Pritchard: Digital’s Dark Side


P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard spoke before the Association of National Advertisers last week in Orlando where he detailed the history of digital, how the medium has thrown the agency world into flux and the strengths of traditional media. Pritchard says since the first banner ad was launched in 1994, it’s been quite a ride. “What followed has been an extraordinary transformation of ways to connect with, entertain, inform and engage the people we serve.” Pritchard then went into detail about digital’s dark side. Here’s what he had to say…

“And there has been a dark side to this technology revolution, most notably, the lack of transparency leading to massive media waste, outright fraud and issues of brand safety. As digital media became dominant, we faced the inconvenient truth that we were operating in a murky, nontransparent and sometimes even fraudulent media supply chain. That led to coming together as an industry during the past two years to clean up through transparency and safety. And together we insisted on. One MRC-accredited viewability measurement, third party, MRC-accredited audience verification, transparent agency contracts, TAG-certified fraud prevention and MRC-audited brand safety validation. Through the diligence of marketers, agencies, publishers, tech companies and leadership from the ANA and MRC, significant progress has been made on all fronts. We can feel good about that progress and the media waste we’ve eliminated. But we all know it’s not enough”

Pritchard went on to say that as digital continues to grow, the problems have gotten worse. “Waste continues to exist from lack of transparency and fraud. 7 out of 10 consumers say ads are annoying. Ad blocking is accelerating. Privacy breaches and consumer data misuse keeps occurring. Unacceptable content continues to be available and is still being viewed alongside our brands. Bad actors are finding ways to create divisiveness and social unrest. These are significant problems and, despite a lot of effort, these problems appear to be increasing, not decreasing. As the next half of the world’s population gets connected, it’s likely the problems will keep growing.”

Pritchard called on the industry to adopt five action steps. The first is elevate quality with control over content. “We want to partner with companies and buy media from places where the content quality is known, controlled and consistent with the values of our company as well as the everyday household and personal care brands we offer. We have quality standards that are applied to all media providers. These standards have been diligently followed for years by TV, radio and print companies for years which have broadcast licenses mandating control over their content so accountability is built-in.”

Here were Pritchard’s four other action steps

Action 2: Promote Civility: This is directly related to content quality because editorial comments have now become a significant part of the media ecosystem.

Action 3: Level the Playing Field: It’s time to finally deliver cross platform media transparency through cross-platform media measurement.

Action 4: Simplify Privacy: Consumer data is a foundation for how we do business today and a foundation for consumer trust is how we handle privacy. We all have the responsibility to ensure we protect whatever data we have and use it for purposes of serving consumers with better media and advertising experiences.

Action 5: Take Control: There’s one more step in creating the New Media Supply Chain and that’s marketers operating as Brand Entrepreneurs by taking control of our own destiny.


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