Unilever is marching forward on its battle against online ad fraud with the Unilever Trusted Publishers network. The new group of strictly vetted networks must meet Unilever’s standards of viewability, verification and brand value.
The Trusted Publishers network is comprised of yet-to-be-named digital platforms and publishers across global, regional and local levels. Each must meet stringent requirements according to Unilever’s “3Vs” that include viewability, verification and [brand] value.
In addition to meeting Unilever’s standards, members of the Trusted Publishers network impose strict expectations on whoever advertises with them regarding ad fraud, ad formatting, brand safety, traffic quality, data access and more, according to a press release.
Keith Weed, Unilever’s renowned chief marketing and communications officer, will retire in May 2019 but not before he issues another blow to would-be fraudsters. Weed will discuss the topic on Thursday at the WFA Global Marketer Week conference in Lisbon, Portugal.
“Online advertising credibility is still a global, industry-wide problem and as the world’s second largest advertiser, we have a responsibility to use our scale and influence to address this issue,” Weed said in a prepared statement. “The Unilever Trusted Publishers will add more rigor to how Unilever advertises online.”
According to a 2018 study by Dianomi, click fraud accounts for up to 90 percent of clicks for online campaigns. Despite this, Forrester found that only 19 percent of marketers had taken systematic action to prevent fraud as of 2017.
Last year, Unilever debuted its Digital Responsibility Framework that focuses what the consumer packaged goods (CPG) giant will and will not invest in. Unilever said that it would not invest in any platform or environment that promotes division, hate, fraud or a lack of influencer transparency. The brand also tackled gender stereotypes with its #Unstereotype Alliance and committed to partnering only with networks that create a better digital infrastructure.
Unilever did more than threaten digital ad networks, however. Instead, it formed an alliance that will, if all goes well, create a global solution committed to privacy, consumer experience (CX) and ad ecosystem innovation first. Partners for this initiative include Facebook, Twitter, Google, Nielsen and Kantar Media.
It’s not often that a company makes public demands of this nature, but Unilever is one of the top ad spenders on the planet. The giant made good on its threats, too—Nielsen reports that Unilever spent 29 percent less on ads in 2018.
Despite lower ad spend, Unilever reported a 51 percent increase in annual net profit for the fourth quarter of 2018. Driven by growth in India and other Asian markets, the company
reported a net profit of 9.8 billion euros ($11.2 billion) in 2018 compared to 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) in 2017.