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P&G: Billions “wasted” on digital ads

P&G skyscrapersBrand advertising needs a wake up call. FMCG companies have been flooding the internet with annoying and irrelevant advertisements, while the problems with ad placement have been largely unaddressed.

That’s what the chief brand officer of one of the world’s largest FMCG companies, Procter & Gamble, told an audience at Dmexco this week.

Marc Pritchard, the executive who oversees marketing for Gillette, Olay, Tide, Pantene, Oral-B and Head & Shoulders, said that P&G spends $200 billion on digital marketing annually, but only 25 per cent of the content makes it to customers.

The startling figure has led him to call on the digital marketing industry to adopt five key steps for transparency to deal with the undercurrent of bot-driven ad clicks inflating ROI figures and the brand implications of ads showing up next to violent or pornographic content, an issue which has plagued platforms like Youtube recently.

They included MRC-validated viewability standards, bringing in MRC-accredited verification, TAG-certified ad fraud detection and the introduction of guaranteed brand safety assurances.

“There’s no question that an advert should never appear next to an ISIS video, but how many cat videos do we need to be next to? And is a toothpaste ad next to a cat video really going to be an effective placement?” he said. “We took the head fake on the promise of cheap ads on thousands of websites reaching millions of consumers, but it proved the old adage: you get what you pay for.”

Pritchard also believes companies haven’t innovated enough in the digital marketing space and have instead carried over TV advertising philosophy, something that’s been ineffective.

“For too long, what we were doing was flooding digital media with 30 second ads, because that’s what we knew from television,” he said.

“Data is telling us that the average video is only watched for 1.7 seconds, barely the blink of an eye. We can make a two second ad work, and we do, but we can do better than that, and that’s why we’re working with partners like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and WeChat to create the next generation of ads, because it’s time for brands and digital media to address the problem of annoying ads.”

Pritchard said that only 25 per cent of the money P&G spends on digital media actually makes it to the customer, which at $200 billion in annual spend is quite significant.

“It’s frankly time to stop giving digital a pass and ask it to grow up,” he exclaimed.

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