P&G Parts With AudienceScience, Tees Up Neustar And DSP Posse

Seven years after first embracing programmatic buying at scale through its secretive Project Hawkeye initiative, Procter & Gamble is saying goodbye to long-time ad tech partner AudienceScience.

In its place the company will install Neustar as its data management platform alongside an assortment of demand-side platforms, including The Trade Desk. Ad Age first reported the story.

Reached by AdExchanger, P&G spokeswoman Tressie Rose said the key word in P&G’s strategy is “flexibility.”

Rose said the company would stand by Neustar as a “multi-region” DMP, but that it would avoid exclusivity in its DSP relationships so as to empower marketing managers in the USA, China and more than 50 other countries where it buys media programmatically. Instead of being “all in” with its ad buying platforms, P&G will allow region-by-region and brand-by-brand customization of the toolset.

“We want to continue to raise the bar and certainly that includes our media capability,” Rose said. “Part of that is to provide more flexibility around the world, and allow our regions to have more local flexibility.”

The company has declined to name DSP partners beyond The Trade Desk, but said the door remains open to other suppliers.

The brand’s DMP appears to be a different story, with Neustar winning the whole enchilada or something close to it.

“We have looked and will continue to evaluate new and emerging ways of executing programmatic,” Rose said. “We were early adopters into programmatic and we’re going to continue to invest.”

During a bake-off that played out over the winter and spring, the company evaluated a range of DSPs including Rocket Fuel and MediaMath.

This process appears to have been handled largely in-house, without the participation of its media agency, Hearts & Science. However the Omnicom Group-owned agency already has close familiarity and training on Neustar via a holding company-level partnership with the DMP that was set up back in 2013.

Hawkeye Pierced

P&G notified AudienceScience and its new partners of its decision on Monday. P&G’s contract with AudienceScience expires on June 30.

AudienceScience Chief Product Officer Tim Barnes expressed disappointment in an interview with AdExchanger, but said his company would soldier on.

“P&G conducted a big experiment on the idea of productizing an integrated solution that could revolutionize the way media is bought and sold and set a standard for things like fraud control,” Barnes said. “We’ve spent seven years building a solution that does exactly that.”

The end of its relationship with P&G is a serious blow to AudienceScience. The company has other clients, but Barnes said he was not at liberty to identify them.

On the bright side, the company will no longer have to contend with an exclusion contract barring it from working with consumer goods companies that compete with P&G.

“My anticipation is we will continue to speak with other companies especially in the large brand space that see value in the approach,” said Barnes.

Those talks will be buoyed by the considerable data asset that AudienceScience has at its disposal after working with the world’s largest advertiser over such a long period.

“We would never share P&G strategy, data or intellectual property,” Barnes said. “That said, we have 250 publisher relationship globally where we are doing data collection.”

Additionally the company claims to have its tags in the headers of some 1,500 domains worldwide.

CPG Cost Pressure

The ad tech shakeup comes amid considerable marketing budget cuts at P&G. On its Q1 earnings call the company detailed plans to remove more than $1.5 billion in marketing costs – including $1 billion in media costs alone – over the next five years.

The savings will come through a dramatic reduction in the number of agencies on P&G’s roster, from 6,000 to about 3,000 globally.

Additionally, P&G has been vocal about seeking new efficiencies within the programmatic supply chain. Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard has been ubiquitous at industry conferences, lashing out at what he characterizes as an unacceptable lack of standards and accountability in the digital media supply chain.

Even the company’s CFO, Jon Moeller, is piling on.

As Moeller told investors last week, “We’re working to lead the effort on media transparency, eliminating costs in the media supply chain created by poor standards adoption, too many players grading their own homework, too many hidden touches, too many holes, where criminals can rip us off.”

Moeller added, “We’re letting our spending talk.”

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  1. I guess this was a long time coming as P&G was trying to figure out programmatic and using AudienceScience team as a way to learn. Once they figured out what they needed, they ditched AS, de-centralized and will be more flexible. Kinda sucks for AS cause P&G had some tough requirements for their media, which was almost impossible to source or match. Things like running super high video frequency caps of like 1/24hrs on super low CPM inventory. The budgets never really spent.

  2. While it definitely makes sense to work with different DSPs in different countries, working with multiple ones within the same country will inflate media costs. By targeting audiences syndicated by Neustar, P&G will either create their own bidding war across DSPs targeting similar audiences or give each DSP very small mutually exclusive audiences that can’t scale without insanely high bid prices.

    They are definitely on the right track with a refined programmatic strategy focusing on audience, but artificially inflated media costs coupled with a dramatic reduction in media budgets will simply lead to far fewer people being exposed to their messaging.

    • Rob C.

      Not if you only run on your own audience segments. This is the right move for P&G.

      • I’m sorry, but that is a compelling myth that makes its way into a lot of sales pitches but glosses over some of the fundamental mechanics of RTB.

        There will be a ton of overlap between their target audience segments. Gillette, Oral B, Old Spice, Crest, will share a lot of users. Targeting with multiple DSPs will simply drive up prices for each audience because each DSP will be bidding on largely the same users. I typically see inventory CPMs increase 15% to 40% due to a large decrease in price reduction whenever a brand retargets users across 3+ DSPs (range varies based on pool and budget sizes). When they consolidate, their inventory CPMs will go down a similar amount on SSPs that don’t support dynamic floors.

        Excluding consolidation, the only way to avoid a cross-P&G bidding war is to create and syndicate audiences are kept mutually exclusive within Neustar. This will prohibit them from reaching users with ads from multiple brands.