P&G's Pritchard Disses TV-Style Ratings in Favor of Tracking Sales

CPG Drove Push for Digital GRPs, but Biggest Ad Spender Sees Them As Outdated

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Marc Pritchard
Marc Pritchard
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Packaged-goods companies have been the driving force behind measuring digital and other media using ratings similar to TV, but Procter & Gamble Co. Global Brand Officer Marc Pritchard believes such measures really aren't cutting it.

Speaking at the Association of National Advertisers Media Leadership Conference in Hollywood, Fla., this morning, the chief marketer of the biggest marketing spender said the industry needs to "break the cycle of addiction to outdated metrics."

That basically means measuring how ads lead consumers to actually try and buy products, he said.

"The days are over where we could make a terrific ad, targeted to reach a certain audience, buy space in the shows we knew that audience was watching, then scale it up and sit back and watch it fly," Mr. Pritchard said. "If we measure success by a formula that starts with 'I need to reach X number of people Y number of times to produce Z number of [gross rating points] we are missing out on the potential of what digital media can deliver. Metrics like impressions, views and click-through rates are in-process measures, not outcomes."

During the question and answer period, Mr. Pritchard declined to say exactly how P&G was measuring sales return on digial investment, other than to say it's "with our own proprietary methods and partners" and that digital technology is making it increasingly possible to directly attribute sales to individual marketing efforts.

But he also had some things to say about some of those "in-process measures," specifically viewability of digital ads, where he took a hard line without spelling out specifically a more stringent standard like rival Unilever has.

"Advertisers are paying for ads that virtually nobody sees," he said. "In fact, this has become such a fact of life in our industry that one of the hottest topics of debate lately has been what is a viewable impression? Think about how ridiculous that sounds. Last I checked, an impression was a measure of viewability. What exactly is an 'un-viewable' impression? And why would any advertiser in their right mind pay for that?"

While such factors as slow ad servers are a factor, he said, "This issue simply requires applying common sense. Ads should be viewed by the consumer, and advertisers should pay for what consumers view. Full stop.

"If a brand makes a 30-second ad and a consumer views it for only 3 seconds, it stands to reason we don't pay for the entire 30. So again, technology exists to quantify consumer behavior at an unbelievably sophisticated level. We can measure everything down to key strokes, so let's use that technology to measure and pay for what's actually viewed."