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marc pritchard ANA
Tom DenfordMar 07, 20175 min read

The Week That Changed Media Forever


For the second time in a month P&G’s marketing chief Marc Pritchard has called on fellow advertisers to take action. And this time he’s told them how to do it and avoid the “head fakes” as Tom Denford explains.
Marc Pritchard has already made waves at the IAB and now speaking at the ANA conference in Florida, he made more and they’re coming your way.

You’ve already seen the headlines about how Marc Pritchard used his speech at the recent ANA Media Conference to “tackle crappy media practice”, “slam the objections”, “define the headfakes” and “double down on his demands of digital ad giants” 

Panning back a little and a couple of days now after the event I think this year’s ANA Media conference told me a lot about the shifting sands of the dynamic media industry I think its changed forever, there is simply no going back.

While Pritchard’s last presentation, at IAB’s leadership conference in January, was all about the steps that P&G was taking, this time the new Chair of the Association of National Advertisers was really focused on encouraging other marketers to take the take same steps and help clean up the “crappy media supply chain”.

He took on the naysayers rebutting point by point the objections raised to his plan, drawing chuckles from the audience of US marketers – clearly they’ve been hearing similar excuses from some of their agencies and digital vendors.

But most of all Marc issued an impassioned call to arms for all marketers to join him on the journey to change. He challenged them all – whatever their budget – to demand change.

“I think you might be surprised, here’s what I want, because remember, you also have options. It’s not like there’s no options out there, so you could still take your money and put it in different places,” he pointed out giving courage to advertisers with less spend than P&G.

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After all, since his speech in February both Facebook and Google have promised to take steps to make their ‘walled gardens’ more open to 3rd party verification measurement. No vendor or platform wants to lose P&G’s millions from their 2018 revenue projections, so we expect many others to concede to Marc’s demands. In the ANA Media speech he also warned that it’s not enough to have good intentions, platforms need to actually implement. 

“It’s not enough until the verification and audits are actually implemented. We’ve been more than patient because we made these requests nearly a year ago” he said.

The exciting thing for me, attending this ANA conference was that this was more than a speech. It was a call to arms that will start to deliver real change across the infrastructure and make digital the accountable medium it always promised to be, rather than the swamp of incomparable metrics (and noise) that it can be. 

One of the biggest indicators to me was that Marc’s tone delivering this speech was often impatient, urgent and frustrated – clearly a man used to getting his own way, he made it clear he’d been patient enough

“The time for talking is over, it’s time for action now.”

“There’s no sustainable competitive advantage for anyone in a complicated, non-transparent, inefficient and fraudulent supply chain. Getting to a clean and productive media supply chain is a level playing field that we all want and need,“ he said.

To help other brands he offered more detail on P&G’s plan to reform its media practices and set out to rebut all the #headfake excuses that were offered to his team and it’s worth detailing those responses. 

His first action was to adopt a single standard for viewability– even if he accepted that the Media Ratings Council definition of viewability was the minimum standard – regardless he said it allowed advertisers to compare platforms and publishers on a level playing field.

Any platform that claimed it was different or special would be told that okay but we don’t think that’s good enough to tolerate the complexity of multiple metrics. 

His second action was to ensure that suppliers adopted MRC accredited verification. Where publishers or platforms claimed they needed more time to implement he set out a priority list: viewability, audience reach and ad frequency first. Let’s focus on the most frequently used ad products first. 

If all advertisers do the same they will create a collective force to ensure that everyone moves forward on this quickly.



His third action was transparent agency contracts. Pritchard outlined P&G’s goal to return to a clear partnership with agencies rather than simply a contractual relationship.

P&G has assigned a taskforce of experienced leaders to do a full scrub internally and externally to deliver transparency on money flows and identify holes in its contracts and it is recommended that other brands should follow suit.

His final action was to move on ad fraud. P&G is now insisting on TAG verification but the whole industry he said needed to get its head out of the sand. Any claims need to be verified and audited.

P&G has already changed its buying policy and now only buys from fully vetted sites, eliminating the long tail, notably in video.

Pritchard admitted that he’d heard about all the issues in the past but had always been reassured that P&G was a leader in these fields. Ultimately, however, that wasn’t enough.

The whole industry needed to work together to make sure the market improved overall. These are changes he said that are important for all brands to work on and I certainly agree.

The good news is that P&G’s pressure is starting to create movement on the publisher side that will benefit all marketers. Added pressure from every advertiser will create a much bigger impact and create greater change.

With greater clarity over the relationships between brand, publisher, agency and media vendors comes the chance to truly use media as a strategic tool for business growth. It takes away the doubts that can surround our industry and will encourage the C-Suite to feel more confident in what we deliver.

A more accountable media supply chain is good for everyone. With greater transparency and accountability of media investment comes more money. An accountable industry is a healthy industry for brands, confident that media is an investment that can drive business growth.

Marc Pritchard has outlined, in 22 short minutes, four steps that all brands can and should start working on immediately. Our industry will be better as a result. We cannot go backwards.



Tom Denford

Tom Denford is one of the world’s most trusted advisors to senior marketing and procurement leaders on navigating media and digital transformation. With 20 years’ experience in the marketing industry, which covers senior global roles in creative and media agencies, Tom co-founded ID Comms in 2009, with ambition for the company to be the world experts in maximising media value and performance.