P&G issues call to arms to ad industry over ‘antiquated’ media buying

P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard has called for the industry to join the company’s efforts to “clean up the media supply chain” and improve areas such as viewability, ad fraud and measurement.

P&G

Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) chief brand officer Marc Pritchard has called for the industry to increase transparency around media buying and viewability after criticising the “murky” supply chain.

Speaking at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting last night (29 January), Pritchard labelled the current system “antiquated” and unable to cope with the shift to digital. And he said the increasing trend for ad blocking among consumers is due to “crappy advertising”.

“Craft or crap? Technology enables both and all too often, the outcome has been more crappy advertising accompanied by even crappier viewing experiences,” he said, according to a transcript of his speech seen by Marketing Week.

“We have an antiquated media buying and selling system that was clearly not built for this technology revolution. We serve ads to consumers through a non-transparent media supply chain with spotty compliance to common standards unreliable measurement hidden rebates and new inventions like bot and methbot fraud.”

This in turn is leading to a “pretty anemic” growth rate among advertisers, despite spending $200bn on advertising in the US alone. As a result, Pritchard called on the industry to produce better advertising to drive growth, enabled by media transparency to drive a “clean and productive” media chain.

He explains: “Better advertising and media transparency are closely related. Why? Because better advertising requires time and money, yet we’re all wasting way too much time and money on a media supply chain with poor standards adoption, too many players grading their own homework, too many hidden touches, and too many holes to allow criminals to rip us off.

“We have a media supply chain that is murky at best and fraudulent at worst. We need to clean it up, and invest the time and money we save into better advertising to drive growth.”

P&G believed the myth that we could be a ‘first mover’ on all of the latest shiny objects, despite the lack of standards and measurements and verification.

Marc Pritchard, P&G

He believes advertisers have not taken enough action on the big issues partly because this is “not a sexy topic”. However, he also admits that P&G is at fault because it was distracted by the “latest shiny objects”.

“I confess that P&G believed the myth that we could be a ‘first mover’ on all of the latest shiny objects, despite the lack of standards and measurements and verification. We accepted multiple viewability metrics, publisher self-reporting with no verification, outdated agency contracts, and fraud threats – with the somewhat delusional thought that digital is different and that we were getting ahead of the digital curve,” he explains.

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P&G says it has now “come to its senses”, by realising there is no sustainable advantage in a “complicated, non-transparent, inefficient and fraudulent media supply chain”.

“Getting to a clean, productive media supply chain is the level playing field we all want and need. The basis for competitive advantage is our brands, our advertising craft, and the quality of our product and package experiences for consumers. It’s not rocket science, it’s really just common sense,” he added.

In order to clean up the supply chain, P&G will be taking the following steps:

  • Adopting one viewability standard – P&G will be accepting the Media Ratings Council (MRC)-validated viewability standard, and expect all its agencies, media suppliers and suppliers to do the same.
  • Implementing accredited third-party measurement verification – P&G will be adopting MRC-accredited third-party verification during 2017, and expects every media supplier including publishers and measurement vendors to the same.
  • Getting transparent agency contracts – This will include terms requiring funds to be used for media payment only, all rebates to be disclosed and returned, and all transactions subject to audit.
  • Preventing ad fraud – P&G is collaborating with the Trustworthy Accountability Group, a self-regulatory body aimed at eliminating ad fraud.

P&G has given its agencies and media suppliers a year’s notice, and made the consequences of not complying with its new strategy “crystal clear” – by taking its business elsewhere.

As Pritchard concluded: “P&G is taking action because it’s good for consumers, good for our business, and responsible for the industry. Don’t be fooled by the myths. Don’t accept the excuses. Don’t wait for someone else to move. Don’t be daunted by the task. Take one step at a time. There is tremendous power in the collective force of our industry.”

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