PALM DESERT, CA: Unilever, the consumer packaged goods manufacturer, believes that collaboration and partnerships are more likely to deliver a cleaned up digital supply chain than simply handing out ultimatums to the biggest platforms.

Keith Weed, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Unilever, discussed this subject at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) 2018 Annual Leadership Meeting.

And he suggested that attempts to tackle issues like fake news, brand safety and advertising fraud will be more effective if marketers work with major digital players, rather than relying on demands and threats.

“I’m not interested in giving ultimatums and stamping my foot ... We all very much need to be part of the solution,” he said. (For more details, read WARC’s in-depth report: Unilever puts marketing unity before digital ultimatums.)

Building on this theme, he continued, “It’s too easy to bash the tech companies, and point fingers, and tell them to sort themselves out.

“I think it’s much more powerful if each and every one of us in the room leans in on partnerships, and doubles down to make the digital supply chain work for everyone, right through to society [as a whole].”

Weed cited YouTube as an instructive illustration. When it was revealed that some ads were being shown alongside unsafe or unpleasant content on the video-sharing site, many marketers quickly abandoned the platform in response.

But Unilever took the opposite approach. Said Weed: “We stayed with YouTube and said, ‘No; what we’re going to do is we’re going to work with you.’

“‘We’re not going to walk away, and point fingers, and tell you to sort it out and we’ll come back when it’s ready. We know this is a difficult and challenging situation, and it’s much better if we proactively, in partnership, work with you.’”

In the case of both YouTube and platforms like Facebook, which has faced criticisms about the spread of misinformation, Weed argued it was vital to let them “embed” and “scale” new models, and to remain in on-going discussions.

“I have a plan with each our digital platforms, and we have a road map, and we work against that,” he said. “What I don’t do is: I don’t put it out [in] public; I don’t make ultimatums, etc.”

Sourced from WARC