By Michelle Clayton
P&G’s Marc Pritchard electrified the agency world a year ago with his call to clean up the digital supply chain, which he described as "murky at best".
This March, he announced that P&G had already cut 20% of “wasteful mass blasting” from its annual spend and was on the path to cutting “the elusive 50% that Wanamaker was seeking.”
“Transparency exposed substantial digital waste,” Pritchard concluded, “and P&G brought matters into its own hands by voting with its dollars.”
We pause here for a moment to take a few healing breaths and, perhaps, make a wish: that the word “transparency” had never been invented.
But that would be a mistake. Despite Mr. Wanamaker’s grumblings about waste, the advertiser-agency relationship has always been based on trust. In the hundred years from Wanamaker to Pritchard, trust has become a matter of transparency. In a market where advertisers are demanding to see the inside of the media-buying operation, the solution has to be – not less transparency – but more of it.
The Hard Work of Transparency
Transparency is hard work. “Murky” is a fair description of a media supply chain that includes TV and digital, print and outdoor, email and direct response – each purchased, billed and paid with its own unique rulesets and range of supporting technology providers. Mr. Pritchard is applying analytics to prune his advertising spend. The good news for agencies is that they can apply their own digital tools to create cost-effective transparency for the media they buy.
The missing link in most media buying operations is reconciliation of incoming invoices with buy orders and client invoicing. Get it right, and clients can see they are getting what they pay for. Get it wrong, and you plant a seed of doubt that can grow into a big bush of thorns.
That reconciliation can take up days or weeks of unbillable time. Or it can be automated so that discrepancies are cleared in minutes or hours, workflow sends the right information to the right people at the right time, and clean, accurate data flows into management and accounting systems.
That automation has a name. Productivity Wrx℠. It’s a workable, cost-effective way to fill the missing link in transparency. With clients on the hunt for wasted dollars, it may just be the way to keep your account from landing on the wrong side of the 50/50 split.