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The Big Story: Agencies And The Supply Side

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It’s a challenging time for agencies, so it’s not surprising that the 4A’s Decisions conference in Washington, DC, this week served as an industrywide pep talk.

But in many ways the messages about being strategic partners, transparency and incentivizing collaboration have been playing on repeat over the past two years.

This week on “The Big Story,” Alison Weissbrot took a roundtrip ride to DC to hear what the agencies are saying and, more importantly, what they aren’t. Agencies seem fixated on problems like brand safety and viewability, but they haven’t really addressed some of the bigger challenges, such as dealing with the outsized impact of Facebook and Google, whose whims can transform, at a moment’s notice, how media is bought and sold, and how people get paid.

But it’s easier to have an impact when confronting smaller and more immediately solvable problems. Hence, the agencies are scrutinizing their business dealings with supply-side tech. As Alison reported Tuesday, Havas Media, IPG Mediabrands, Essence and Hearts & Science are shedding light on nontransparent processes happening in exchanges.

As a result, they’re whittling down the supply partners they work with. Havas Media reduced its exchange partners from 40 to eight. And while the supply side, at least publicly, seems happy to cooperate, they really have very little leverage.

Could this be yet another existential threat to the world of exchanges? Tune in this week to “The Big Story” and find out.

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