Unilever cuts ties with influencers who buy followers: Reuters
According to CMO Keith Weed, as much as 40 per cent of influencers have been involved with buying followers at some point, sometimes accidentally
Consumer goods giant Unilever, known as the world's second-biggest advertiser, is cutting ties with digital media "influencers" that buy followers, saying it wants to help make advertising more transparent, say reports.
The practice of buying followers risks eroding trust and therefore damaging one of the fastest-growing areas of advertising - the billion-dollar-a-year market now known as "influencer marketing" - and Unilever says it wants it to stop.
Its chief marketing officer, Keith Weed, will pledge today that the maker of popular products such as Dove soap and Hellmann's mayonnaise will never buy followers or work with influencers who buy followers. It will also prioritise social media platforms that take action to stamp out fraud and increase transparency.
The announcement comes four months after Weed made waves by threatening 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.
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, suggest reports.
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.
It is hard to pinpoint how prevalent the practice of buying followers is, but Weed said he has heard estimates that as much as 40 percent of influencers have been involved at some point, sometimes accidentally.
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