If you look at any poll over the last ten years, the Communications and Marketing industry has consistently considered transparency one of the most important factors in how they operate, with many stressing the need for complete transparency.
But despite this, the trait continues to be perceived as ‘poor’ by both clients and agencies, and there has been a decline in mutual trust as a result.
According to the ID Comms 2021 Global Media Transparency Report, 76% of the respondents to the survey were neither confident nor satisfied by levels of transparency in the digital supply chain. In fact, not one single respondent said they were confident.
This reflects a combination of issues within the digital ecosystem, including inaccurate data, hidden fees and undisclosed trading deals – all of which are inevitably reducing the effectiveness and efficiency of money spent on digital campaigns.
Concerns about trustworthiness in the digital supply chain have in fact moved so far up the agenda for clients that they’ve now usurped concerns around integrity in more traditional areas like media trading/buying.
Meanwhile, somewhat unsurprisingly, the strong desire for trustworthiness between brands and agencies continues to increase.
So how do we fix this mismatch in saying it but not doing it?
By increasing levels of trust in the industry, there is an opportunity to help both sides operate more purposefully. When levels of trust are mutual, it is possible to hit the sweet spot in a business relationship. Trust is the social glue that holds the two parties together.
From the client side, transparency is a way to identify partners who are willing to share and build a balanced relationship. For agencies, it provides a way to stand out amongst competitors, and ultimately to grow the top-line. The challenge is to understand exactly what the other wants and needs, and not let miscommunication create problems.
It is often noted that the gradual deterioration in trust and transparency between clients and agencies has created a shift in preference towards smaller agencies. For some clients, when they are faced with a problem, their solution is to throw money at it. Some agencies may choose to take advantage of this, adding larger, unnecessary price tags to projects, which creates a challenge for the rest of us who don’t.
Clients looking for transparency from their agency may notice this kind of pattern, which in turn may lead them to seek out agencies who have a clear value proposition and appear to have less of a ‘rabbit-warren’ like structure.
On the flip side, when agencies openly share information about their business, growth, environment, employees and social issues affecting the business, it yields a greater value in both the short- and long-term. It increases credibility, trust and ultimately business growth.
So what is blindingly clear from the polls, is that improving transparency in the industry is essential and that pretty much everybody wants it.
Those agencies and brands which – whether large or small in scale – take responsibility towards their actions and are consistent in communicating it in the public domain will, over time, be the ones to rise up as the go-to companies to work with.