P&G to review all agency contracts in 2017 in four-step plan to bring transparency to media supply chain

P&G's Marc Pritchard lays down the gauntlet

Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) top marketer Marc Pritchard has revealed that it will review all of its agency contracts in 2017 in a bid to bring transparency to the “murky at best, fraudulent at worst” media supply chain.

It forms part of a four-point plan the business has put in place to exert greater control over the quality of its media strategy and ultimately create better advertising to drive growth.

“P&G believed the myth that we could be the latest mover on all the new shiny objects despite the lack of standards in measurement and verification,” said chief brand officer Pritchard at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Florida yesterday (29 January).

“We accepted multiple viewability metrics, publishers reporting with no verification, outdated agency contracts and fraud threats with the somewhat delusional thought that digital is different and that we were getting ahead of the digital curve. We’ve come to our senses and realised there is no sustainable advantage in a complicated, non-transparent, inefficient and fraudulent media supply chain.”

This isn't the first time the marketer for brands including Ariel, Pampers and Always has been vocal on the reputation the industry has garnered for bad advertising and has previously evaluated how it spends with Facebook because it was getting "too targeted".

He joins a growing number of clients now looking to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to challenging agencies and media owners on issues such as viewability and fraud, following in the footsteps of brands such as McDonald's, Royal Bank of Scotland and L'Oreal.

In fact, according to the Wold Federation of Advertisers, some 90% of marketers are looking to review agency contracts in the hope it will deliver greater transparency.

Pritchard has put in place an action plan that it believes will bring clarity to its media buying. The first stage has been to adopt one viewability standard (the Media Rating Council's-validated viewability standard of an ad being at least 50% in view for at least one second and two for video).

Rival Unilever has already set much stricter guidelines, saying it wants 100% of an ad to be in view in a browser, though it doesn't specify a length of time.

The second step in the four-stage plan is to be no longer reliant on media owners to measure their own inventory, with the FMCG business expecting every media supplier - including publishers and measurement vendors - to adopt MRC-accredited third party verification during 2017.

The third point will be a review of all of the FMCG-giant's agency contracts in the coming year in the quest for greater transparency.

And finally, action four is to prevent ad fraud, which will see P&G insist that any entity touching digital media must become TAG-certified during 2017 to help ensure that it is free from fraud.

While he admitted that it’s “not a sexy topic”, Pritchard said it is top of his priorities as a marketer this year and therefore should be a priority for any supplier it works with - namely Omnicom which landed the bulk of its $2bn North America media account in December 2015.

“We need better advertising to drive growth, enabled by media transparency to drive a clean and productive media supply chain,” Pritchard said.

“Better advertising and media transparency are very closely related. Why? Because better advertising requires time and money yet we’re wasting too much of it on a media supply chain with poor standardisation, too many players grading their own homework, too many hidden touches and too many holes to allow criminals to rip us off."

He implored all facets of the industry, from publishers to ad tech vendors to “come together, put down finger pointers, and solve these problems.”

“This is a matter of collective will. If we can find a way to drive cars autonomously, we can find a way to track media,” he concluded.

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Jennifer Faull

Jen Faull is deputy news editor at The Drum with a remit to cover the latest developments in the retail and FMCG sectors. Based in London, she has interviewed major business figures including top marketers from Mondelez, Unilever, Tesco, and Lidl.

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