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Reuters reports this morning that Unilever “is cutting ties with digital media ‘influencers’ that buy followers, saying it wants to help make advertising more transparent.”

The story goes on to say that Unilever believes that “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.”

Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing officer, puts it this way: “Trust comes on foot and leaves on horseback, and we could very quickly see the whole influencer space be undermined. There are lots of great influencers out there, but there are a few bad apples spoiling the barrel and the trouble is, everyone goes down once the trust is undermined.”
KC's View:
Good for Unilever. I’m a big fan of companies doing whatever they can to assure that their endorsements/reviews are authentic, and not just coordinated clutter. If that means getting rid of influencers who are pumping up their numbers illegitimately, that’s fine. If that means Amazon saying it won’t allow people to post reviews if they haven’t bought the product on Amazon, that’s fine, too.

I’m equally appalled when people in my business just give or sell their email lists to companies, showing utter disregard for their customers/readers. If you get an email from me, it ought to be an email from me … not an ad. And people in my business ought not sell space to consultants for them to write stories that are designed to appear as editorial. Ads ought to be labeled as ads, with full disclosure when something is advertising. I’m all in favor of making a living, but deceiving customers is never a good idea.