It's time for radical transparency in media - Sonder
Radical transparency requires radical courage from the media industry. But it only takes one to lead the way... who will it be?
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It’s time for radical transparency in media

It’s time for radical transparency in media

Every week, it seems there’s someone jumping up and down about agency transparency. The gist of these articles/posts/reports is that agencies should be more transparent. Of course they should, but then the industry has been saying that for years. What’s changed? Not much, if anything.

Transparency is not just a media industry issue – finance, food, retail, tech… almost every industry will face disruption from the need for greater transparency. But, let’s focus on media, given it’s so topical right now.

To genuinely address the issue of transparency (which is a trust issue), leaders need to adopt radical transparency. The issue with transparency is so pervasive now that agency businesses must overcommit to it in order to reverse the lack of trust. Radical transparency is used in some circles of government, technology and investment to reference an extreme openness in regard to business practice and finances.

A great example of radical transparency in action is a clothing company called Everlane. The clothing industry has long been accused of unethical behaviour in relation to pricing and the abuse of certain manufacturing practices. On their website, Everlane break down the true cost of their clothing items so that you can see exactly where your money is going. Here’s a company willing to air their clean laundry for all to see.

The screenshot below is from their website where you can see the costs laid out for all to see…

Now, imagine an agency doing this… Imagine how quickly the issue of transparency would evaporate if every media investment was accurately accounted for and detailed like this. Imagine if every programmatic buy came with a visual that clearly demonstrated the value chain – clients might restore some faith in their agencies.

Radical transparency is about growth from the inside-out by demonstrating extreme openness, which will lead to trust and therefore growth. How you communicate it will be driven primarily by the media channels you own, as these are the channels you need people to trust you in the most.

It’s not hard to apply radical transparency, but it does require even more radical courage. And of course, it also requires the business to not be conducting questionable practices in the first place.

My guess is, the first agency leader to publicly apply radical transparency will create an immediate and impactful response from both clients and other agencies. Actually, it only takes one to change an industry. So, come on… who will it be?