- Procter & Gamble's Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard strongly reinforced the position that his company will no longer give its advertising business to platforms that do not receive Media Rating Council (MRC) certified viewability verification for ad campaigns even though some have argued that the demands are unreasonable, as reported by Ad Age.
- Speaking at this week's Association of National Advertisers Media Conference in Orlando, Pritchard said he has heard explanations on why his demands, first voiced at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting in January, aren't feasible. He dismissed those objections as "head fakes," per Ad Age.
- "We are encouraged by the recent progress announced by the big players — Facebook and Google — and what we've heard from several others," Pritchard said at the conference. "But let's also be clear that the announcements indicate intention and work in progress. It's not enough until the verification and audits are actually implemented. We've been more than patient, because we made these requests nearly a year ago. So we need urgent completion, because then we can get to the more important work of understanding the value we're getting."
Pritchard’s call-to-arms at the IAB event was praised by some for putting a strong onus on digital platforms and advertising partners to be more accountable in verifying their media with third-parties, but criticized by others for not painting an especially clear picture of the scale or timing of that verification's implementation.
Now that major players like Google's YouTube and Facebook have bowed to the pressure and committed to MRC audits, Pritchard's latest comments on the topic come as a warning that the company is looking for actions, and not just words, from the partners it continues to work with.
Marketers like P&G have grappled with a hodge-podge measurement standards across a variety of platforms for years. Companies like Facebook have, in the past, insisted that their proprietary data sets are unique and therefore not subject to third-party verification. As some of the world's biggest brands — though most vocally P&G — demand change in the wake of frequently flubbed or overstated metrics, platforms are committing to independent verification. However, Pritchard's words this week suggest they are also pushing back in meetings with the company.
At last month's IAB event, Pritchard flatly stated the media supply chain was complicated, nontransparent, inefficient and fraudulent — problems compounded by a lack of any sort of industry standardization.
His statements have served as a sort of call to action. Last month, Digital Content Next — an organization including premium publishers like Atlantic Media, Hearst and The New York Times — sent Pritchard an open letter ensuring P&G that the quality of its media was up to snuff. As more publishers and platforms fall in line with Pritchard's demand, the pressure will likely grow for outliers — or, the "head fakers," to echo Pritchard — to do the same.
Snapchat, for example, is starting to hear demands for MRC audits as it comes out of a successful initial public offering of stock. The popular platform has often been criticized for poorly accommodating marketers advertising on it.