Why You Shouldn’t Follow P&G’s Lead


Over the last few weeks it has been widely reported that Procter & Gamble, who control one of the largest marketing budgets in the world, have shaved $2bn from their digital advertising, a reduction of around 20%. When you have pockets as deep as P&G and you make a bold move, people rightly listen. Does this mean that we should all be looking at our digital advertising budgets and questioning them?

Yes and no.

Yes in the sense that you should always be monitoring and challenging all spend that you are committing to: is our message right, is it reaching our audience, does it achieve our objectives, do we need to spend more or less, etc. So P&G were absolutely right to challenge that spend.

However, you shouldn’t necessarily take the step of cutting 20% from your digital budget. It might just be that you need to consider these two elements instead:

You need to use tools which maximise control:

It is impossible to spend billions of dollars and control where every cent is spent, particularly as that spend will be going through an agency. However, decent marketers enjoy having control over their message distribution.

Programmatic advertising is a fantastic addition to digital marketing and theoretically offers the ultimate in control. But you may find that where your consumers are spending their time online isn’t where you want your advert to show, e.g. in mature content on YouTube or on Mumsnet.

In this case, you need to accept that people may want to engage in this content and if you want to talk to them, you may have to be less precious about your brand and place your advert where your consumer wants to see it.

Are my objectives and measurement clear?

As someone who has been fortunate enough to manage large marketing budgets, I can confirm that the emphasis on objectives and measurement is proportionally large: when you are spending a lot of money, people want a lot of return. So, if you are spending money on digital advertising and it is not achieving your objective, you should challenge everything in the process:

  • Is my objective measurable (yep, is it SMART?)
  • Is the level of budget appropriate
  • Are we reaching the right audience
  • Are we talking to them in the right place, etc.

It might be that you will not follow P&G’s lead and reduce your marketing budget, but it is a an important reminder about the importance of clear objectives and a degree of control over your marketing activity.

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