×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Unilever Presses Digital Influencers to Drop Bots, Fake Followers

Unilever wants social-media influencers to give themselves an authenticity check.

The big-spending advertiser behind such well-pitched products as Dove, Lipton’s tea and Hellman’s mayonnaise intends to announce Monday that it will no longer work with influencers who buy followers – the coin of the realm in social media.

“At Unilever, we believe influencers are an important way to reach consumers and grow our brands. Their power comes from a deep, authentic and direct connection with people, but certain practices like buying followers can easily undermine these relationships,” said Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing officer, in a statement (above, pictured). “We need to take urgent action to rebuild trust before it’s gone forever.”

The consumer-products company, which also makes and markets everything from Axe grooming products to Klondike and Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream treats to Q-tips, is expected to announce the new policy Monday at the Cannes Lions advertising festival.

Several big advertisers have begun to use influencers more often. Procter & Gamble, the U.S., consumer products giant that competes directly with Unilever, has started to work with more of them. “We are getting others to speak on our behalf,” P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard told Variety in May. “You can work with influencers and then influencers can speak on our behalf and drive their own social media audiences to be able to draw people in.”

Bloggers, vloggers, and tweeters have reason to increase their followings. The more people they reach, the more marketers might pay them.  Unilever cited data collected by Captiv8, a company that connects influencers to brands, showing an influencer with 100,000 followers might earn an average of $2,000 for a promotional tweet, while an influencer with a million followers might earn $20,000. A January investigation by The New York Times examined one company, Devumi, that sold and resold a vein of 3.5 million automated accounts to various customers who wanted to gain more followers on Twitter.

The directive marks the company’s latest effort to push back against what advertising executives say is a constant threat in the field of online advertising, which continues to grow in popularity as more consumers embrace social media, streaming video and mobile devices. Advertisers worry about disparities in measurement of online audiences and verification that ads seen by digital users make the impression their publishers say they do. They have also grown concerned about the content sent to consumers – whether it’s real and whether it sparks political and cultural division and rancor.

In February, Unilever’s Weed cast aspersion on social-media outlets, noting that they are filled with messages of hate and division, and often allow inappropriate content and fraudulent news items to exist alongside better content. Weed said the company won’t invest in “ad platforms that do not protect children or which create division in society” and will “only partner with organisations which are committed to creating better digital infrastructure, such as aligning around one measurement system and improving the consumer experience.”

 

More Digital

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Sirius Logo

    SiriusXM Unveils $8 Essential Plan for Consumers Without Cars

    SiriusXM wants to cater consumers without cars, or cars without compatible stereos, with a new $8 plan for mobile and in-home listening. Dubbed SiriusXM Essential, the plan offers access to 200+ channels featuring the network’s entire music programming, as well comedy, news and select sports channels. Consumers will be able to test the new plan [...]

  • Mueller Report Book Editions Top Amazon's

    Mueller Report Book Editions Shoot to Top of Best-Seller Lists at Amazon, Barnes & Noble

    Robert Mueller is now a best-selling author. Book publishers’ forthcoming editions of the special counsel’s report zoomed to the top of the Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s lists of book best-sellers Friday. That comes a day after the report was publicly released, culminating the nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election [...]

  • Marques Brownlee - Retro Tech

    YouTube Orders Marques Brownlee 'Retro Tech' Original Series

    YouTube has turned to one of its homegrown stars — technology vlogger Marques Brownlee, aka “MKBHD” — for its newest original series. The video platform has greenlit series “Retro Tech” featuring Brownlee, in which he’ll unbox and review vintage technology products that have defined pop culture. The show, slated to debut in December 2019, follows [...]

  • Netflix Tests Random Episode Button in

    Netflix Starts Testing Random Episode Button

    Netflix is testing a button to play random episodes of select TV shows, the company confirmed Friday morning. “We are testing the ability for members to play a random episode from different TV series on the Android mobile app,” a Netflix spokesperson told Variety. “These tests typically vary in length of time and by region, [...]

  • Netflix Our Planet Sophie Darlington

    Netflix's 'Our Planet' Roars to Life With Work by Top Wildlife Cinematographers

    In terms of scope, production time and — very likely — budget, Netflix’s “Our Planet” is one of the most ambitious projects from the streaming service to date. Narrated by David Attenborough and made available worldwide on April 5, the goal of the eight-part series is to capture diverse habitats across the globe and highlight [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content