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Ad scandal puts Dentsu’s credibility on the line

2020-9-29 17:08| 发布者: 悠儿| 查看: 197| 评论: 0

摘要: When Toyota launched a quirky Twitter campaign depicting the car parts of its new Prius hybrid using anime girls earlier this year, the digital advertising impact was instant. The oddity and boldness ...
Ad scandal puts Dentsu’s credibility on the line
When Toyota launched a quirky Twitter campaign depicting the car parts of its new Prius hybrid using anime girls earlier this year, the digital advertising impact was instant. The oddity and boldness attracted young Japanese users of social media that had not been effectively targeted by Toyota’s traditional, celebrity-heavy TV commercials. As with almost all of Toyota’s ads, the campaign’s creator was Dentsu.

The Prius tweets were not part of the overcharging scandal that shook Japan’s most powerful advertising agency last week. But it was not coincidental that Toyota was the company that discovered the irregularities.

The revelation followed a meticulous analysis of digital ad impact by a company grappling to connect with a home market that has shown declining interest in owning cars. The analysis was disappointing, prompting the automaker to question if whether Dentsu was placing the digital ads properly.

Since that first complaint from Toyota in July, Dentsu has identified 633 suspected cases of overcharging, amounting to at least $2.3m and affecting 111 clients. Among them were 14 incidents where ads were not placed at all and other cases of incorrect placement periods and falsified reporting of ad performance.

The scandal involves performance-based ads — a popular tool that allows advertisers to target specific types of consumers and pay fees depending on how much business was generated. These ads were supposed to offer advertisers greater transparency and make it easier to measure effectiveness. In practice, companies have struggled to judge whether these ads on websites and mobile devices have the desired impact.

The story is not uniquely Japanese. The Dentsu discovery came days after Facebook admitted a mistake in measuring the time users spent viewing video ads on its social network.

The US ad industry is addressing concerns that ad agencies had been accepting cash rebates from media companies without informing their clients. There are also cases of online advertising slots that are never seen by consumers due to fraud.

But in Japan, concerns about opaqueness are heightened by the close ties among ad agencies, TV broadcasters and other media companies, which makes price negotiations less transparent.

Dentsu controls one-quarter of Japan’s annual $61bn advertising market, and its domination of lucrative sponsorship slots such as the Olympics has made it difficult for dissatisfied clients to publicly voice their concerns.

That puts the onus on companies to toughen their scrutiny of agency management of digital ads, says Yumi Tanaka, JPMorgan analyst. Dentsu has promised that a more independent division inside the company will monitor the performance data of digital ads in question. But that still lacks third-party verification, which may prompt clients to pressure Dentsu to disclose more real-time data rather than a summary version.

It remains unclear whether the discrepancies in online ads were restricted to Dentsu or whether they plague the broader Japanese market. Shinsuke Iwasa, Mizuho analyst, warns that rivals should not treat it as a “Dentsu only” problem, citing the complexity of the performance-based ads. Dentsu has blamed lack of personnel and pressure to meet client demand for this new online advertising. Performance ads posted 22 per cent year-on-year growth in 2015 versus a 0.3 increase for Japan’s total ad spending.

For now, the amount of overcharging is unlikely to have any significant impact on Dentsu’s earnings. Its chief financial officer has stressed that none of its clients have cut ties with the company, saying such outright rejections “don’t normally happen in Japan”.

Regardless of financial fallout, analysts and companies hope that Dentsu will pursue international standards of transparency with the rigour it has shown in its ambitions to expand globally. In addition to the £3.2bn acquisition of the UK’s Aegis in 2013, the agency has bought six companies in US, France, India, Australia and Brazil for undisclosed prices in September alone.

The reputational damage from the revelations should not be underestimated. As a Dentsu client said: “It’s not the sums involved, but a question of credibility.”










摩根大通(JPMorgan)的分析师田中由美(Yumi Tanaka)称,该问题促使企业加强审查代理商对数字广告的管理。电通承诺,公司内部一个比较独立的部门将监测受到质疑的数字广告的效果数据。但这仍然缺乏第三方核实,可能会促使客户施压电通公开更多实时数据而不是简单的总结性数据。

尚不清楚在线广告的问题仅限于电通还是影响了整个日本市场。瑞穗(Mizuho)分析师岩佐新助(Shinsuke Iwasa)警告称,竞争对手不应该把它当做“唯独电通”存在的问题,并指出了效果广告的复杂性。电通将问题归咎于缺乏人力,同时受到满足客户对这种新型在线广告需求的压力。2015年,效果广告支出同比增长了22%,而日本整体广告支出仅增长了0.3%。









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