Even The World’s Largest Advertisers Struggle to Fix Ad Tech
Marc Pritchard of P&G ushered in ad tech’s year of transparency when he said online marketing was “crappy” at an event in February. In the same speech, he promised that P&G would no longer pay for digital marketing services that didn’t meet his standards.
This week at Cannes, Pritchard updated the industry on his crusade to bring transparency to ad tech. He reaffirmed his commitment to require third-party verification from all vendors by the end of the year, noting that P&G is about half way through reviewing its agency contracts with an eye towards accountability.
It also appears as though the world’s largest advertiser finally influenced half of the duopoly to improve. Just last week, Google announced that it will provide advertisers a third-party guarantee that “most of their ads can be seen by users.” Timelines for the update were vague, promising results by the end of the year.
Google’s announcement was wisely made right before Cannes, easing criticisms that marketers might have had about the company’s foot dragging going into the industry’s largest event.
But it should be seen as an empty promise for now as Google has no actual policy or plan in place to make it happen—and the wording of “most ads” already creates questionable confidence. Plus, it still hasn’t found a solution to advertiser concerns about brand safety or industry standards to help marketers compare performance.
That storm is brewing quickly. At Cannes, Unilever’s Keith Weed voiced his displeasure with 50% viewability benchmarks, saying that 100% is the only fair metric and that his dollars “will follow the best advertising platforms.” Sounds like a subtle threat to Google to me.
Ad tech that doesn’t work for advertisers, publishers, and users is doomed to fail. It’s a shame that it’s taking a coordinated effort by the world’s largest advertisers to create a fair system that was deserved all along.
Even if they succeed in bringing transparency to the ad tech ecosystem, restoring trust in those platforms and their networks will be a much harder battle.