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Size of the budget does not matter; size of the idea does: Keith Weed, Unilever

For Keith Weed, the Chief Marketing & Communications Officer of Unilever, the growth of technology does not take away from the basic fundamental approach of placing people at the centre of all initiatives. He outlines three elements that matter when the conversation is centered on people – the idea, the trust and the transformation.

Idea attracts an overwhelming response – a quality that no technology can mirror. The growth of programmatic cannot be disputed. Mr Weed reminded that 50 per cent of display ads, that form a large portion of online advertising, are already managed through programmatic trading. “In United Kingdom, 40 per cent teens are on SnapChat. Globally YouTube is exploding with videos views across markets. There are more than 414 million new handsets, leading to increased mobile traffic and brand are looking at mobile for personal and geo-targetting,” Mr Weed observed.

The future for Unilever is mobile. At the same time, attention and engagement is very important. “This is a challenge for creative minds. They need to grasp and retain attention in such a manner that audiences not only view the creative work but they also share and care about the work,” Mr Weed stated.

Replying to how this can be achieved, he said that a balance was required between creativity and effectiveness. “The size of the budget does not matter but the size of the idea does. We are an industry of ideas and nothing can replace that,” he said.

Mr Weed reiterated that trust was not just between brands and consumers but also within different players in the industry. The business is in chaos at present. “It is a complete mess that needs an overall re-ogranisation. We need to have trust to bring the business together. There is fragmentation all around today. When we are at our best, we can be brilliant,” commented Mr Weed.

Get what you pay for
Unilever has taken various initiatives to ensure that its online initiatives reap tangible and real results. One of the issues concerning the industry in context to online videos is viewability. Commenting on the subject, Mr Weed cautioned, “A Nielsen study shows that 40 per cent of digital activities are not meeting marketing objectives. We should get what we pay for and we need a solution for 100 per cent viewability, failing which the industry will lose faith in digital videos.”

As is known, at present, 29 per cent of online traffic is ‘bot’ traffic and not real human traffic. Industry players and associations are working towards seeking a solution but there is still some time to go before a solution is achieved.

As often as it may be quoted, the need to think differently is crucial at the moment. Unilever has set up Unilever Foundry that offers ‘pitch-to-pilot’ which essentially is the corporate funding promising start ups. The company does put a premium on how these companies can scale up their overall to impact marketing. In the state of chaos that the business is in, transformation has to be achieved by thinking differently and engaging different kind of people. Mr Weed’s advice to the creative fraternity is that while the time is right for new businesses to flourish, it is also the time for the industry’s key players to get together to bring some order in this chaos and create a brighter future.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.
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