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More Real-Talk from One of the Ad Industry’s Biggest Spenders

It wasn’t long ago that Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at Procter & Gamble, had stern words for the ad industry, encouraging publishers and agencies to “rise to the challenge” to fix a variety of issues plaguing today’s advertising ecosystem. Pritchard was back in front of his brand and agency peers at the 4A’s Transformation conference in Los Angeles last week. Here are a handful of highlights:

It’s Time for Advertisers to Cut Down on the “Noise”
One of Pritchard’s key points for attendees was that the overwhelming number of ads, and ad formats, is having a negative impact on the ability of brands to reach consumers. “We bombard consumers with thousands of ads a day, subject them to endless ad load times, interrupt their screens with popups and overpopulate their screens and feeds,” said Pritchard. He believes this deluge of ad content is preventing advertisers from breaking through to reach consumers.

The Industry Is Ripe for Consolidation and Simplification
Pritchard said he’s also concerned there are too many agencies that have become too specialized. “We need you to consolidate skills and services,” he said, while simultaneously noting that P&G has historically been part of the problem by hiring too many partners. Pritchard pledged that his company was working to consolidate its agency relationships, increasing the agencies’ compensation in the process. Referencing the existence of Digital Agencies, he asked: “Do we still have print and out-of-home and radio agencies? Of course not, because we expect our agencies to be skilled at all mediums.”

The Industry Needs One Standard of Measurement
Pritchard reiterated the need for ad industry players to focus on transparency in how they display and measure ad campaigns. He emphasized that it was time for industry-wide third-party verification to be put in place, and that too many agencies and publishers still rely on self-enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance. Pritchard urged agencies to find common ground in recognizing one MRC viewability standard and in making sure that publishers meet specific qualifications: being TAG-certified for fraud, implementing third-party MRC accreditation for viewability, reach and frequency – particularly for the walled gardens, and do all they can to guarantee brand safety.

Brand Safety Remains Paramount
“We have a zero tolerance standard when it comes to brand safety,” Pritchard told the 4As audience. “Our brands are protected in other forms of media. The same zero tolerance standard of performance applies to all digital media… We hold agencies and publishers equally responsible for placing our ads only where they belong and keeping them away from objectionable content.”

Pritchard is outspoken in his remarks and the industry has taken notice. He is giving voice to the concerns that many of his peers have been quiet about. Transparency, simplicity and vendor reduction that supports true partnerships, are all critical pieces in moving this very promising industry forward. Let’s all pledge to do the same.