Won’t work with online ‘influencers’ who buy followers
Unilever, the world’s second-biggest advertiser, is cutting ties with digital media “influencers” who buy followers, saying it wants to help make advertising more transparent.
The practice of buying followers erodes trust and damages the billion-dollar-a-year market known as Influencer Marketing.
Unilever chief marketing officer, Keith Weed (pictured) said, “Trust comes on foot and leaves on horseback, and we could very quickly see the whole influencer space be undermined,” he told Reuters.
“There are lots of great influencers out there, but there are a few bad apples spoiling the barrel and the trouble is, everyone goes down once the trust is undermined.”
The announcement comes months after Keith threatened to pull investment from digital platforms such as Facebook and Google if they did not take steps to improve consumer trust and eradicate “toxic” online content.
He says, he has heard estimates that as much as 40% of influencers have been involved at some point, sometimes accidentally.
It also comes as Unilever and rival Procter & Gamble audit their advertising spending and agency relationships in efforts to operate more efficiently as sales growth of consumer packaged goods slows.
They are working with fewer agencies, creating fewer ads and bringing some marketing work in-house.
Fake followers are often machine-generated profiles fuelled by “bots” or software applications that mimic human behaviour. They can “like” or comment on posts, giving the impression of popularity or engagement.
A study last year by Rakuten Marketing said some UK marketers were willing to pay celebrity influencers more than USD100,000 for a single Facebook post.
A “micro-influencer,” with fewer than 10,000 followers, might earn as much as 1,500 pounds, it said.
Keith add that the company does not now have “a major issue” with fake followers since it already cleaned up its stable of partners.
He declined to say how much Unilever paid its influencers but shared that “tens of millions” was on influencer marketing, and predicts this trend will grow.
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