Facebook, Google Improve Transparency After P&G Cuts Ads

Last year, Procter & Gamble cut its digital advertising by more than $200 million, after its call for transparency wasn’t satisfactorily answered. The company, whose brands include Crest, Pampers and Tide, believed that much of the spending on digital ads was not effective and that it could find more productive means of reaching consumers. The company cut $100 million in last year’s June quarter, for $100 million, with $100 million more from July through December, and included “several big digital players.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard, spending with big digital players was cut by 20 percent to 50 percent. Pritchard, who has been a major critic of “digital advertising clutter,” is expected to announce those cuts at the Association of National Advertisers media conference this Thursday.


P&G’s measurement data showed that, “the average view time for a mobile ad appearing in a news feed, on platforms such as Facebook, was only 1.7 seconds” and that “some people were seeing P&G ads far too many times.” “Once we got transparency, it illuminated what reality was,” he said.

Pritchard challenged tech companies to “clean up the digital ad ecosystem” a year ago, asking “Alphabet’s Google and Facebook to implement safeguards to prevent ads from appearing around controversial content and to allow independent verification of their ad measurements.”

The company then suspended advertising with YouTube after its ads “appeared alongside objectionable videos.” P&G then shifted its advertising dollars to “TV, streaming services such as Pandora Media, and e-commerce giants such as Amazon and China’s Alibaba.”

Since P&G made its advertising cuts, Pritchard said, “YouTube and Facebook have demonstrated a significant change in attitude,” pointing to YouTube’s help in stopping to spread the Tide Pod Challenge viral videos. YouTube also added more human reviewers and allowed marketers to have more control over where their ads appear; Facebook also changed its algorithm “to address concerns over the quality of content on its platform.”

Independent measurement firm Media Rating Council is also auditing data and ad metrics for Google and Facebook. According to Pritchard, “the big tech companies have met 90 percent of his demands.” In the fiscal year ending July, P&G spent $7.1 billion on advertising, down from $7.2 billion the previous year, of which “digital accounts for roughly one-third of its annual ad spend.”