UK-based media agency, the7stars, recently announced it would adopt the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers’ (ISBA) template agency agreement—an arrangement designed to foster a transparent relationship between advertisers and media buying agencies.

Since K2 Intelligence released its report on the U.S. media buying industry in June—a report which detailed non-transparent business practices employed by media buying agencies to obtain and retain rebates and incentives—transparency has become the advertising industry’s buzzword.  What followed were revelations about media buying agencies that suggest transparency must become something more than a buzz word:  substantial overcharging for advertising inventory, secret settlements to avoid disclosure, and online ads placed with extremist propaganda videos.  the7stars commitment to transparency comes at a time when agencies in this industry desperately need to win back their clients’ trust and confidence.

ISBA, the UK trade association representing 450 UK advertisers, welcomed the move by the7stars to adopt its industry standard template, noting that such a move is vital for mending increasingly frosty  advertiser-agency relations, and serves as “a hugely important first step in providing UK advertisers with the tools to enable the clean and transparent media supply chain.”

Going forward, the question is whether other UK (and US) agencies will follow suit. Some of them will, quite understandably, resist change, but increasing pressure to focus on practices, procedures and tools to detect and eradicate advertising fraud may push all stakeholders to ISBA’s middle-ground agreement.  Change is in the air and we would expect more and more agencies to become receptive to the idea of adopting the ISBA standard or a variation thereof. Those who lead the way will undoubtedly be looked upon favorably by advertisers nervous about the current regime.