The start of 2017 saw Marc Pritchard, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer, deliver what was referred to as the "biggest marketing speech for 20 years".*
Pritchard took to the stage at the IAB Annual Leadership meeting and called for digital media “to grow up”. His call to action and request to the industry, “we need better advertising to drive growth, enabled by media transparency to drive a clean and productive media supply chain”.
The issues Pritchard talked through were not new with numerous cross-body initiatives already set up in the UK and globally to help tackle cleaning up the supply chain. However, with the weight of a $7 billion annual ad spend behind P&G, his words created waves and headlines. The Times’ investigation a few weeks later just served to echo his sentiments further and the need for transparency was thrust into to the spotlight once again. So six months on from that speech, what has changed?
Working in a digital media agency, the issues highlighted are topics we’d already been working on with our clients. The opportunities presented by programmatic advertising are evident but the challenges over quality of inventory is an area we’ve been well aware of. Long before the start of 2017, bodies such as the IAB and cross-industry groups like JICWEBS have been working to ensure that the industry is ‘growing up’.
Whilst our dialogue with our clients’ marketing teams hasn’t immediately changed, we have seen a notable increase in the need for our day-to-day clients educating their internal stakeholders on the topics raised. Whilst high up on marketing teams’ agendas, we have seen a positive shift in discussions on digital marketing performance with a number of stakeholders now leaning in on the topic.
Google & Facebook
Following reports of major brands’ ads running against extremist content YouTube, Google were forced to review their processes immediately and have begun working with third-party verification partners to help put brands back in control. Facebook also agreed to third-party verification in order to provide “transparency, choice and accountability”. The walled-gardens of Google and Facebook are still there but there is evidence that they will be coming down (albeit very, very slowly).
Media & tech partners
The JICWEBS’ Town Hall last week was standing room only and highlighted how our agencies’ current and potential partners are now proactively beginning to lead conversations around how best they are tackling the issues. Whereas previously we often found the dialogue was one-way with us questioning partners on certification and processes, 2017 has served to highlight which media and tech partners are helping us move towards a “clean and productive media supply chain”.
So six months on, the need for digital media to grow up is firmly on everyone’s agenda in the advertising ecosystem. Priorities which once may have been limited to an advertiser’s digital marketing teams have now infiltrated to wider teams and stakeholders. The industry news can sometimes be dominated by more glamourous discussions on data and tech but the past six months has seen more willingness to engage in conversations on this topic. As an industry we are just at the start of our journey to help achieve Pritchard’s goal which is shared by many, however it was just the kick-start required to engage the masses.
Sharan Cheema, Client Services Director
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