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  • Pam Zucker

In Support of What Marc Pritchard Actually Said at The ANA Media Conference

A Better Way to Solve the Marketers Dilemma

On Thursday, March 3, Marc Pritchard gave a strong lesson in media innovation in his keynote address at the ANA Media Conference. I was at the event, and I think that the reporting on his remarks thus far has missed the real point of his message. The reporting has suggested that P&G wants to “do away with the inefficient Upfront process that is plagued with ineptitude and misleading processes” according to one reporter. That was not the message I heard. He may have talked about the Upfront being broken, but that is not news. I believe he used the known flaws in the Upfront process to articulate a broader message about the need for continual innovation, inclusion, and respecting the consumer.


What I heard Marc clearly articulate were 5 salient points to guide the next phase of media and solve the marketers’ dilemma of driving business growth in a complex media ecosystem. Marc’s 5 key points were::

  1. Respect consumer data as their data

  2. Innovate in media buying and placements

  3. Connect media to commerce

  4. Innovate to immerse & engage consumers

  5. Accelerate growth with multicultural media


To me, the overriding message was consistent with what I have heard Marc and P&G preach for many years: The consumer is the boss and if you respect their time and meet their needs with innovative products and innovative marketing, they will reward you with purchases and loyalty.


The reporting on Marc’s keynote only focused on point #2 - Innovate in media buying and placements. The reporting ignored his other smart and critical insights into the media process. And to be sure, if marketers focused on points #1,3, 4, and 5, they would have a quicker path to growth. Who can argue with the validity in respecting consumers’ data, the need to connect media to commerce, engaging the consumer, and accelerating your commitment to multicultural media? These are not controversial, but sound media fundamentals in 2022. The press grad on to the one element where they know they can grab headlines and create tension.


With that said, I don’t want to ignore what Marc said about innovation in media buying and placements, which has garnered all of the press attention. I worked closely with P&G for 20 years, and they always pushed the need for innovation, efficiencies, and effectiveness in the supply chain whether they were buying chemicals and plastic or impressions and experiences. And let's face it, the media supply chain is not perfect. In my opinion, the broken supply chain that was being referred to in the innovation in media buying and placements insight can be bucketed into four areas for immediate action. Actions that can change the game to create a better consumer experience without upending a process that will evolve as the landscape evolves. The Upfront process has undergone changes in the past five years and will continue to evolve. But in my opinion, long-term commitments to buying reserved premium inventory is here to stay - and that is a good thing. And the media ecosystem will continue to bring more data and automation to the process for continual improvements. Today, media owners, marketers, and agencies can all contribute to improving outcomes of the buying process without overturning it completely. Here are my recommendations.

  • Marketers must embrace the use of data-enabled linear TV and welcome, not fight, plan fluidity (impressions delivered across linear, digital, and CTV) to reach their strategic audience across platforms

  • Media owners must eliminate the urge to build new walled gardens that prevent (or makes difficult) a holistic view of a client’s buy

  • Media owners must stop packaging client-defined low-value inventory with client-defined high-value inventory. Let the buyer purchase what they believe will best influence their customers. Allow real supply and demand to dictate pricing. Let the undervalued inventory be inexpensive (and become biddable to a greater degree) and retain high-value inventory for direct sales and maximize the price.

  • Agencies must embrace new planning technology that allows them to understand the trade-offs between different platforms at different volume levels and pricing levels. This will also begin to solve the issues with too much frequency against the same consumer and programming overlap between platforms that sell the same inventory (the real concern of Marc’s point regarding the need for innovation in media buying and placements).


The remedy to innovation in media and placements can be in large part solved with fresh thinking and the willingness to act in the best interest of the consumer, without displacing the entire buying process. Marketers and their agencies need to invest in planning and buying technology that solves for a holistic view of their media, making traditional media data-enabled and understanding the trade-offs between the value of different media elements.


Let’s all stop sensationalizing the evangelism of smart media rules for the road to gain eyeballs. This is what we criticize far-left and far-right news outlets for doing and politicizing every dimension of our world. The media news industry must do the same and stop trying to turn buyers and sellers into adversaries. Simply put, buyers and sellers should be healthy sparring partners — each fighting to grow their businesses and delight consumers. Instead, start reporting on the technology solutions that can help solve the marketers' dilemma. And you can start with Amobee, we’re ready to share our solution.


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