P&G’s Marc Pritchard: We are 50% of the way to cleaning up digital

Pritchard believes the work will be complete by the end of the year after the digital ad industry “stepped up”, but he warns that “then the hard part starts”.

Marc Pritchard, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer, has urged marketers to elevate craft in advertising, as well as media content, and improve transparency to eliminate waste. By doing so he said it will free up cash and enable marketers to invest in growth, as he believes the industry has an important role to play in growing companies and the economy.

Speaking this morning (20 June) at the Wake up with The Economist event, held as part of the Cannes Lions Festival, he said: “The industry is spending roughly $600bn a year on advertising and marketing and squeaking out a pretty anaemic growth rate.

“What we need is better craft in both advertising and media content in order to be able to drive growth, and we need a transparent media supply chain that allows us to eliminate all of the waste that is out there to allow us to invest in that growth.”

The road to transparency

Pritchard has been very vocal about the need for improvements to the digital supply chain. He wants common standards introduced, as well as third-party measurement that is accredited in the same way as TV and ensuring any media buy is fraud-free and safety measures are implemented to protect brands appearing against terrorist content.

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He said the industry is about 40-50% there when it comes to cleaning up the digital supply chain but he is hopeful that by the end of the year it will have completed its mission.

“We have gone out and insisted upon these standards because when you have transparency you can make choices on the basis of the quality of the media,” he said.

When you have transparency across all platforms you can evaluate more clearly how this medium in digital compares to this medium in other places in a much more transparent way.

Marc Pritchard, P&G

The fact the players in the digital industry have “stepped up”, understand the issue and are making progress is “encouraging”, he said, but he added that it’s long overdue and the industry must keep moving forward.

“Hopefully by the end of this calendar year we’ll be in that place. But then the hard part starts. Because when you have transparency across all platforms you can evaluate more clearly how this medium in digital compares to this medium in other places in a much more transparent way.”

Pritchard has been vocal previously amount the level of “crappy advertising” damaging the industry as a whole, which he believes still hasn’t been addressed.

But he said the industry now needs to turn its attention to the content around which brands advertise. He believes it is publishers’ responsibility to bring a “quality and craft approach” to the content and advertising space.

“There’s a lot of crap there and we need to eliminate that so we can get better content to advertise on. If we do that, higher quality is going to drive growth,” he said.

“The media supply chain is so murky and non-transparent, and so wasteful and even fraudulent – we’re wasting huge amounts of money.”


Pritchard referenced a WFA report that suggests just 40% of marketers’ spend actually makes it in front of consumers because of “all of the stop-offs in the middle and fraud”. That, coupled with the viewability problem, means only 25% gets to the consumer, he claimed.

“Imagine if we were able to take 20-30% of that money and invest it back into better advertising and content – we would grow a lot more.”

Focus on market growth

While some marketers may be hesitant to switch focus to growing the market they operate in rather than taking share of the existing market from competitors, Pritchard said they’d be foolish not to look at the bigger picture.

“We all grew up with the mindset of killing each other and trying to steal share. The problem with stealing share is that you then get attacked, because nobody wants to lose market share. So a better way to grow is by getting the market to grow.”

He said the brand of course wants to increase its share a little at the same time but that the focus should be on getting more users in to the market, getting people to buy more items, and to pay a slightly higher price for a more premium quality product.