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P&G revisits marketing spend to avoid bots, 'objectionable content'

Consumer goods maker Procter & Gamble Co. has streamlined its marketing spending over the last year in an effort to keep its ads away from "objectionable content" and reach more consumers, its top executive said Feb. 22.

The Cincinnati-based company found that up to 20% of its marketing budget was being spent on efforts that were duplicative or did not meet company expectations, P&G Chairman, CEO and President David Taylor told an audience at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York's 2018 conference in Boca Raton, Fla.

In some cases, ads for P&G products were being shown to consumers online as many as 20 times, far above the average of three times the company expects, Taylor said, citing figures from the Media Rating Council. The company has also used information from the council to determine whether the advertising platforms it uses reach human customers or computers.

P&G has since reallocated part of its marketing spending, a move that Taylor said has expanded the number of customers it reaches by 10%.

"With third-party measurement of viewability and bot fraud, we now have a mechanism to only pay for ads that people see and engage with," he said.

Taylor's comments come roughly a week and a half after rival Unilever Plc said it would avoid online platforms that create divisions in society by displaying "toxic" ads. At an industry conference, Unilever's top executive in charge of marketing said he had discussed the company's expectations with multiple technology companies, including Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.-owned Google.

Like P&G, Unilever has also re-evaluated its marketing spending in recent quarters, according to the Anglo-Dutch company's financial results. Broadly, many consumer goods makers have revisited their marketing strategies after ads for their products appeared alongside content they found inappropriate, such as sexually suggestive videos of children on Alphabet's YouTube, Reuters reported in November 2017.