After reports surfaced that the Department of Justice would investigate advertising agencies regarding their production practices, particularly the transparency—or lack thereof—in the bidding process, The Association of National Advertisers released its “Production Transparency in the U.S. Advertising Industry” report last week. The 30-page paper involved twelve subject-matter experts, eleven of which agree transparency concerns exist between clients and their creative agency partners. One of the challenges is the gray area permitted by 50+ years of highly subjectable and non-standardized production practices. A critical issue is the lack of standardization that provides full visibility into the production process and fosters a sense of trust and partnership between brands and agencies.
At Fault, An Antiquated Process
Advertising and marketing agencies generally conceive of the idea, including creative, visuals, copy, etc. A production company is then hired to film, direct, and produce the commercial, before the video is then sent to post-production, perhaps with an entirely different firm.
In an attempt to meet the growing and diversifying needs of clients, ad agencies and their holding companies have spun up their own production houses. This allows them to find new efficiencies, better control their own creations and capture additional revenue streams. And they have every right to do it.
However, when these new “in-house entities” bid on the client-approved projects they do so through a bidding process that is run essentially... by themselves. This dynamic coupled with such an opaque, antiquated process presents obvious conflicts, and this is why the DOJ and the ANA are investigating. Regardless of whether you believe there is systemic and widespread malfeasance across the industry, most would agree that you shouldn’t bid in a bidding process that you are conducting.
Technology Driving Transparency
The advertising industry has adopted technology at a blistering pace, but not at all in the production process itself. Let’s be honest: The ability to see each phase of the production process, including the bids and the firms placing them, is something every agency and brand wants. The ability to track production from beginning to end, including the bidding process, could result in big changes for everyone, from the biggest brands on down to the creatives working on telling those brands’ stories. That transparency also brings with it protection. Full visibility removes all doubts.
Fortunately, we’re way ahead of the curve. StudioNow was providing transparency to marketers before the demand for transparency escalated.
Our software platform makes it possible for brands and agencies to source, evaluate, and compare thousands of different vendors, from production and special effects to postproduction and editing. Independent houses have the ability to connect with brands in ways they’ve never before experienced, all while providing an open, transparent, and fair service.
StudioNow CEO, David Mason, says, "There is a massive opportunity to improve the entire production ecosystem by implementing technology that manages the entire production process. Over the last fifteen years, the advertising industry has adopted incredible new marketing technologies, but the production process has not kept pace. This analog approach to production leads to the problems and challenges we now see with scaling, cost pressure, and most of all transparency. It's time for marketers, agencies and production companies to embrace technology to help solve this problem."
Will this transparency that’s made possible with The StudioNow Platform answer the problem? We think so. Some of the world’s largest brands, agencies and top creative shops are working with StudioNow to implement our production management technology to solve this significant problem. If you’d like to learn more about how we’re improving the production process for the entire market, give us a call.