Advertising Agencies Sound Off on P&G’s Call for Greater Digital Accountability

Digital media is put on notice by one of the world’s largest marketers.
Kammi Altig, Manager, Communications
April 5, 2017

At recent industry events, P&G’s Marc Pritchard made headlines when he called out the digital media industry with its “non-transparent supply chain with spotty compliance to common standards, unreliable measurement, hidden rebates and new inventions like bot and Methbot fraud.” It was a bold, in-your-face message that resonated with many frustrated by digital’s unwillingness to grow up and demonstrate its value in the face of issues like ad fraud, ad blocking, programmatic transparency and viewability.

To get a better understanding of how Pritchard’s message was received, we invited the members of AAM’s advisory committees to share their opinions. The group with the strongest voice was advertising agencies. Their collective input leaned toward one conclusion: finally.

One advertising agency respondent said: 

I applauded the speech and truly hope this allows us to dig deeper into digital accountability.

Another respondent applauded the move to make digital media accountable in the same way newspapers and magazines are held accountable:

Digital has always enjoyed a false sense of accountability. All other media is held accountable to a third party and it’s about time third-party verification was standardized for digital. 

Not everyone thought Pritchard’s message was on target. One respondent shared a blog from Bozell that argued Pritchard’s message may be overlooking the value of taking a risk in favor of the bottom line. 

It’s up to smaller players to get comfortable with the unknown. Yes, we should hold vendors to high standards. But we should also hold ourselves to high standards. Standards of innovation. Standards that say our brands will do something no one else has thought of before.

In a follow-up article, Marketing Week also asked advertising agencies to respond to the speech. Ian Millner, CEO and co-founder of Iris Worldwide noted, “It’s always reassuring when a client says something that a lot of agencies (the well-behaved ones, at least) have been pushing for a while. Pritchard’s comments come at a time when they are desperately needed. I’ve said before that trust is the most valuable principle for sustainability and profitability.” 

AAM’s own CEO Tom Drouillard recently identified one of the key components that allows the industry to continue avoiding the fraud problem, “The industry has inertia to the way it works. Some say fraud is just part of how things work, some level of fraud is acceptable, and we should get over it because we can’t do anything about it.”

In Pritchard’s world, those days are over and digital media is on notice.

“We’ve been giving a pass to the new media in the spirit of learning,” he said. “We’ve come to our senses. We realize there is no sustainable advantage in a complicated, nontransparent, inefficient and fraudulent media supply chain.”

Media accountability is a topic that touches all parts of the digital ecosystem. For more conversations like these, check out our library of industry interviews.