Unilever launches 'Trusted Publisher' list to vet digital players
Besides measurement, anti-fraud and safety goals, platforms graded on ad formats and data access
Unilever is launching a Trusted Publishers network that goes beyond the standard audience-verification, anti-fraud and brand-safety guidelines of most marketer "whitelists."
Unilever will also require platforms to reject pop-ups and other annoying, intrusive ad formats and safeguard consumer data, while also allowing enough data access so the marketer can track performance of its ads and avoid bombarding people with the same ones too often.
Unilever Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed is expected to make the announcement in an appearance at the World Federation of Advertisers Global Marketer Week in Lisbon on Thursday.
Unilever Trusted Publishers essentially puts some added teeth into the "Responsibility Framework" for digital players that Weed announced in February 2018, which included calls for more responsible brand content and a "One Measurement" system to allow measurement of audiences across digital and non-digital media. Weed joined Facebook, Google, Twitter and others in calling for a global cross-platform audience measurement system earlier this year.
In an interview Wednesday, Luis di Como, executive vice president-global media of Unilever, said the company doesn't have any pre-set goal for the number of digital platforms among its Trusted Publishers, which it will be assembling with help from its global media shops – WPP's Mindshare, Interpublic's Initiative and Omnicom's PHD.
"We're aiming to have as many publishers as possible, but they need to go through these selection criteria," DiComo says. Both the publishers and the criteria will be continuously re-assessed, he says, "because the space is moving so quickly."
While there are many criteria, two "red line" infractions that could keep publishers off the list or get them booted are around "fraud or brand safety," Di Como says. "If any of the publishers are trading inventory that's going to fund terrorists, or has any other really improper content, they will not pass the first test of brand safety."
The "digital access" aspect of Trusted Publisher criteria cuts two ways. First, Di Como says Unilever is complying with Europe's GDPR consumer-privacy regulations globally, and expects publishers to do likewise. "We're not asking for anything that would be in violation [of GDPR]," he says. "We're talking much more about marketing-campaign data that will allow us to optimize our investment."