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Marketing Procter & Gamble (P&G) Personalisation

P&G’s media chief doubles down on bid to better balance targeted ads with mass-reach strategies amid $2bn marketing cuts


By Seb Joseph | News editor

May 10, 2017 | 5 min read

Procter & Gamble (P&G) is working to get the right blend of precision with mass-reach in its marketing after previously admitting that it had targeted excessively online.

P&G brands

P&G’s media chief doubles down on bid to better balance targeted ads with mass-reach strategies amid $2bn marketing cuts

It doesn’t have to be an “either or” debate, opined Gerry D’Angelo, the global media director for the world’s largest advertiser at the Festival of Media in Rome this week (9 May).

“The approach I’m trying to instill here is to make sure we’re using all the technology to drive scale and reach and then once that’s in place we can use that muscle memory to build personalisation," he said.

D'Angleo's talking about building a better use of data and technology at the business, where its marketers have a more robust idea on how to get the most reach but also the right precision. Rather than pull swathes of media money from online platforms, the noises coming from P&G suggest its revamped approach will revolve around how to better buy reach. Part of this thinking would have likely guided P&G’s decision to redistribute its programmatic data duties earlier this month when it cut ties with AudienceScience.

“It’s not that personalisation is a bad thing,” assured D’Angelo as if to ward off concerns that he and his peers will start pulling reams of budget from the likes of Facebook and Google.

“We just need to make sure we don’t follow it out the window and end up talking to a fraction of our category buyers. As long as you can accommodate both of those concepts [personalisation and mass reach] simultaneously, which I think you can, then I think its absolutely acceptable to be able to talk o people and also talk to them in a highly targeted way.”

It’s a change in tack from P&G, which was one of a throng of advertisers to pump money into targeted ads that consequently sacrificed reach. The company’s top marketer Marc Pritchard admitted as much last year when he said “we targeted too much and went too narrow” on Facebook. Four years ago, the business was adamant, as many of its peers were, that this was the way to go. In 2013, it moved a third of its advertising budget online and then a year later slashed its spending by 14% and refocused on what it said at the time was an “optimised media mix” with more digital, mobile, search and social investments.

But businesses like P&G own brands built on mass media, with the type of recognition that has always chaffed against the hyper-targeted sensibilities of environments like Facebook. And with tougher cost pressures on the company’s marketers as seen by its plan to cut a whopping $2bn in marketing costs over the next five years, it may have to go back to the marketing sensibilities that defined the industry in order to continue to grow.

Nowhere is this need clearer than in P&G’s four-point plan to overhaul its investments around viewability, third party measurement, agency relationships and online ad fraud.

If Pritchard is going to lead by example on his view about the death of craft in advertising currently then he needs to disentangle the media supply chain and consequently tackle mass personalisation.

“There is a reality that personalisation can go too far,” said Matthew Heath, chairman and chief strategy officer at Lida. “Firstly you need brand salience and attraction – you can be as personal as you like but I still need to trust you and be interested in you in the first place. Secondly brands often need a dimension of discovery and serendipity, that disappears in the overly personalised world.”

Marketing Procter & Gamble (P&G) Personalisation

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