Procter & Gamble Names Flashtalking Its Global Ad Server of Record

Decision comes as advertisers increasingly seek more objective measurement providers

Advertisers are reportedly reviewing their ad serving partners and turning away from Big Tech. P&G, Flashtalking
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Procter & Gamble has expanded its relationship with independent ad server Flashtalking, a move that effectively makes it the CPG giant’s ad serving platform of record outside of the U.S. market.

The move comes as marketers increasingly examine their digital partnerships, with many electing to reduce their reliance on Big Tech, a trend that is impacting the dominant market share of Google’s ad server, popularly known as DoubleClick or Google Campaign Manager.

It’s an expansion of Flashtalking’s relationship with P&G, now covering almost 50 markets across the Americas, Europe and APAC, although it excludes China and Russia.

Meanwhile, P&G, which spends about $7 billion per year on advertising, is understood to still use the DoubleClick ad server in the U.S. Neither party responded to Adweek’s request for clarification by press time.

In preparation for the partnership, Flashtalking launched an API program to improve its integration with mar-tech providers including Oracle-owned Moat, The Trade Desk and audience measurement firm Nielsen.

This automates workflow processes and means those attempting to implement and measure the performance of P&G’s ad campaigns, such as its internal teams or media buying agencies, can do so more seamlessly.

“As we build on our tech-led, wholly client-focused approach, we will continue to expand and further strengthen our in-market support for global advertisers in any number or regions,” said John Nardone, CEO of Flashtalking.

It is understood that P&G expanding its relationship with Flashtalking came mainly at the expense of DoubleClick and Sizmek, the ad servers owned by online advertising behemoths Google and Amazon, respectively.

While the Google ad stack is one of the most cost-effective, not to mention most widely used, a growing number of media buyers are starting to question whether the measurement component of DoubleClick can perform attribution evenhandedly (see video below) given Google’s vast footprint of owned and operated media.

Ana Milicevic, co-founder and principal at Sparrow Advisers, told Adweek, “A lot of companies haven’t really paid attention to things like the ad serving technology that helps facilitate their ad buys in a really long time. And in that time, the triopoly has really consolidated by buying up independent technologies [such as Amazon’s 2019 purchase of Sizmek].”

She also noted that P&G’s decision to pair with Flashtalking may also be indicative of a shift in overall marketing strategy for the CPG giant, which operates more than 60 brands.

“This may be signaling that they’re looking at more of a portfolio view,” she added, “so it’s not just about a brand that wants to sell you hair color, but maybe, the more they interact with you digitally, the more they understand that maybe they should position these other products that are also under our umbrella.”

Meanwhile, Robert Webster, co-founder of digital marketing consultancy Canton Marketing Solutions, told Adweek that Flashtalking’s ad server has proven a notable beneficiary as advertisers implement long overdue audits of their ad stack, and increasingly conclude they want to limit their exposure to walled garden providers.

“Their benefits really fit into two areas. Firstly is the creative production and distribution platform they have, which is very strong and is going from strength to strength,” he added. “The second is around tracking and attribution, this is more complicated, and it will be interesting to see how their product and business adapts to the loss of third-party cookies and the moving requirements from browser and legislators.”

Flashtalking’s Nardone maintains his platform is already future-proofed to continue offering its performance measurement after Google implements its cookie-based measurement restrictions in Chrome

“Our platform provides three options,” he retorted. “For clients with a pervasive first-party footprint, we can implement in the client first-party domain and operate using the client identifier.”

Nardone claimed Flashtalking is currently using this method “with one global gaming client” and added that it also uses FTrack, its own cookie-less tracking tool. “We can operate off any third-party identifier. There are many companies offering these non-cookie IDs.”

@ronan_shields Ronan Shields is a programmatic reporter at Adweek, focusing on ad-tech.