P&G Wants To Drain The Digital Advertising Swamp. Who's Going To Step Up?

Last week, the Doomsday Clock was moved from 3 minutes to midnight to 2.5 minutes to 12. Scientists believe that the chance of the world going up in a thermonuclear puff of smoke is the highest it's been since 1953. This in the same week that Marc Pritchard, the global brand building officer from P&G, made waves by announcing that P&G, in effect, had moved the hand of the ad-spend doomsday clock to 12. High noon!

In an Interactive Advertising Bureau presentation, Pritchard stated that his company was sooooo over digital advertising middle men costs, meaningless viewability benchmarks and pouring money into ad fraud.

P&G obviously carries serious weight in the advertising and marketing world. When a company exec says that it’s done with spending working dollars on non-value-adding costs and/or fraud in digital, the world pays attention. And to make sure we all know P&G means business, it has just announced a major media pitch across North Europe, the U.K. and Ireland.



More importantly, Pritchard also shared some painful truths about how the company let itself go this far. It sounded like P&G fell, like everyone else, into the rat race of chasing the latest shiny objects through industry peer pressure.

There are several important and wise lessons in P&G’s aha moment. But to me the biggest one is that its strategists forgot one of the company’s foundational strengths: P&G was always a company that was data- and fact-driven.

Advertisers are paying attention, which will hopefully push the industry to drain the proverbial swamp that is digital advertising today (see what I did there?).

So it is with conviction that I say: Dear agencies, dear 4A’s, this is a defining moment. This is a moment where you can step up and address the issues raised by all of us here in the peanut gallery of (digital) advertising, the World Federation of Advertisers, the Association of National Advertisers, White Ops and now P&G. What other motivation do you need?

It is the moment where you must step up and somehow find a way to turn the 21-3 deficit you’re facing into a win (yeah, I know, there are news metaphors all over the place today!). Someone, anyone from the agency holding companies: Be the Tom Brady your side so desperately needs.

At the same time, dear advertisers and marketers, this is not the moment to declare that all digital advertising is bad advertising. This is not the time to declare a ban, even temporarily, on digital ad spend (booyah: another one!). Digital advertising is your today and tomorrow. So don’t go all nuclear on it in a 180-degree about turn. That would be about as incoherent as not doing anything about the current status quo for the last 10 years.

It is, as always, ultimately all about the data. Data can (and must) provide the perfect middle ground to find agreement. Data must provide the measurement that will determine if and when an ad has been viewed. And that means “viewed” by human eyes, in the intended environment. Kind of like commercial ratings. And data can (and must) be independently gathered and verified. It must be transparent and beyond reproach.

So who is going to step up? Who will deliver the first meaningful response to P&G and the whole industry? Your move, agency holding companies. Brady! Brady! Brady!

6 comments about "P&G Wants To Drain The Digital Advertising Swamp. Who's Going To Step Up?".
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  1. William Urschel from Tersai Corporation, February 6, 2017 at 4:02 p.m.

    I was founder/CEO of AdECN, the first exchange for display advertisng, acquired by Microsoft in 2007.  Starting the next year the fraudsters started pumping in junk inventory and the exchanges ate it up -- because they and their DSP middlemen made money on it. I was astonished -- and have continued to be astonished -- at the industry's tolerance for being ripped off.  Good for P&G!

    Fortunately, there is a solution.  And yeah, I happen to have it.  My new company, Tersai, is partnering with MediaMath.  We have the tech that solves the problem and MediaMath has the muscle and the *courage* to do the right thing for their clients.  The results will speak for themselves.  The P&Gs will always spend where they get solid results.

  2. Augustine Fou from FouAnalytics, February 6, 2017 at 7:26 p.m.

    I like Tersai's approach.  Couldn't happen soon enough for big huge advertisers who need it. 

  3. Augustine Fou from FouAnalytics, February 6, 2017 at 7:47 p.m.

    I hope Marc's comments (and hopefully actions) are the tipping point for other advertisers to take similar stances and steps - it will go a long way to making it a bit harder for the bad guys to make money from ad fraud. 

    I've always said (up to this point) at least make it harder for the f*cquers to take your money. If you've seen what I've seen, you'll know I'm not exaggerating when I say they've been laughing at us and mocking us for years, all from the comfort of their armchairs. 

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, February 7, 2017 at 10:06 a.m.

    I agree with much of what he said, except for accepting the MRC definition of ad "viewability". This strikes me as more of a concession to so-called "industry standards" than demanding what is good for P&G brands---as Unilever appears to be doing.

  5. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, February 7, 2017 at 4:30 p.m.

    I would tell P&G this. The real problem in digital advertising is the fact the banner is not need. What is important and the only part of the digital ad that is needed is the URL link that is within the ad.  The URL, as presented as text links, cannot be blocked in our platform on We have never had a ad blocked and we don't publish fake text link ads on our website.

    The rip off happens because to pull off the crime, the banner is needed. The banner has preset size like 160x600 or 350x250 or whatever banner size is used. What is needed in all of these banners in the URL. So, why not do what we do? Eliminated the banner and just use the text link URL. The publishers can adjust to work only with the URL but the ones who cannot are the Google's, DSL's and ad distributors.  Why? because they do not want to play humans to be involved in the process of placing ads. This is about automation.

    So the answer? bring back human interaction in the process and eliminate computers programs.

  6. Rosemarie Breske from Blooming Color, Inc., February 8, 2017 at 2:25 p.m.

    I agree with P&G – the digital ad space is a swamp, and there are way too many middlemen to that want a cut of advertising dollars, simply to tell you how many “impressions” your ad received and why you should continue to spend those same advertising dollars again.

    I’ve also got your answer – printing with Blooming Color (  We’re a commercial printing company powered by state-of-the-art technology, and realizing the value of your advertising spend happens much more truthfully with print.  We help companies use a direct mail piece to draw recipients to a specific digital space where they see in real-time who responded to the printed piece and how they did it. 

    Gone are the days of printing a million pieces of anything and *hoping* someone reads it – I’ll never argue with you about that when you tell me that print is dead.  What I will tell you is that print works now when you speak to the audience of one – and if you aren’t doing that, then it doesn’t matter where you spend your advertising dollars – you’re doing it wrong.  It’s not how many clients or prospects are in your database – it’s about how much you know about them and how you shape their propensity to buy.

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