Pritchard: P&G is taking control in the media supply chain — and so can other marketers

Dive Brief:

  • Procter & Gamble’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard put forth his vision for how to fix the legacy media supply chain, according to a transcript of the executive’s speech to the Association of National Advertisers’ Media & Measurement virtual conference this week that was provided to Marketing Dive.
  • In the speech, Pritchard pointed to the need for more gender and racial diversity, greater control for brand marketers, a revamped TV upfronts and more transparency. He relayed steps P&G is already taking, like not returning to the TV upfronts, doubling down on programmatic and direct buys, as well as working with minority-owned media companies.
  • More than just a reimagining of the media ecosystem, Pritchard also urged action while expressing impatience with a lack of progress in enabling measurement across digital platforms. He exhorted all marketers to demand a “validated cross-platform measurement pilot in place [and] ready to scale” by the ANA’s Media & Measurement conference next year.

Dive Insight:

While not the first time Pritchard has called for cross-platform measurement and an overhaul of what he described as an inequitable and inefficient media ecosystem, this week’s speech is notable for having a clearer vision of what a new system might look like, and for laying out what some of the steps may be for getting there.

As the top marketer at one of the world’s largest advertisers, Pritchard has taken a leadership role on advocating for brand marketers and their needs. In this week’s keynote address, Pritchard decried legacy media models that were created for a different era, such as traditional broadcast upfronts. Instead, he doubled down on programmatic media, which he said creates a more balanced marketplace for marketers and eliminates complexity that prevents investment in smaller media companies.

Even when faced with a pandemic, an economic downturn, social unrest and climate change verging on crisis, Pritchard called on marketers to stop accepting legacy media models and instead build a new system that is altogether more equitable, responsive and practical for the digital age.

“There may never be a better time for us to lead constructive disruption and transform media,” Pritchard said.

Key to the transformation Pritchard envisions is brand marketers taking back some control from media providers, who have the upper hand in what he called an “antiquated system for broadcast TV buying” because of their access to more information.

“For marketers, this system makes little sense, yet every year, we march to the upfronts and rush to buy as much as possible as soon as possible to get the best ‘bulk deal,'” Pritchard said.

Pritchard’s remarks follow a broader movement across parts of the advertising industry to revamp the TV upfronts during a year when the system has been upset by the pandemic’s impact on the ability to produce new programming or hold in-person events.

A level playing field would be one in which marketers could plan and negotiate buying when it best suits them, with real-time flexibility to adjust to market conditions and a balanced exchange of information, per Pritchard’s remarks. Indeed, in an interview granted before the speech, Pritchard said P&G would not be going back to the annual upfronts. Instead, the company will look to negotiate directly with media providers.

“Our agencies help us and have an important role as contributing partners, but we are in the lead,” Pritchard said.

That transparent and level playing field must also extend into the digital world, where media is bought through auction. Still, information asymmetry exists when it comes to audience data and cross-platform measurement. Comparing digital media buying to the movie “Groundhog Day” because the same promises are made over and over and over again, Pritchard declared it was time for the industry to commit to developing a validated, scalable cross-media measurement pilot by by next year.

One way P&G is taking control of is media investments is with programmatic. Ninety-percent of P&G’s media spending is digital, and more than 80% is programmatic, Pritchard said. In the U.S., programmatic is close to the company’s largest media investment and experiencing double-digit growth.

“P&G preferred [media] providers are those with programmatic capability,” Pritchard said. “It levels the playing field among thousands of media companies.”

The new media supply chain also must include gender, racial and ethnic equality at every link in the chain, per Pritchard. Marketers have to commit to fair representation both within their organizations and among their preferred providers, including agencies, media companies, and production crews. In addition, marketers can help dismantle systemic inequalities within the media supply chain by working directly with minority-owned and operated media companies, he noted. Such investment helps close income and wage gaps, leading to more overall purchasing power and market growth, “which is good for society and good for business,” Pritchard said.

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