Mega-advertiser Unilever is threatening to pull ads from Silicon Valley’s hottest properties if the industry doesn’t get its act together in stopping “toxic content.”
Chief marketing officer Keith Weed told the LA Times:
Fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, toxic content directed at children — parts of the internet we have endued up with is a million miles from where we thought it would take us. It is in the digital media industry’s best interest to listen and act on this.”
And he’s right. Unilever last year spent nearly $9.5 billion marketing its brands, including Axe body spray, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Slimfast, and Dove. Of that, nearly $2.5 billion was spent on digital advertising, the bulk of which went to the industry’s two major players: Facebook and Google.
Combined, the two accounted for about 84 percent of online ad spend last year.
Weed says the company is aiming to boost more “responsible content, including content that tackles gender stereotypes. He also wants a pledge from the platforms to create an industry standard set of ad metrics and to improve consumer ad experiences.
It is acutely clear from the groundswell of consumer voices over recent months that people are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of digital on well-being, on democracy — and on truth itself. This is not something that can be brushed aside or ignored. Consumers are also demanding platforms which make a positive contribution to society.