PALM SPRINGS, Calif – Unilever is working with social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube on a “collaborative” basis to improve their content for the good of society while building a private blockchain to tackle transparency issues surrounding its own digital advertising.
“The swamp isn’t very transparent,” says Unilever Chief Marketing & Communications Officer Keith Weed, whose speech at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting was intended to prod online platforms to foster inclusivity as opposed to divisiveness. In this interview with Beet.TV, Weed says that simply threatening to withhold advertising dollars from digital platforms while expecting them to solve their own content challenges isn’t the proper course for the industry.
“They all have their different challenges. All of them are seriously engaging them,” says Weed, adding that he wants to see “an acceleration and bigger commitment to this moving forward.”
He believes that, like Unilever itself upon its founding in the 1880’s, digital behemoths like Facebook and Google intended to make the world a better place, but the horse of progress has galloped off without the cart of good intentions.
“I think what’s happened with technology is the acceleration of unintended consequences has happened very rapidly,” Weed says.
He notes that even as negative headlines about the hygiene of the digital media ecosystem—both for advertisers and consumers—proliferated at the time of last year’s IAB gathering, Unilever did not walk away from the table. “Not only did we stay with YouTube, and we still are, we very publicly stayed with YouTube.”
Aside from its collaborative approach to problem solving with digital platforms, Unilever is actively harnessing technology to protect its own interests by experimenting with blockchain to achieve complete transparency on various kinds of online and offline transactions. In the everyday supply chain, the company has used blockchain to keep tabs on the path taken by tea as it makes its way from farmers in Africa to supermarket chains in the U.K.
“We’re finding it’s really helping us understand where the value exchange is and the different people” involved along the way.
If the same thing could be done with digital media transactions, it would solve lots of issues. “If you can manage to get each and every player to engage in the blockchain, this could take out a lot of the noise,” Weed says.
Unilever is working with IBM iX on its blockchain initiative, which the company’s EVP of Global Marketing, Babs Rangaiah, explains in this interview.
This video is part of a series covering the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. The series is sponsored by AppNexus. Please visit this page for more coverage.