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Communicator of the Week: Marc Pritchard

When I gave up a significant number of weekends to study for my first PR qualification one of the questions was along the lines of, “What is the difference between advertising, marketing and PR”. This was many years ago and, if this question is still part of the exam, my answer would be wildly different today. The role of each industry in communications has shifted and the work that PR’s do today is often interchangeable with the work someone working in advertising or marketing may be doing. The trend towards ever greater digital content has been pursued by all disciplines but at what cost?

This week’s award winner set out the cost to his business - P&G - but also to wider society and particularly consumers of a failing media supply chain as he delivered the keynote address to the US Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB).

Marc Pritchard, P&G’s influential global chief brand officer, set out how P&G are changing the way they commission, produce and distribute digital advertising and then challenged the rest of us to follow suit. This was a robust speech that took on the shady world many of us will have been witness to (sometimes failed to understand) and has become an every day tactic deployed by successful campaigns the world over.

He argued that the amount spent on digital advertising is now bigger than that spent on TV advertising yet is not monitored, policed or evaluated in anyway near as robust a way. This leads to a lack of transparency, dodgy deals, even criminality, and no incentive to properly evaluate work, do things better.

Pritchard’s to do list was simple:

  1. Adopt one accredited viewability standard similar to the way TV companies agreed to the Nielsen TV Ratings System in the 1950s, even though the system was somewhat flawed. At least everyone was being measured the same. It should be the same for digital ads.
  2. Implement accredited third-party measurement verification. As Pritchard said, "We make decisions involving billions of dollars on where to invest our media money. These are big bets so we need objective, validated measurement to be sure that we’re getting the viewability, audience, reach and frequency we pay for. Regardless of how much we trust and respect the people from whom we buy media, we need an objective, impartial judge to perform the measurement.” P&G are rolling this out during 2017.
  3. Get transparent agency contracts. Pritchard shared the blame with agencies on this one saying that contracts haven’t changed while the kind of content these agencies are producing and distributing for P&G has - sound familiar? P&G are reviewing all contracts and will now only pay for work actually undertaken. For some agencies this might be a good thing as the level of work and liability for some is way beyond merely supplying a creative idea.
  4. Prevent ad fraud. This is essentially the nicking of someone else’s creative content for monetary gain and is pretty rampant. Again, this has benefits for agencies and creatives as much as for multinationals such as P&G.

I love that Pritchard was able to go out and use P&G’s considerable clout to shake things up. He demonstrated transparently what they were already doing about these issues then called for everyone else to go along with them too. By doing this he instantly became a leader on an issue that many were aware of but didn’t have the financial muscle or will to tackle themselves.

This was an important speech with the potential to significantly move on the debate about evaluation and measurement in communications. This was relevant whether you work in PR, advertising or marketing or create content daily and cannot comfortably say in what industry you work. It will be interesting to watch things develop which is why Marc Pritchard is my Communicator of the Week.

Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite.

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