Pritchard: Still No Wiggle Room in P&G's Digital Ultimatum

In January, Procter & Gamble Co. Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard laid down the gauntlet for digital media: Get your outside audience verification plans accredited by the Media Rating Council this year or lose your P&G budgets.
Some results have followed. Last month, the MRC said it had started an audit of three firms' methods for measuring Google's audiences and brand safety, with results expected by early in the fourth quarter.

But that's no guarantee of success. And players including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Snapchat aren't even that far along, with less than six months left.
So is P&G prepared to make good on its threat? In a recent interview with Advertising Age, Pritchard said he sees progress, but he's not budging -- at least not yet. That could affect the company's business even with Amazon, which is both a major P&G customer and media vendor. And the real work, he said, starts when digital measurement transparency is in place and cross-media analysis starts in earnest.

The following interview has been edited.

How do things stand on what you've asked the industry to do on digital accountability and brand safety?
Progress is being made. My estimate is that we're maybe 40% of the way there. The digital players have stepped up and are focusing on it. What's very encouraging is that other marketers have gotten involved. We need an industrywide effort.

But no one else has made an ultimatum that platforms need verification by year end or they stop spending. You're still firm on that?

We will vote with our dollars. It's that important. And the reality is that there are a lot of fish in the sea.

One of the "walled garden" platforms mentioned by MRC CEO George Ivie back in March was Amazon. Will you even stop advertising on Amazon if they don't get verified?
It's media. It's the same expectation wherever we put media dollars. We need that kind of verification. It's just common sense that you can measure what you pay for. Then the hard part comes. Once we get the clear transparency on what we're getting comes the analysis of whether it's worth advertising there.

Any wiggle room? If everyone is making a good-faith effort and the MRC is still working on some of this stuff will there be an extension?
We'll see. No wiggle room now. It's a really important expectation. It's time.

Some folks believe the whole resistance by digital players to verification was really about not wanting to have performance comparable across media. Think there's anything to that?
I don't know about that, because I have heard some of the technical issues. I didn't start this discussion in January. It started well before that. But I do know this, that when we get that transparency we can do the analysis, and each of the players is going to have to earn their way into the investment.

Here's a theory...

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