Last week, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, gave a speech at the IAB’s annual leadership event in Florida.
While there has been an enormous amount of discussion concerning media transparency recently, there has been very little meaningful action. However, this all changed in a 25 minute speech where Marc Pritchard openly & clearly explained what P&G is going to do in 2017 to change this, and in doing so, potentially altered the direction of media forever.
He delivered four simple but extremely powerful key points.
Firstly, he talked to inconsistent digital viewability standards. He compared the current situation to a football game in which each team sets their own definitions of a goal, essentially levelling his guns at the disparate viewability approaches of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Pandora, YouTube and others. He announced that P&G would combat this inconsistency by adopting the Media Ratings Council (MRC) standard, and would expect all its agencies and media suppliers to follow suit before the end of the year. While this is still quite a low bar, it does set a new standard for vendors like Facebook who choose to define an impression as “more than zero” seconds watched.
Secondly, and in what could be considered the most radical part of the speech, he decried the closed measurement systems of Google and Facebook. Pritchard suggested that this is equivalent to having the “fox in the henhouse”, and that P&G will no longer accept publisher self-reporting without some form of external verification. He asserted that by the end of the year, P&G will expect all its partners to adopt third-party, MRC accredited verification of audience numbers.
Thirdly, he addressed ad fraud in the world of programmatic, and specifically the long list of vendors who each “punch their ticket” and take a significant share of the client’s media investment long before it ever reaches a publisher or platform. Of this, Pritchard said, “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.” His solution is that P&G will adopt the guidelines of the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), which includes the ANA, IAB and the 4A’s.
Finally, Pritchard talked about media agency transparency and the fallout from the 2016 ANA report on media agency contracts and remuneration which detailed the so-called ‘sur-commissions’ that sees agencies retain income in a non transparent manner, including rebates & pricing mark-ups. Pritchard outlined how P&G will carefully scrutinise all media contracts globally to ensure full transparency is part of the contractual compliance. He also stated that this involved clients taking responsibility for paying agencies fairly for their efforts.
So overall, a massive hats off to Marc Pritchard for taking on this fight so directly. P&G’s annual ad spend of $7bn is dwarfed by a digital ecosystem that is owned and run by two global behemoths in Google and Facebook, companies that are, respectively, two-and-a-half and one-and-a-half times bigger than P&G; so this is one hell of a fight to pick.
We at DAC could not be more supportive. In reality, the only viable solution is for the whole industry to get behind these initiatives on a global level.
Looks like 2017 is going to be quite the ride…
Watch the video below:
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