Keith Weed floats the idea of ad-free and ad supported internet

Chaired by Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, industry leaders like Carolyn Everson, VP Marketing Solutions, Facebook , Keith Weed, CMO, Unilever, Evgeny Morozov, Journalist, Independent and Kasha Cacy-Chief Executive, USA (UM) debated whether tech giants support open societies or are they a threat to them?

by exchange4media Staff
Published - Jun 21, 2018 8:45 AM Updated: Jun 21, 2018 8:45 AM

On day 3 of Cannes Lions 2018, one of the most important and much-awaited sessions was around the power of big tech platforms. Industry leaders such as, Carolyn Everson, VP Marketing Solutions, Facebook , Keith Weed, CMO, Unilever, Evgeny Morozov, Journalist, Independent and Kasha Cacy-Chief Executive, USA (UM) debated whether tech giants support open societies or are they a threat to them? Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, chaired the session.

Minton opened the session by sharing some striking statistics. “This year digital ad spends will take over TV. Amongst 40% on online spends, 6 out of 10 of those dollars are spent on Google, Facebook which is an extraordinary shift. Is it an opportunity, threat or bit of a both?” she quizzed.

A candid Everson said, “We (Facebook) didn’t do enough to protect people and we apologize. Mark has made a very important decision after Cambridge Analytica. We’re taking many actions around elections integrity, fake news, privacy and giving brands a safe environment to advertise,” she said.

Everson continued, “We’re proud of being a business supported by advertising, and consumers need to control experience. We deeply believe that people have to control the data.” She shared how Facebook rolled out GDPR globally which gave the power for consumers to decide.

Weed and Everson both acknowledged that privacy and relevant ads are not at odds but consumers need to be given control. “I believe that we will get the situation of a two-tier internet. One that is ad-supported, the other which is paid and ad-free,” said Weed. Morozov had a different take, “Why should consumers have to pay? These platforms (like Google and Facebook) are ones that gain data from consumer usage,” he said.

On the spread of fake news on big data platform which has been a big concern, Kasha Cacy-Chief Executive, USA (UM) opined that the society as a whole needs to take responsibility. “The speed at which fake news can spread over digital is much greater than anything else. However, as a society, doing things like fact-checking before telling other people is of essence,” said Cacy.

On whether the big tech platforms are an opportunity or threat, Weed said, “ As an industry, we got immense challenge and opportunity here. The industry has changed more in the last five year than the last 25 years. Mobile has changed everything. We as consumers have changed our behaviour. If the video doesn’t load, we swipe past it. This is a huge challenge because we now need to give a friction-less experience as well as content which is on the go.

While Weed acknowledged that there is nothing more irritating than lousy advertising and we need to get rid of it, he said that brands need to break through the clutter-challenge. “The solution is creating content that people want to spend time with,” he suggested.

Everson said that the big tech platform provide an opportunity and facilitate communication between the brand and consumer. “ With technology, the opportunity for consumers to sing back to the brands is of essence,” she says. Morozov opined that the combination of data and network effect of the platform means that creativity can flourish but is constrained by what will be allowed by the big tech platforms.

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