In its latest interactive call-to-arms, Procter & Gamble last week said it had reaffirmed its commitment to online marketing. But, to bring some order to the chaos of online advertising, the Cincinnati-based packaged goods giant simultaneously announced plans for a summit of major advertisers to consult on the future of Web advertising.
"The Web has the potential to be a dramatically more effective way for us to communicate with the people who buy and use our products," said Denis Beausejour, P&G vice president of advertising, speaking at the d:tech conference in Chicago.
P&G said it will spend $3 million on interactive advertising this quarter, 80 percent of which will go toward "beyond the banner" units, such as small "daughter" windows, sideframes, enlarged pop-up boxes and interstitials. "We've settled on ad models like banners and buttons before the interactive show even begins," Beausejour explained.
Concerning its plans for a summit, P&G said it will convene marketers including General Motors, Coca-Cola, Levi Strauss, McDonald's and AT&T, at a summer conference called the Future of Advertising Stakeholders Forum. "We all have a vested interest in making the Web the most effective medium in marketing history," he said.
Rich LeFurgy, senior vice president of advertising for BuenaVista Interactive Group and chairman of the Internet Advertsing Bureau, called the announcement "the most significant call-to-action from the client side" in the short history of the commercialized Internet. The IAB intends to work with P&G and other advertisers at the summit.
While the Web has helped change P&G's advertising and marketing, as well as its ability to do consumer research, Beausejour said, technical constraints such as narrow bandwidth, a limited infrastructure and the need for more reliable measurements must be resolved before P&G can proceed full force.
Plus, he added, P&G "really [doesn't] know how to use the Web effectively ... Web advertising today does not really deliver the kind of persuasive brand sell" of other media. "[Brands] are about trust and service and insight into what people need." Beausejour hopes the Internet can become a medium that respects consumers' security and privacy, but also is free and accessible to everyone. "Advertising needs to play a role in bringing that about."