Top of Mind Thursday February 15, 2018: Not Content with Bad Content

Top of Mind Thursday

They’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. This week, Unilever, owner of more than 1000 global brands, threatened to pull its ads from online platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter if they don’t clean up their content.

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We’ve heard about how the Russians created fake news and ads to influence the 2016 elections. Now advertisers are pushing back about fake news, hate speech, and abusive content. They don’t want their ads showing up on YouTube next to content from sexual harassers or white nationalists.

This is no small matter. Digital advertising spending hit $209 billion last year–exceeding spending on traditional advertising with companies like for the first time ever.  If advertisers don’t believe in the integrity of online advertising platforms, then how can they justify spending more than half their marketing budget on those platforms?

It’s up to Facebook, Google, Twitter and the like to transform this threat into a more secure platform where sources can be fully-verified and extremist, racist, homophobic, and anti-semitic content will be caught and filtered out.

And it’s up to us as viewers to push back when we see inappropriate content. Unilever alone spent $9 billion on advertising last year. We need to let big advertisers know “we didn’t know where the ads would be placed” is no longer an acceptable answer. And that’s not fake news.

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