Social Networks 'Don't Have Right' to Ad Dollars, Says P&G Honcho

19 November 2008

CINCINNATI: It's not the honeyed phrase FaceBook, Bebo, Twitter et al had hoped to hear from the planet's largest advertiser: "Social networks may never find the ad dollars they're hunting for because they don't really have a right to them." 

Thus opined Ted McConnell, Procter & Gamble's general manager for interactive marketing and innovation, in his address to the Ad Club of Cincinnati.

Referring to constant carping by analysts and other industry observers that social networking sites are failing to monetize their operations, McConnell fired straight from the hip.

"I have a reaction to that as a consumer advocate and an advertiser. What in heaven's name made you think you could monetize the real estate in which somebody is breaking up with their girlfriend?"

He harbors similar thoughts about the wider market of consumer-generated media.

"Who said this is media? Media is something you can buy and sell. Media contains inventory. Media contains blank spaces. Consumers weren't trying to generate media. They were trying to talk to somebody.

"So it just seems a bit arrogant. ... We hijack their own conversations, their own thoughts and feelings, and try to monetize it.

"I don't think everything every consumer says to someone else and writes down is somehow monetizable by the media industry."

Stressing that he was expressing a personal preference rather than P&G policy, McConnell added: "I really don't want to buy any more banner ads on Facebook."

Nevertheless, he retains an interest in such sites for the creation of an environment that is favorable for P&G brands and consumers alike.

Asked about the growing differences of opinion on the value of performance-based models like pay-per-click versus other paradigms such as cost-per-thousand (CPT) , he predicted that the chasm will widen as recession spreads.

Said he: "Spray and pray' is a little harder to do when you're under economic pressure  . . . so performance-based advertising will gain share over CPT."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff