In July, when Procter & Gamble reported its quarterly earnings, the company said slashing digital ad spend by $140 million had “no negative impact on growth rate.”
The company significantly cut back on the number of websites it advertised on between January and May 2017. In January, P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard called out the digital ad industry for lack of transparency and a polluted supply chain, and he has continued to be a vocal advocate for better digital ad experiences.
According to a new report by ad sales insights platform MediaRadar, P&G ran ads on 20 percent fewer sites overall between January and August 2017 from a year ago — 1,251 websites, down from 1,565 during the same period in 2016. Notably, P&G ran ads on just 59 percent of the same sites year over year. MediaRadar tracks ad campaigns across channels, including online, TV, mobile, and print.
P&G’s biggest year-over-year programmatic advertising drop-off came in April, when P&G cut the number of sites on which it ran ads by nearly 70 percent. Starting at the end of March, many brands pulled back ad spend on YouTube and elsewhere after ads were found running alongside extremist video content. After freezing YouTube campaigns, P&G eventually returned to advertising on YouTube’s preferred channels.
In a sign that P&G has become more confident in the ecosystem, the company began increasing the number of sites it advertised on year-over-year in July, reports MediaRadar. The timing is interesting in that it coincides with the earnings report details, but it signals P&G got the industry’s attention this spring.
“P&G has gained more transparency over its campaigns, which has resulted in a bounceback,” said Todd Krizelman, CEO and co-founder of MediaRadar. “They’re the biggest advertiser in the US and one of the biggest in the world. If they want more transparency, agencies, vendors and publishers are going to deliver it. Because of this, media partners have been compelled to install more brand safety measures in an effort to retain and win new business from P&G.”
P&G is not alone, said Krizelman, adding that “brands are demanding increased transparency from their partners and cutting ties with those who don’t meet their strict standards. Our data shows that advertisers have become much more cautious with their campaigns, as many have reduced the number of sites they buy on.”
The industry has responded with several initiatives aimed at cleaning up the supply chain and improving ad experiences, but clearly, brands are reevaluating their approach to programmatic in ways that will have long-term effects.