Advertising can seem complicated to the untrained marketer. Certainly, many advertising tasks take years of learning and practice to master. But that does not mean you can’t understand the business, how it functions and become an effective advertiser. A key to becoming successful in the field is transparency in advertising.

Even if you know little about advertising ask questions and continue to probe. As Steve Jobs said “Stay hungry. Stay foolish. Never let go of your appetite to go after new ideas, new experiences, and new adventures.”  Approach your advertising education in a similar manner. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how unimportant they may seem.

Agency Responsibilities

If you hire an advertising agency, and for many businesses that is the best choice, establish clear lines of communication. There should be a person at the agency, usually the account rep, with whom the day to day operations are discussed. When you hire the agency establish their responsibilities. Clearly define the scope of work for each project. Understand all of the details of the agreement, including costs for things like change orders.

Client Responsibilities

Advertising does not happen in a vacuum, client participation is necessary. Know what the agency expects of you. There should be a point person on the company side as well. Once you clarify each party’s responsibilities establish timelines so that the work moves forward in an orderly manner.

If you are dealing directly with media companies more time, effort and expertise will be required. Understand the services they will provide and when they will be provided. Learn why the media company makes the recommendations that they do. Perhaps they have made assumptions about your business that are incorrect. The more you know the better your advertising.

Advertising Fees

The need for clarity and transparency is probably most important when it comes to fees. Make sure all fees are clearly explained. With creative this can be challenging, but most agencies will provide you with a cost structure for their work. Understand what the commission structure is with media. This should be straightforward. Ask to see copies of all invoices. This is advertising bought on your behalf, so you are entitled to see the bills.

In digital media do not accept bills generated by the media company’s dashboard. You have no idea of the true results or the markup. If the media company is running advertising through a third party, ask to see the third party’s dashboard. As an example, if the media company is running a Google search campaign ask for access to the Google dashboard. A media company dashboard can mask actual costs.

Some advertising agencies will allow their clients to pay the media directly, so there is complete transparency. The agency fee is established at the beginning of the relationship, the client pays the media company and then pays the agency their fee. That way there are no surprises and you know exactly what you are paying for.

Transparency In Advertising

A completely transparent advertising experience will not only provide you with greater comfort but will prove to be the most effective. You will have a clear understanding of the services and media being provided. Everyone involved will have a clear role. You will have more insight to make better decisions. Hence, transparency in advertising is extremely important.