It was Unilever’s Keith Weed that pulled no punches toward the digital media industry as a whole this week. His message was clear: “Clean up or get out.” It was made abundantly evident that Unilever was no longer ready to use its $8.5bn marketing budget to prop up the industry. Especially as it has been worryingly dismissive about their level of accountability on everything from data protection to trolling.
Calling out the obvious culprits in GAFA, the broad-reaching topics that were referenced should have sent a direct message to the industry as a whole - to have more of a moral conscious and get its act together. But what’s the big deal all of a sudden?
Well, for starters, this isn’t the first time that the issue of digital platforms misusing their power, reach and influence has been brought up. Nor is it the first time that a large media spender has threatened to pull their budgets if these aforementioned platforms didn’t get their act together. It is the first time that we’ve had a consecutive series of events in recent months. That gives Unilever and the wider media community a chance to bandwagon and create more of a stand against this ongoing farce.
A drive for transparency
Keith’s message also did something quite novel. It gave some clear guidelines on what Unilever wanted to see in order to give it the comfort that appropriate steps had been taken to make progress in this area. Namely:
1. Responsible platforms: Unilever will not do business with a platform that does not protect children, or which create division in society and promote anger or hate.
2. Responsible content: Unilever is doubling down on its commitment to responsible content, initially by tackling gender stereotypes in advertising through the Unstereotype Alliance;
3. Responsible infrastructure: Unilever will only work with organisations that are committed to creating better digital infrastructure, such as aligning around one measurement system and improving the customer experience.
One of the best things to come into the industry is this collective drive for transparency, which lies at the heart of the problems this sector is facing. It’s convoluted, unnavigable and untrustworthy. It’s losing credibility at an alarming rate and until now it has been sufficient to ‘talk the talk’ and not need to walk the walk. The status quo has been enough to demonstrate you’re doing something about it without actually doing something about it. Well, 2018 certainly feels like the year this will finally change.
Cleaning up the digital supply chain
As a company that works in the world of location data, serving the digital platform industry including partners such as Unilever, we’ve seen how important transparency, relevancy and security are to every single part of the chain. We’ve placed these issues at the heart of what we do at Tamoco. We ensure that consent is properly attained. The data we collect is legitimate and accurately attributed as precisely as is possible. In doing this we hope to bring back some integrity and structure to the industry.
Keith was right – consumers do not care about third party verification. The tools that advertisers such as Unilever use for personalisation, contextualisation and measurement aren’t important if the data underpinning them has not been obtained properly, and utilised in a regulated and transparent way.
This is why GDPR is coming. Not to scaremonger the public or to shut down companies trying to use data and technology to improve services. GDPR exists to stamp out the types of unscrupulous digital platforms that misuse, mislead and misrepresent. It’s these platforms that make life harder for the industry as a whole. By promoting transparency, relevancy and security we hope to claw back some of the trust lost by the industry. At Tamoco we are excited for 2018 to become the year of transparency and control.