Unilever threatens to remove advertising on Google and Facebook

Unilever (LON: ULVR) has threatened to pull advertising from Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) if tech firms continue failing to prevent fake news, fraud and hate speech.

The consumer goods giant, which owns brands such as Marmite, PG Tips and Dove, will raise its concerns later today at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting in California.

Keith Weed, the Unilever chief marketing officer, will say: “We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain – one that delivers over a quarter of our advertising to our consumers – which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency.”

“Fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, toxic content directed at children – parts of the internet we have ended up with is a million miles from where we thought it would take us.

“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.”

As part of a cost-cutting drive, Unilever has cut its TV advertising and reduced the number of ad agencies from 3,000 to 1,500.

Last year the group spent €7.7 billion on advertising but are hoping to cut this following Kraft Heinz’s failed takeover bid a year ago.

Ian Whittaker and Annick Maas, analysts at Liberum, said that online advertising is facing “increasing difficulties in persuading advertisers that their product offers a brand safe environment”.

“Moreover, given the number of videos uploaded, there will always be an element of videos slipping through the net, which is likely to fuel further negative publicity. We, therefore, do not see this problem going away for the online platforms.”

“It is clear advertisers are becoming increasingly wary of online’s quality (P&G has also been cutting its digital ad spending without any impact on growth) and so are unlikely to shift money aggressively from TV to online as these concerns mount.”