P&G Not Happy With Digital Media – An Opportunity For Procurement?

We’ve seen procurement and supply chain issues hitting the press more than ever in recent years, but last week The Times featured an area that is new to general front page news, if not to the specialist marketing press.

Over several days, the paper picked up on the problems with “programmatic” advertising, and in particular how adverts for well respected firms (and government) are appearing on websites alongside videos promoting Isis, “fake news” stories and the like. Not only is this bad rather than good publicity for those firms who think they are advertising on reputable websites, but it also means they are paying good money that ends up in part in the pockets of the terrorists or fake news providers. In the case of YouTube for instance, the poster of the video makes £7.60 for every 1000 views.

Linked to that, the Times reported a recent high-profile speech by Marc Pritchard at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting. He is the chief brand officer of P&G, one of the every biggest advertisers in the world (you can read a detailed review of his remarks here in Marketing Week). He hit out at media agencies for not having a better grip on where adverts are appearing, and he said the increasing trend for consumers to use technology to block ads is due to “crappy advertising”.

Craft or crap? Technology enables both and all too often, the outcome has been more crappy advertising accompanied by even crappier viewing experiences,” he said, according to a transcript of his speech seen by Marketing Week.

He also hit out at the lack of transparency in the market, so advertisers don’t really know how many real people see their ads. They also don’t know what dodgy payments are perverting the market: rebates, kick-backs or worse are going on, so buyers have little sense of true value they are obtaining.

“… we’re all wasting way too much time and money on a media supply chain with poor standards adoption, too many players grading their own homework, too many hidden touches, and too many holes to allow criminals to rip us off”.

So the advertisers aren’t happy with what they are getting for their money, and must be unhappy at seeing their lovely adverts next to videos of the Isis flag or articles about imaginary Obama scandals. P&G is therefore taking four steps to clean up the supply chain: adopting one viewability standard, implementing accredited third-party measurement verification, getting transparent agency contracts, and preventing ad fraud. The firm has given its agencies and media suppliers a year’s notice, threatened to take business away from those we don’t comply.

You would think this is all good news for Marketing Services procurement people, or should be anyway. Driving for transparency in contracts and supplier performance and understanding of the supply chain should be exactly the sort of goals a category manager in this sector should be addressing.  As we have said many times before, the concept of “unit cost reduction” in this category in virtually meaningless, and is certainly not what motivates our internal stakeholders like Mr Pritchard.

Getting real value from the spend, negotiating transparent, fair and commercial contracts, stamping out unethical and even illegal business in the supply chain, protecting the brand and the reputation - these are the sort of strategic objectives that should be right up our professional street. If that is not where procurement of marketing services currently is in your organisation, perhaps you can use the speech and associated commentary to drive a different and more valuable role?

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