ISBA has issued a new media buying framework agreement which is intended to bring greater transparency for advertisers focussing on 'media neutrality', but also address agencies concerns around the confidentiality of their information. 

Andrew Lowdon, Director of Agency Services at ISBA states "we believe it is more than a new version, it is a seminal change in approach and delivers greatly improved clarity and transparency as well as a more complete understanding of the industry." 

As with previous iterations of the framework agreement for media buying, this has not been drafted in collaboration with the IPA, the professional body for advertising and marketing agencies. However, in creating this new framework agreement, many opinions have been canvassed from advertisers, agencies, auditors and intermediaries.. 

A few of the changes: 

  • More robust clauses on the use of inventory media and provisions on barter have been included. The default is that inventory media is still prohibited unless expressly agreed by the advertiser. Where the advertiser does agree to its use, there are a number of requirements that the agency must adhere to (including making it visible as inventory media).  
  • Further tightening of the restrictions on agency group companies driving non-transparent practices. This includes a template schedule for personal declarations from the CFO/GC and media holding group company on transparency.  
  • Brand safety and viewability standards have been moved to a schedule and rebranded as 'Online Service Standards'. (We're both very pleased about this - we never fully understood why it was included within the main body of the template!). 
  • Agency confidentiality in the context of auditing has been strengthened in favour of the agency. There is now a definition of 'Agency Excluded Confidential Information' which includes agency's P&L information, information naming other clients, payroll information or anything else designated in the agreement as such. There is also an express acknowledgement that agency information must not be used for any other purpose except the proper conduct of the audit. We wait to see whether that may cause issues for auditors (and whether they will feel this prevents them pooling aggregated data to an unreasonably extent).  

Notably what is missing is any clauses on data protection: instead there is a data processing schedule left enticingly blank. We don't blame ISBA given the lack of consensus in this area!  But it will inevitably mean a lot of additional work for both advertisers and agencies to negotiate;  

This is also very much a UK template, so you will not find any local implementation agreements or clauses dealing with how this could work as a global framework with local affiliates and local agreements.

The ISBA media templates have proved very popular with advertisers in the past few years since the first version was adopted. We look forward to seeing how this will be embraced and negotiated.