Was great to read in The Australian today that Maxus CEO David Gaines has made a company wide directive that no Maxus buyers are to buy from publishers who practice auto-refresh.
Given up until 6 months ago I was working with Dave at Maxus I wasn’t that surprised by the move. Dave has been frustrated about the practice since joining the ABAs Web Audit committee over a year ago and it’s an issue he’s never been comfortable with.
As a past Maxus employee and as someone who is passionate about real audited numbers, I couldn’t be happier.
Also, from someone who has sat agency side, the way to get suppliers to move is to threaten to pull their revenue away from them. At Maxus last year I initiated a series o Service Level Agreements with key publishers that set on paper a series of guidelines I expected them to adhere to on behalf of my clients.
Pushing the issue was difficult until they were given a clear option – co-operate or else the bookings stop.
What Gaines is doing is stepping it up a notch – challenging the industry in many ways. Challenging other agencies to show the same bravery. Challenging suppliers to stop this ridiculous practice. Challenging his own staff to be more diligent. Challenging his clients to become more aware and mindful of the practice and what it means.
18 months ago there weren’t many people talking about Auto Refresh. Even 12 months ago it was a pretty quiet topic. This year the issue is now unavoidable – primarily thanks to Tim Burrowes who has pushed his competitors around their non-audited status (indirectly raising significant awareness industry wide), Lara Sinclair (who has covered it through The Australian – a bold move considering The Australian’s publishing cousin, News Digital Media, practices auto-refresh) and now David Gaines and the wider MFA who have placed the issue right at the front of peoples minds.
Problem is – the majority of the publisher side continue to do nothing except spend time and resource trying to justify the practice to an audience who are strongly indicating they are tiring of the excuses.
You can’t look to the media for leadership on this – it has to come from agencies and advertisers.
With Maxus’s actions today we’re closer than we have been before. All we need now is a big advertiser – a Telstra, Ford, Toyota, CommBank – to put their foot down with equal grunt.