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14 September 2017

P&G Questions Value of ‘Annoying’ Two-Second Digital Ads

Marc Pritchard of Procter & Gamble, the world’s biggest advertiser, has renewed his calls to clean up the “substantial waste in what has become a murky, non-transparent, even fraudulent digital media supply chain” and to tackle fundamental issues over the value advertisers are getting for their digital advertising spend.

“Perhaps the loudest alarm is that despite spending an astounding $600 billion a year on marketing our collective industries still aren’t growing enough – holding stubbornly to low single-digit market growth. Never have so many done so much for so little,” he told Dmexco yesterday.

P&G’s chief brand officer said “the bloom came off the rose for digital media” in 2017. “We’re relentlessly pursuing media transparency for a clean and productive media supply chain. We’re leaping to the next disruption through mass one-to-one marketing. And we’re stepping up our voice in advertising as a force for good and a force for growth.”

He questioned the value of digital ads which were viewed on average for less than two seconds. “Looking at it through the lens of the consumer, how valuable are these ads? For example, people use social media to share things about their lives with each other. And let’s face it, ads are annoying in that context; it’s no wonder they only get a fleeting glance.” It was time for marketers and tech companies to solve the problem of annoying ads.

On third party verification, Pritchard asked whether advertisers were getting the audience reach and frequency they paid for. “Once digital media partners stopped grading their own homework, we found we had been reaching too few people too many times with too many ads. Excess frequency is one of the main sources of waste in the digital media industry and it really annoys consumers.”

TAG-certification was helping to stamp out bot fraud. “This led us to stop buying media from the long tail of thousands of websites, a massive source of bots. We took the head fake that the endless supply of websites provides cheap media. Indeed it did, and proved the old adage ‘you get what you pay for” – in this case, bot farms.”

The expose [by The Times] over brand safety was an unpleasant wake-up call and P&G “simply will not accept or take the chance that our ads are associated with violence, bigotry or hate”. They cut more than $100 million in wasteful digital spending to avoid their ads appearing next to bad content like a terrorist video and still delivered their sales growth objectives.

P&G was working with YouTube, Facebook and others “to identify their best channels to advertise on that are 100 per cent safe and far more engaging with better content…”

Pritchard outlined five actions they were taking with other companies by the end of the calendar year to raise the bar on transparency:

  • Adopt one viewability standard: so we know whether an ad has the chance to be seen
  • Get third-party, accredited verification: so we know we’re getting the media reach and frequency that we paid for
  • Demand transparent agency contracts: so we know what our agencies are doing with our money
  • Eliminate fraud: so we know humans see our ads, not robots
  • Ensure brand safety: so we know our ads show up in the right environment, not in a terrorist video. "

Progress was encouraging and they were about 60 per cent complete but everyone would need to stay diligent to get it done and keep the standards high going forward. Transparency was only the foundational step. “With objective performance data, the real work begins to assess the true value of our media investments.”

Advertising Age: Two Seconds Is Not Enough for P&G: Pritchard Calls for 'Next Generation of Digital Ads': 

Martin Sorrell Issues Warning to Facebook and Google: