The EA partnership, she said, stems from understanding that
"whether it's the young mom or the young male, that gaming is a
critical part of their lives," Ms. Tifford said.
Those pacts come in addition to alliances with Facebook,
Twitter, Google and Apple, which
last year included a customizable graphic novel for the iPad.
"A lot of these partners are coming to us so they can crack the
code on how to communicate with the rest of the advertising
community," Ms. Tifford said, "because they know we're incredibly
tough [and] incredibly demanding, but that also helps them shape
their offerings, so when they go to the next advertiser they're
equipped to answer their questions."
To the toughness point, Rob Master, VP-media for Americas and
Europe, pointed to Unilever's use of Nielsen's Online Campaign
Ratings to ensure it's getting the demographics it pays for in
digital media, and Adsafe to ensure its ads can be viewed and run
in quality environments.
"While there was some push-back early on from some publishers,"
Mr. Master said, "we have found it's very limited, because we think
these tools empower us and media companies."
The analytics pave the way for more digital deals, said Kathy
O'Brien, VP-marketing at Unilever. "This kind of rigor and data has
helped the internal Unilever higher-ups invest into the area,
because not only have we proven it to the partners, but we've
proven it to the company."
Unilever Chief Financial Officer Jean-Marc Huet joined the
Unilever team at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, Ms.
O'Brien said, "and left with a completely new understanding of
where and how digital works and why it's such an important
The rise in digital spending, she said, dovetails with growing
investment in e-commerce, including establishment of a
cross-functional digital and e-commerce team to work with Amazon, with which Unilever has been
working to launch digital brand stores.
More broadly, Unilever has recently changed its marketing
development process by prioritizing social and mobile in the
communications-planning stage of its conversation, Ms. Tifford
said. "It used to be we would say, "We're doing mobile,' and it was
a tactical add-on to the media buy. But when you build brands in
the digital age, you need to think about it before you're even
developing your campaign."