Consumer goods conglomerate Unilever threatened digital giants including Google and Facebook to do a better job at combating the dissemination of the so-called "fake news" and address other issues that have been troubling their platforms in recent times or face losing billions of dollars in ad revenue. While speaking at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, California, earlier this week, Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed harshly criticized the country's largest Internet companies for not doing enough to provide advertisers with a safe environment in which they could serve their promotional content. Unilever's 2017 marketing budget amounted to $9.5 billion, approximately $2.4 billion of which was pumped into digital advertising. With Google and Facebook accounting for the vast majority of all online advertising revenue on a global level, most of that sum is believed to have been paid to them.
Besides fake news, Mr. Weed specifically highlighted racism, sexism, and extremist content that was discovered on the world's largest online platforms in recent times, calling for the Silicon Valley to approach the issue in a more aggressive manner. The executive vowed Unilever will be extra vigilant to only advertise alongside "responsible content" going forward and won't be partnering with any companies who aren't fully committed to combating illegal and otherwise highly controversial content. Unilever is already in talks with Google, Facebook, Amazon, Snapchat, and Twitter and is seeking to find a solution that can allow it to continue serving advertisements as part of networks that people find to be beneficial to the society as a whole, the firm revealed.
Amazon is widely believed to be in a unique position to grow its advertising business while avoiding the scrutiny to which social media platforms have recently been subjected to as its flagship platform is not just one of the world's most visited websites but is also almost entirely dedicated to e-commerce. Not only are people browsing Amazon.com more likely to be prepared to buy something and hence more attractive to advertisers but the service doesn't deal with news or user-created content by design. Google already vowed to do what it can to continue its collaboration with Unilever going forward, whereas the head of its flagship subsidiary YouTube recently criticized Facebook over its fake news problem.