Campaign UK

One thing Pritchard’s speech failed to cover

It may not have got top billing in the P&G boss’ pow­er­ful ad­dress to the US IAB, but ad­ver­tis­ing viewa­bil­ity is an­other area where the in­dus­try needs to im­prove

- MAISIE MCCABE Social Media · Unilever NV · Cannes · Procter & Gamble · Picaboo · Facebook · Mark Zuckerberg · Interactive Advertising Bureau · Chris Clarke

Was Marc Pritchard’s con­fes­sional to the In­ter­ac­tive Ad­ver­tis­ing Bu­reau the most im­pact­ful speech ever given by a mar­keter? It’s a ques­tion that would prob­a­bly not go down well in Unilever House, but I can’t re­mem­ber even Keith Weed’s con­fer­ence-hall­fillers in Cannes hav­ing a life­span longer than the hard-work­ing ex­ec­u­tives’ sun­tans.

Maybe it was the many news lines that he gen­er­ated. Pritchard’s speech pro­vided a com­pre­hen­sive in­dex of the prob­lems fac­ing mar­keters and the in­dus­try more broadly. There was the murky dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing ecosys­tem where peo­ple – fraud­u­lently or op­por­tunis­ti­cally (or both) – are mak­ing money at ev­ery­one’s ex­pense. He also spoke about the ex­po­nen­tial rise of crap ad­ver­tis­ing (as Lau­rence Green dis­cusses on page 27). And Proc­ter & Gam­ble not re­al­is­ing that some of its agen­cies were able to make money off the com­pany’s me­dia spend. I think a bit of self-dep­re­cat­ing hon­esty is a great in­gre­di­ent that gives the rest of the speech flavour. Pritchard was so frank, the end re­sult was full of spice.

But de­spite all that can­dour, I can’t help won­der­ing if he went far enough on the sub­ject of ad­ver­tis­ing viewa­bil­ity. I guess, if the sec­tor has been work­ing on the Me­dia Rat­ings Coun­cil stan­dard since 2010 and still not en­forced it broadly, throw­ing in a whole new set of met­rics as part of a wider speech might have been a tad am­bi­tious. The MRC stan­dard al­lows for an ad place­ment to be charge­able if 50% of the pix­els are view­able for at least a sec­ond. Yet dur­ing the 2015 edi­tion of his afore­men­tioned Cannes spec­tac­u­lar, Weed – decked out in his cus­tom­ary lime-green jacket – called for 100% viewa­bil­ity to be the stan­dard. And that was in-be­tween ma­jor­ing on sus­tain­abil­ity and brand pur­pose.

What­ever met­ric the in­dus­try de­cides upon – and it bet­ter choose one soon – an­other key part of this will be open­ing up to in­de­pen­dent ver­i­fi­ca­tion. Ahead of its im­pend­ing IPO, Snapchat went out of its way to be the friendly so­cial net­work em­brac­ing third-party met­rics and promis­ing to pay taxes in the coun­tries where it gen­er­ates rev­enues (who’d have thought it?). So Face­book’s an­nounce­ment just days af­ter Pritchard’s di­a­tribe that it was open­ing up to third-party ver­i­fi­ca­tion was en­cour­ag­ing. It’s a wel­come volte-face from a com­pany that was plagued by met­ric scan­dals last year. Last week, Face­book founder Mark Zucker­berg also ac­knowl­edged the dam­age done by fake news.

In De­cem­ber, Cam­paign de­clined to award a Medium of the Year be­cause Face­book, while dom­i­nant, was fail­ing to take its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties se­ri­ously. In his ex­cel­lent piece on page 16, Dig­i­taslbi’s Chris Clarke says it’s in mar­keters’ gift to push for change. Just as ad­ver­tis­ers have the future of the press in their hands – as I wrote last week – the agency ex­ec­u­tives man­ag­ing the deal books could also play a role in push­ing up stan­dards. Let’s hope the me­dia bosses Face­book is talk­ing to at Mo­bile World Congress man­age to find time be­tween the tours and tapas to ask some search­ing ques­tions.

“Face­book’s an­nounce­ment just days af­ter Pritchard’s di­a­tribe that it was open­ing up to third-party ver­i­fi­ca­tion was en­cour­ag­ing”

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