P&G's Pritchard Calls For Fundamental Changes To The Media Trading Ecosystem

Calling the current system of buying and selling media non-transparent, inefficient and inequitable, Procter & Gamble’s Marc Pritchard called for fundamental changes—including bidding adieu to the upfronts—that he hopes are in place a year from now.

Pritchard, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer, made his comments today during a virtual conference hosted by the Association of National Advertisers.

As for the upfronts, which he called “inconvenient at best” Pritchard said P&G no longer participates and called on other marketers to follow suit because the system “makes little sense.”

“This system must change,” he said. “A level playing field means planning and negotiating when it fits the business—that’s calendar year for most.”

He added “that’s why at P&G we’ve taken control of when we negotiate and buy TV media.” And that means negotiating directly with as many media owners as possible. He stressed that the company’s agencies continue to play an important role as “contributing partners” but “we are in the lead. We give and get the information needed to make decisions that create value for P&G brands and for the agencies and for the media partners. It’s not about winners and losers—it’s about a level playing field to constructively creative value together. “



Pritchard said digital trading—where four players dominate and share as little information as possible—must change too. “We’ve asked for data so we can compare and make media choices across platforms,” he said. The company has also asked for other changes like a universal ID that the industry can use for “responsible” targeting before cookies are eliminated. “Over and over we hear the same refrain…’sorry, no can do…for privacy reasons.’”

“We want a transparent and level playing field, where all players—digital and TV alike—participate in cross-platform measurement,” Pritchard said.  He called on all marketers to demand that a validated cross-platform measurement pilot is in place by next September. “We’re committing resources to help and we expect the platforms and the broadcasters in concert with the ANA and the MRC to get this done—no later than September 2021.”

At the same time Pritchard said, P&G—in a bid for more control-- is shifting as much media as possible to programmatic. “We want more control over ad placement and we want greater transparency” he said.  And the industry has long way to go, he added. “Unfortunately the famous quote from business pioneer John Wanamaker more than 100 years ago is still true today: ‘Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.’”

He cited China as an example, where over 90% of the firm’s media is digital and 80% programmatic.  In the U.S. programmatic “is nearly our largest media investment and growing in double digits.”

Pritchard also called for equality in the media supply chain, including equal gender equality and race and ethnicity representation across marketers, agencies, production  outfits and media companies. Ultimately, he stressed equality will lead to market growth.

Another urgency, he said, is eliminating hateful content online. “Social media is about 5% of P&G’s marketing spending and 150% of our problems,” Pritchard lamented.

“We are tired of wasting time monitoring content. It’s time for digital platforms to apply content standards properly so we can spend time on doing good and driving growth.”

7 comments about "P&G's Pritchard Calls For Fundamental Changes To The Media Trading Ecosystem".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, September 24, 2020 at 9:40 a.m.

    While I no longer sell TV, I understand the role of the upfronts.  P&G doesn't have to buy upfront, but it's a good time for the networks and properties to present what they have planned for the next year.

    As for blaming four players for dominating the digital landscape, that's just lazy marketing.  There are so many fantastic digital properties and having such a heavy reliance on Google, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. is just taking a lax approach (and lack of creativity).

    While programmatic is important, it plays too heavy a role for many major buyers.  If you want true contextualization, combined with custom activations, going direct is always going to be better. 

    I just find it odd that major players have spent decades working on custom TV executions but many of those same players don't spend nearly as much time working with their digital partners to come up with creative executions and rely on programmatic and "four players" and then expect amazing results. 

    There is plenty of transparency and safe content for a company like P&G - they just need to spend more time talking to more than 6 digital partners.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 24, 2020 at 11:14 a.m.

    While I have called for major changes in the upfront TV buying process---such as two upfronts---one for low CPM  audience tonnage, corporate buyers; the other for better targeted, brand-specific, buys but higher CPMs---the P&G criticisms make little sense. For example, Marc keeps saying that the agencies buy too much---meaning, I guess---GRPs. How can that be when the upfront process creates a corporate pooled budget of dollars and GRPs based on the brands' stated "needs" for the upcoming season. The agencies merely execute these as specified---by daypart and network type---they don't buy anything they feel like, nor do they buy 2000 GRPs when the plans call for only 1000---the money simply isn't budgeted to allow for that.Moreover, the agencies invariably work with the client's media people and obtain their agreement for all significant buys. Isn't this true at P&G?

    If P&G is really abandoning the upfront, it has many problems to deal with. First, you will need to subscribe to Nielsen and create a staff of experienced buyers plus analysts to handle your negotiations as well as the detailed post buy servicing that is required. That's not as easy as it sounds as ambitious, upwardly mobile, TV folks have nowhere  to go at a company like P&G unless they want to become marketing people. Second, how will you determine that you are getting the best deals---CPM-wise----when all you know is what the sellers are telling you? Will the agencies supply such data to guide you based on their work for other clients? I doubt it. Third, if you are buying "when you need it" that means that you will be at the mercy of the scatter market---where all content is not automatically available and CPMs are usually far higher than the upfront as currently  constituted. Since when is P&G a high CPM TV time buyer?

    I suspect that Marc is merely putting  pressure on the agencies and the sellers to do better and that P&G, once it takes caereful stock of the pros and cons,will, indeed,  make certain types of deals on its own with the sellers---such as digital  or product placement  buys---but will continue to use the agencies and participate in the upfront. Maybe I'll be surprised on this---we'll see.

  3. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics replied, September 24, 2020 at 2:54 p.m.

    No surprises. This is all about negotiations.  

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 24, 2020 at 3:45 p.m.

    But Jack, who is he going to hire to buy his TV time---those agency buyers who are doing such a bad job of negotiating---or, maybe, some folks from the sellers? or a bunch of consultants?

  5. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics replied, September 24, 2020 at 4:22 p.m.

    Great questions. Of course there are immense challenges, but it's something to say to sellers to try to keep pricing down and pressure agencies who work with him to do so. 

  6. John Grono from GAP Research, September 24, 2020 at 6:55 p.m.

    I take the issues raised seriously.  None of them are new.

    The challenges are myriad and difficult but inroads are being taken.   Here in Australia we have tried to 'harmonise' the audience measurement of each medium over the past decade and a half.   What we have is not perfect, is not finished, but is usable.   The clever clients are using the data to model what works and what doesn't FOR THEIR BRAND and contingent on external MARKET FORCES.

    One thing we have established is that a "verfied view" in one medium is not necessarily (and usually isn't) equal to a "verified view" in another medium.   This is partially due to the power and/or suitability of each medium for the campaign.   In essence it may take 10x 'verified views' in medium A than medium B to shift the needle the same amount.   In fact it may even imply that in a well designed and researched econometric brand model that 'impressions' may work just as well as 'verified views', which may also mean that medium A needs 20x more impressions than medium B.

    Oh, and I find it laughable that a deadline of 'no later than September 2021' was touted.   Even if you threw 1 billion dollars over the next year at the problem you wouldn't have 'the solution' as money can't buy time.

  7. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 24, 2020 at 9:14 p.m.

    John, it sort of reminds me of the syndicated "Star Trek" TV series where the captain sernly say, "Make it so", to his subordinates-----but doesn't dig into the details of how that is to be done. There's been lots of talk but very few substantive suggestions for improving the upfront system---except for going to a calender year---which really solves nothing and adds more complications.

Next story loading loading..