Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, is threatening to cut back on its marketing using tech giants such as Google and Facebook if the platforms “create division,” fuel hateful views or fail to protect children, The Financial Times reported.
The company is set to put the Silicon Valley companies in a limelight during a speech Monday by Unilever’s chief marketing officer Keith Weed during the annual Interactive Advertising Bureau conference.
“As one of the largest advertisers in the world, we cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online,” Weed is expected to tell the audience, the paper reported. “We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain — one that delivers over a quarter of our advertising to our consumers — which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency.”
The advertiser’s criticism follows lawmakers, activists and former tech executives who criticize the Silicon Valley tech companies for their lack of transparency, inability to scrub their platforms of extremist or illegal content and curb the spread of the so-called “fake news.”
Ian Whittaker and Annick Maas, analysts at Liberum, told The Guardian that YouTube – which is owned by Google – and Facebook are facing “difficulties in persuading advertisers that their product offers a brand safe environment.”
They added: “Moreover, given the number of videos uploaded, there will always be an element of videos slipping through the net, which is likely to fuel further negative publicity. We therefore do not see this problem going away for the online platforms.”
“It is clear advertisers are becoming increasingly wary of online’s quality and so are unlikely to shift money aggressively from TV to online as these concerns mount.”
Weed is expected to promise to “prioritize investing” only in digital platforms that act responsibly and create “a positive impact in society.”
“Unilever will not invest in platforms or environments that do not protect our children or which create division in society, and promote anger or hate,” the chief marketing officer plans to say on Monday. “We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society.”
Unilever is expected to warn other advertisers to take the Google-Facebook duopoly to the task and prevent the erosion of trust online.
“Consumers don’t care about third-party verification. They do care about fraudulent practice, fake news, and Russians influencing the US election. They don’t care about good value for advertisers. But they do care when they see their brands being placed next to ads funding terror or exploiting children,” Weed is set to say.