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Business Insider
June 23, 2018
The world's largest advertiser is pushing Facebook and Google to share their data — and hinted it's ready to spend its money elsewhere

Marc Pritchard, who oversees marketing for the world's biggest advertiser, Procter & Gamble, has been on a crusade to clean up digital advertising. His next mission is to get the so-called walled gardens — Facebook and Google — to bend on sharing their data with advertisers. And he thinks he's got a good shot. Regardless, P&G doesn't want to rely too much on the duopoly. He said there were "many ways we can reach people."

Marc Pritchard, the chief brand officer for Procter & Gamble, has spent the past few years on a crusade to clean up digital advertising.

Now he may be taking on an even more quixotic mission: getting the so-called walled gardens to lower their walls just a bit.

In a sit-down with Business Insider at the Cannes ad festival, Pritchard said he was feeling better about P&G's digital advertising output, citing strides the industry had made in sniffing out fraudulent ads and making sure brands pay only for ads people can see.

Phase two of his digital cleanup, he says, is to get Facebook and Google to share more of their data. And he thinks he can get the famously data-hoarding duopoly to bend just a bit.

Facebook and Google have massive data assets that power their businesses

Both Facebook and Google have reams of data on customers (where they live, what they search for, and the like) that is used for ad targeting. And advertisers have long grumbled that these two tech giants won't let that data leave their premises.

And Pritchard doesn't expect them to just hand that date over — such powerful data sets are a massive business advantage. More specifically, he wants the duopoly companies to help P&G match up the audiences it is targeting elsewhere on the web with its targeting efforts on Facebook and Google.

That way, theoretically, P&G can see how many times it's reaching a person across the digital landscape and make sure it isn't pounding the same people over the head with the same ads again and again.

This kind of insight could also help its brands spend their ad budgets more effectively, since they should have better information on what's working and what isn't.

Lots of brands have complained about this dynamic. Pritchard says he's talking to Facebook and Google and thinks he'll get a solution.

"The next level of transparency is going to come from how to avoid that cross-platform frequency," he said. Based on P&G's research on this subject, in some cases the company's brands were under the impression they were reaching people three times with an ad and it was closer to 10 or even 20 times.

Not only is that a waste of money, but it annoys people, Pritchard said. "It's a consumer pain point," he said.

OK. But haven't the big platforms been resistant to any data sharing? Pritchard says no. "They're willing to do it," he said. "They're trying ... it is a bigger challenge because they need protect privacy data. But what we have said is, 'We just want you to help us solve the objective rather than telling you how to do it.'"

"We will see," he said. "We're still in the early stages of this frontier."

Facebook and Google are listening, but P&G only has so much leverage

P&G is the world's biggest advertiser. And because of that, it's had a history of using its clout to get what it wants from media partners, whether that is good pricing or unique deals.

But Facebook has roughly 6 million advertisers, and Google is in the same neighborhood. So what leverage does P&G have?

"At least in the transparency world, when we called this out, the big platforms responded," Pritchard said. "They knew it was the right thing to do."

"But because they have 6 million," he added, "we can't rely on just them — there's many fish in the ocean and many ways we can reach people."

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