WPP boss says Facebook measurement concerns are not affecting brand spending

Sir Martin Sorrell says the industry should “watch what CMOs do not what they say” after finding very little evidence of any change in spend on digital.

Although CMOs have said they are concerned about Facebook measurement after the social network admitted to errors and have implied they want to change spending patterns, this is not what is actually happening, according to WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell.

Speaking this morning (3 March) at an investor event following WPP’s full-year results, Sorrell said that while brands are worried about fakes news, brand safety and measurement, they are not showing any signs of shifting budgets.

“I hear CMOs say they are very concerned about measurement and imply they are going to change their spending patterns. But to be frank we have not seen that. We are surprised at what has been said. But you should watch what [CMOs] do rather than what they say,” he said.

Sorrell’s comments are in line with the CMOs Marketing Week has spoken to over the past few weeks. While many have raised concerns about digital media and said they are bringing up the issues internally and with their agencies, none have said they are moving money elsewhere.

Those concerns have increased since Facebook’s metrics errors last year and were brought into sharp relief after a speech by Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard last month. Yesterday (2 March), he reiterated his calls to clean up digital media and slammed those objecting to his demands.

In particular he called out Facebook and Google, saying that while they are taking steps to improve validation these are not yet sufficient enough.

Sorrell agrees: “Both Pritchard and [Unilever marketing boss Keith] Weed have highlighted concerns about fraud, fake news, viewability and measurability. Pritchard reiterated yesterday that measures taken by Facebook in particular and Google also in terms of validation are not sufficient. And I would concur with that. I am in violent agreement with Pritchard’s views and the need to improve measurability.”

READ MORE: Keith Weed – We need comparable metrics in a digital world

However, he said this issue is not what keeps him up at night. That, he explained, is Amazon. While it has a nascent ad business, Sorrell predicts that, given Amazon’s data and what it knows about people’s shopping habits, it could soon be a major threat to Google.

With that in mind, WPP has set up an agency in Seattle “specifically to deal with Amazon and cater to Amazon”.

He added: “There is a developing battle between Amazon and Google and G on search. It will be Facebook versus Snapchat and Google versus Amazon, one in social and one in search.”

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