Unilever marketing boss Keith Weed

Unilever’s marketing boss Keith Weed is threatening to pull investment from platforms that “breed division” or fail to protect children from toxic content, and is calling on the digital media industry to “overhaul its behaviour” or risk losing the trust of both consumers and brands.

In a speech he is set to give this afternoon (12 February) at the IAB’s annual conference in California, US, Weed will make a promise that Unilever “will not invest in platforms that do not protect children or which create division in society”. He will name-check the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google, Snap and Amazon, saying that Unilever does not want to advertise on platforms that do not “make a positive contribution to society”.

And he will say that with the rise of “fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate and toxic content directed at children”, parts of the internet have become toxic.

“The wider impact of digital on our society and the swamp that is the digital supply chain has become a consumer issue,” he will say.

“It is in the digital media industry’s interest to listen and act on this. Before viewers stop viewing, advertisers stop advertising and publishers stop publishing.”

He explains that the advertising industry has so far been “sleep walking on progress”, spending far too much time talking about hygiene factors such as viewability and third-party verification without looking at the big picture and the message it sends to consumers.

We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency.

“Consumers don’t care about third-party verification. They do care about fraudulent practice, fake news, and Russians influencing the US election. They don’t care about good value for advertisers. But they do care when they see their brands being placed next to ads funding terror, or exploiting children,” he adds.

“They don’t care about sophisticated data usage or ad targeting via complex algorithms, but they do care about not seeing the same ad 100 times a day. They don’t…