Media and Advertising Assurance

Assurance in media and advertising

Challenges of media buying in a digital world

It’s no surprise growing numbers of advertising brands are using digital transformation and innovation to better connect with their global audiences. The advantages of doing so are great, but this activity brings new challenges to media buying. Challenges include everything from changes in advertising agency contracts, to contract compliance, difficulty tracking spend, and further blurring when it comes to measuring return on investments across the various media channels.

At the same time though, the burgeoning number of media platforms means transparency in media buying and client-agency relationships is becoming increasingly more important – whether it’s through sponsored posts on social media channels or pre-roll video ads on websites.

In this increasingly complex market, advertisers may also have concerns about the arrangements they make for advertising and the impact it has. With many intermediaries operating in the industry, any weaknesses in contract terms may result in unexpected payments.

There is also a lack of consistent standards for measuring advertising performance, especially digitally. Reliable measurements are made difficult by ‘bot-fraud’ – the over-estimating of the numbers who see ads, and the frequent use of ad-blockers. Some advertisers have also suffered reputation damage from inappropriate ad placement in social media.

Where we can assist:

  • Financial: ‘Am I getting the deal that I signed?’ Contractual terms between parties in the advertising sector are failing to keep pace with the evolution of the industry. Our experienced assurance professionals can examine contracts between parties, and appraise rebate and revenue-share agreements to determine undisclosed rebates, unauthorised mark-ups and un-billed media. We can also help determine whether contractual obligations have been met and whether the level of services paid for have been provided, for example the number of staff working on a campaign.
  • Viewability: ‘Did consumers see my ad?’ According to a 2014 Google report1, 56% of display ads are not actually seen. Publishers should be held accountable and advertisers should not have to pay for what they don’t get. Advertising effectiveness is reduced further by the frequent use of ad-blockers. We can independently verify delivery of placed media and can confirm that ad placements are running in the right places at the right time within TV and digital media.
  • Ad fraud: ‘Did my ad reach a human or a bot?’ With an estimated US$6.5 billion having been lost to ad fraud in 2017,2 Forrester estimates that this number will grow to US$10.9 billion by 2021 if steps are not taken to address this problem.3 We can help mitigate the risk of unreliable third-party campaign performance assessments by independently analysing and tracking invalid digital traffic.
  • Brand risk: ‘Is my ad shown with safe content?’ and ‘Is my ad’s messaging compliant with my brand?’ Advertisers want to avoid their ads being placed on undesirable sites and in inappropriate places. They also want to protect their brand image by monitoring and controlling messaging online. We work with brand teams to proactively manage and monitor the risks presented by third-party relationships. Our goal is to advance transparency and relevance while protecting brand value in the digital media environment.


1 Google – “The importance of Being Seen: Viewability Insights for Digital Marketers and Publishers”
2 The Bot Baseline: Fraud in Digital Advertising 2017 Report
3 Forrester - Media Center

Key contacts

Ian Jackson

Ian Jackson


Ian is a qualified accountant, Fellow of Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (FACCA) and member of the Association of Accounting Technicians (MAAT). Ian joined Deloitte as a Partner within ... More

Christopher Aylott

Christopher Aylott


Christopher Aylott is a Partner in our Audit & Assurance based out of Cambridge. He was based in Shanghai, China from 2007 to 2018 overseeing our service delivery to UK multinational audit clients wit... More