P&G's Marketing Chief Says It's Not Cutting Back on Facebook Ads, It's Targeting Better

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During an Advertising Week session with execs from Facebook and General Motors, Procter & Gamble’s marketing chief explained that his brand is not scaling back its advertising budget on Facebook, despite a report last month to the contrary. Instead, Marc Pritchard said, it’s getting smarter about its digital ad targeting.
In August, a story in The Wall Street Journal suggested that P&G was pulling its spend with the Menlo Park, Calif., company over targeting concerns. However, Pritchard clarified during the panel this afternoon that P&G is dividing up its spend according to specific brands. For some brands—toothpaste, for instance—that means serving ads to a mass audience. More niche brands like those of pregnancy products have to home in on specific demographics and markets.
“The headline was technically accurate but a little misleading,” Pritchard told a roomful of marketers. “We weren’t getting more reach. We asked Facebook, ‘How much reach can we get on your platform?’ We were making choices on targeting that were too narrow in some cases.”
The CPG CMO said that by opening up wider parameters for ad targeting, the company “can get 70 to 80 million users.”
He added, “The question with targeting is this: ‘It’s not if—it’s how many.’ Every audience is a target, so you need to think about how many. If you want to reach all category buyers of toothpaste, it’s almost everyone. If you want to reach pregnant women in their first trimester, it’s a much different level of targeting.”
Specifically, Pritchard said, Facebook creative has to work in exactly 1.7 seconds to stop someone from scrolling through their news feed.
“You have 5,000 ads that are coming at people every single day,” he said. “We have to paint across the whole canvas, tailor the creative to what works in every platform but do it in a way where it looks like the whole brand.”
One P&G brand that’s particularly focused on creating custom content for Facebook is Tide, which has 30-, 15- and five-second spots, Pritchard said.
At the same time, he acknowledged that his brand struggled with Facebook in the early days of the platform’s ad business.
After Facebook hit 250 million users in 2009, Pritchard said he started considering Facebook more seriously as a marketing platform because it had mass reach. P&G brands then started building Facebook pages and accumulating fans, but individual brands couldn’t grow a following of more than 10 million fans.
“We built a reach tool with them, and some of our stuff was crap—it was bad. … We had to learn how to make video work where it’s long form where you can share often or you can connect and grab someone in the first five seconds,” he said.
Another brand that has a notoriously rocky relationship with Facebook, General Motors, famously shut down its ad budget in 2012 after questioning the effectiveness of sponsored posts.
To hear GM CEO Mary Barra tell it though, times have changed.
“There were maybe some early statements made that weren’t necessarily representative of exactly where the whole company was,” Barra said. “We want to make sure that it’s metric-driven, and we’re choosing the right channel because we’re still using multiple channels. That’s the way we started the conversation and continue to build on it.”
Earlier this year, GM became the first automaker to livestream on Facebook when it unveiled a new car at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, was also quick to point about another GM campaign with videos that were created and targeted to three different groups of consumers: those who were interested in safety, business leaders and tech enthusiasts. “For 7 percent of their budget, we returned 56 percent of their media impressions,” she said. “That’s an example of intermediate targeting.”
Sandberg also addressed Facebook’s recent video miscalculations that inflated brands’ video views for the past two years. Echoing Facebook vp of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson’s remarks on Monday, Sandberg apologized for the mistake.
“It wasn’t a metric that advertisers were buying on,” Sandberg said. “We weren’t doing any billing, so it didn’t affect revenue directly. But we take every mistake very seriously.”
She added that Facebook does provide some third-party measurement, although marketers are increasingly concerned about its so-called walled garden that limits the amount of data given to publishers and marketers.
“This is why we offer third-party metrics and measurements,” Sandberg said. “One of the announcements that we’ve had around Ad Week is deeper measurement with deeper partnerships so that we can not just grade our own homework but have other people do it.”
Source: AdWeek September 27, 2016

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