The chief marketing officer of Unilever, the world’s second-bigger marketing spender, will today threaten to pull advertising from Google and Facebook if the tech giants continue to “create division” or fail to keep children safe online.
Keith Weed, whose team spent $9.3 billion on marketing last year, will issue the warning at an Interactive Advertising Bureau in New York City today. “We cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online,” he will say, adding that Unilever will not prop up “a digital supply chain…which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency.”
Unilever has joined a raft of major firms to criticize Internet advertising in recent months. Last May Verizon and Walmart made headlines when they pulled commercials found to be showed alongside extremist material on YouTube.
UK and Dutch-headquartered Unilever’s comments may have as much to do with tightening budgets than moral outrage: the $65bn-valued consumer products company was the subject of a failed takeover bid by Kraft Heinz in 2017.
But there is considerable evidence multinationals are losing patience with opaque advertising models that oftentimes have few bottom-line effects. Last year Proctor and Gamble, another consumer items producer, claimed to have slashed its digital ad budget by $100m and seen no drop in revenue.
Beyond that firms are jumping on a growing bandwagon against the practices of Silicon Valley’s biggest players. “Consumers don’t care about third-party verification,” Weed plans to say. “They do care about fraudulent practice, fake news, and Russians influencing the US election.”