Unilever threatens to reduce digital ad spend

Unilever threatens to reduce digital ad spend

Unilever CMO Keith Weed is playing hardball with online platforms by threatening to pull ad investment from any that "create divisions in society" in what will be seen as a thinly veiled warning to YouTube and Facebook allow "toxic" online content and "do not make a positive contribution to society", in keeping with the company's sustainable living goal.

One of the most powerful people in advertising says digital platforms need to lift their game to regain consumer trust and that the secret is out about the sordid state of the digital advertising supply chain.

In his keynote speech at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, Calif., Keith Weed, Unilever's CMO, demanded the industry work together to improve transparency and rebuild consumer trust in an era of fake news and toxic online content.

Unilever says it only wants to invest in platforms that take up responsibility and engage to have a positive impact on society.

Unilever cited research showing that trust in social media has hit a new low as a result of failed action over misleading or unlawful content - and said that while 2017 was the year of mobile video and voice, 2018 will either be the "year of trust" or the "year of techlash", where the world will turn on tech giants.

"Across the world, dramatic shifts are taking place in people's trust, particularly in media", Weed observed.

The largest consumer goods company, responsible for the making of Ben & Jerry's ice creams, Vaseline and Dove soaps to name a few, is the fourth-largest global advertiser. But the nearly daily increasingly volume of mainstream coverage shows that the jack is well and truly out of the box. A an industry we are sleepwalking on progress here. "We are spending far too much time talking about what are, essentially, hygiene factors".

In a speech to be delivered later Monday, of which AFP has been given extracts, Weed added that "fake news, sexism, terrorists that spread messages of hate, toxic content directed at children ... is a million miles from where we thought this would take us".

Weed expressed concerns about the digital media supply chain, which accounts for a quarter of Unilever's advertising. "It is a deep and systematic problem, a matter of faith that threatens to fundamentally undermine the relationship between consumer and brands", because "when if consumer trust suffers, we all suffers", he stated. Brands have to play their role in resolving it.

Unilever is focused on "responsible content" and "responsible infrastructure".

Anglo-Dutch consumer giant Unilever, one of the world's largest advertisers, threatened Monday to snub digital platforms that fail to protect children or help "create division" in society.

Until another of the big tech players steps up, we can expect the likes of Unilever and P&G to continue to pump cash into advertising with Facebook and Google.

Google has since said it will dedicate more than 10,000 staff to controlling extremist content on YouTube this year, and Facebook has said it will use artificial intelligence to detect images, videos and text related to terrorism, CNBC notes.