P&G comes down hard on media practices, calls them "murky" and "fraudulent"

Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) chief brand officer Marc Pritchard said the company will be reviewing all of its agency contracts this year in a bid to drive a more cleaner media supply chain and transparent digital measurement.

Currently he calls the state of the media supply chain "murky at best" and "fraudulent at worst". He is as such, demanding for better advertising to drive growth. This he said, will happen only if enabled by media transparency to drive a "clean and productive" media supply chain.

"We need to clean it up and invest the time and money we save into better advertising for growth," he added. Better advertising and media transparency are very closely related, he said. This is because "better advertising requires time and money" and yet advertisers are "wasting too much time and money on a media supply chain with a poor standards of option."

Speaking at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting 2017 which was held in the US, Pritchard claimed that digital could no longer "free pass" when it came to measurement and marketers should crack down on "fraudulent" measurements. He said with the rise of digital there has been an "exponential increase in crap".

Craft or crap. That's really the big question and technology enables both. All too often the outcome has been crappy advertising, accompanied by even crappier viewing experiences.

He was quoted by several publications saying that brands need to step up and take actions and that P&G no longer wants to “waste” time and invest in “crappy media supply chain”. As such, it is giving agencies one year to clean up their act.

Here's a snippet on what he said:


He shared the company's plans to take action to clean up the media supply chain and encouraged the industry to apply the steps to their own business. There were four points he clearly highlighted on the IAB US website were:

  • Firstly, the company plans to adopt one viewability standard: one MRC-validated viewability standard.
  • Secondly, the company plans to implement accredited third-party measurement verification. This means that very media supplier, including publishers and measurement vendors, are expected to adopt MRC-accredited third party verification during 2017.
  • Thirdly in order to get transparent agency contracts the company is now reviewing every agency contract.
  • Fourthly, to prevent ad fraud the company is insisting that any entity touching digital media must become TAG-certified during 2017.

During the talk, Pritchard made it clear that these are the steps that it expects its partners to take and comply with to achieve a transparent, clean, and productive media supply chain.

These steps have been taken at a time when "trust" has become a major concern for advertisers.

Recently, a recent private survey from research firm Advertiser Perceptions read that advertiser confidence in digital/social platforms runs significantly below 50%. The survey also mentions that marketers think that social media has too many unknown factors especially with the mounting unease over reporting.

The report also suggested that third-party verification can’t come too soon to digital media, as the combination of bot fraud, fake news and audience restatements has 50% of marketers saying they will no longer place advertising on a platform they consider risky.

These come shortly after Facebook recently admitted that it had identified discrepancies between count for the Like and Share buttons via its Graph API. It also identified discrepancies in the Like and Share counts when a user enters a URL into the search bar in the Facebook mobile app.

Moreover, inconsistencies were also discovered from its streaming reactions feature for Live videos. This was due to the misallocation of extra reactions from “Reactions on Post” to “Reactions from Shares of Post” section in the Page Insights function.

It is just not the social media platform that are under the scanner for trust issues, agencies too have in the past reported false metrics and face charges over billing clients.

Last year, the Japanese arm of Dentsu, Dentsu Inc also admitted to claims that its subsidiaries, DA Search and Link (DASL), had overbilled long-serving client Toyota for its performance marketing services.

This is not the first time a media agency has faced such a public issue of falsifying claims or overbilling clients.  In 2014, WPP’s MediaCom faced similar issue for fabricating campaign data in the Australian market which led to several of its other clients reviewing their relationship with the agency.