Shockwaves were sent through the advertising supply chain this week when consumer goods giant Unilever threatened to pull adverts from the likes of Facebook and Google if the digital platforms did not take action over exploitative, extremist, racist and sexist content.
Keith Weed, the company’s chief marketing officer summed up Unilever’s position in strong terms when he said the firm could not continue to "prop up a digital supply chain… which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency”.
The threat is by no means insignificant. Unilever is a major advertiser and advertising is a large source of revenue for both Facebook and Google.
Some 61% of global online advertising revenue goes to these two companies, while their share of all ad revenue is 25%, according to the World Advertising Research Center.
Clearly the threat resonated with Facebook because a spokesperson quickly confirmed that it was taking steps to better define quality news sources and ensure it meets the expectations advertisers set for it.
Whatever happens next it is clear that firms are carefully considering the supply chains that exist behind around their adverts. Indeed, according to Keith Weed, the project to clean up Unilever’s digital supply chain is actually considered comparable to finding sustainable sources of agricultural materials.
But, it won’t be an easy task. Procurement Leader’s recent Media buying category report found the media buying supply chain is a complicated and distinctly murky place.
To try and change this, many category managers and their CPOs are looking to cut the number of suppliers they work with, work closer with the ones that remain and adopt new standards.
Procter & Gamble (P&G), the US consumer goods giant, is one organisation taking such action. It significantly cut its digital budget in 2017 and has promised to reduce the number of advertising agencies it works with by half by the 2018 year end.
The company also now expects all of its media agencies and suppliers to adopt Media Rating Council’s (MRC) viewability standards for digital advertisements. These standards state 50% of a display ad has to be in view on a screen for one second, or two for video ads, before it is charged.
IBM has gone further with its demands. In collaboration with its agency GroupM, the company has approached digital publishers with a demand that 100% of a video must in view for 50% of its duration with the sound on before it is charged for an impression.
Clearly, there is a move by firms to try and take back some control over their advertising spend and at the same time make the supply chain more transparent.
It’ll take time but to ensure the brand and spend is protected is a battle that procurement must win.
Procurement Leaders members can read the full Media buying report here
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