CANNES, France: Unilever is to change the way it tracks and evaluates its adspend as campaigns are increasingly spread through informal networks online, rather than by paid-for media.

The Anglo-Dutch company - which owns brands including Persil, Axe and Dove - will increasingly look to measure how its brand communications are disseminated via channels such as personal websites, blogs and online video.

It says it will treat its digital budget as an element of overall marketing mix, rather than part of its media spend, in recognition that successful digital campaigns are based more on producing engaging content than paying for media time and space.

An online film for Dove received one of three Grand Prix awards in the Cyber Lions category at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival - and has also been popular on video-sharing sites such as YouTube.

Speaking at the festival, Simon Rothon, Unilever's svp of global marketing services, said: "It can be misleading to look at just our paid for media expenditure, because a lot of the value we get from the digital world is essentially free or almost free."

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff