Procter & Gamble Marketing Chief Urges Media to Help Madison Avenue Find ‘Smart Audiences’

Marc Pritchard Procter and Gamble
Courtesy of Procter and Gamble

Marc Pritchard wants the media industry to help him find more of the people who are likely to be his best customers.

Pritchard, chief brand officer for Procter & Gamble, one of the nation’s most influential advertisers, told media companies and media buying agencies in a speech Thursday that big changes will continue to play havoc with the economics of the entertainment sector and urged media outlets to do more to help advertisers find audiences that are splintering across dozens of new-tech screens.

“As we all know, change never stops, and there’s more to do to make media experiences truly superior for the consumers we serve, and to drive growth and create value for our companies and for the industry,” Pritchard said in remarks delivered at an annual media conference held by the Association of National Advertisers, a prominent trade group that represents many of the nation’s biggest marketers. Procter spends billions each year behind popular products like Pampers, Crest and Tide.

With more consumers latching on to their favorite video entertainment in digital fashion, advertisers have started to break away from older systems of measuring their activity, relying less on broad audience measures and more on better-defined niches that take behavior and preferences into account. “If you think about it, the audiences we as marketers have been using for decades have been these generic demographic audiences that are very, very broad,” Pritchard said in an interview. “Women 18 to 49,  or men 18-plus, that’s a very broad definition.”

Procter is focused more intently on “smart audiences,” he said, that aim to define broad consumer niches, but still give advertisers the mass reach they need to generate awareness and a desire to make a purchase.  The company has, for example, begun to focus on finding parents, the age set of their children, whether they have pets, whether they live in cities and even what kinds of flooring they might own.

“We think in this new environment that we will be able to find our smart audiences and then engage with platforms, publishers or retailers so we can compare or latest define the audiences that would allow us to reach them more effectively,” Pritchard said in the interview.

He counseled media companies to move more quickly to devise better, more reliable systems of cross-media measurement, so advertisers can get their messages in front of unduplicated audiences without repeating ads again and again. “We need the TV broadcasters to participate in this,” the executive said. “We need to get on with it, get testing done and move forward.”

Procter and other big advertisers could stand to gain new traction on Madison Avenue as more digital companies start to adhere to new rules about consumer privacy. With some big digital outlets pledging to abandon tracking “cookies” and app monitoring, and Apple making privacy a bigger part of its corporate outreach, first-party data from advertisers is likely to grow in importance in defining and measuring transactions with media of all stripes.

In his remarks, Pritchard described negotiations taking place among media outlets, agencies and advertisers that will help make the process of measuring linear and digital audiences easier. “

“We are close, but not there yet,” he said during Thursday’s speech. “The digital platforms are ready to go, but they want to make sure the TV broadcasters are part of the testing. The TV broadcasters are understandably nervous about the eagerness of the digital platforms because they fear that low cost digital media will overtake premium TV content. It’s a fair concern, so the broadcasters have two requests. First, find a way to properly value a TV impression versus a digital impression – so we have a way to compare value in the context of the content. This makes sense, because seeing a 3-second cinemagraph on Instagram may not have the same impact as a 30-second ad on NBC’s ‘This is Us.’ And second, the TV broadcasters want to integrate the ‘Open AP’ solution they’ve developed into the cross-platform framework, to provide transparency across broadcaster inventory. This also makes sense, because it’s a strong initiative to help achieve cross-network, cross-channel, and cross-program visibility.”

Pritchard also reiterated Procter & Gamble’s commitment to supporting multicultural media and to working with a wide range of people from different background in the creative community. “Brands and agencies are making some good progress in how they broaden representation, but we need to do a lot more,” he said.