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Getting you up to speed with all the latest in the Catching up  

Ethics in face of mass consumerism

Today’s consumers are increasingly up to speed with ethical issues and keen to reduce the environmental impact of the products they buy. At the same time, public faith in the advertising and communication sectors is at an all-time low. In a recent France Inter podcast (available here in French), Gildas Bonnel, President of the AACC (the French association of communications agencies) discusses ‘eco-communication’ and the viability of an advertising approach that promotes sustainability and reduced consumption. 

With social and environmental responsibility a key issue for many consumers and up to 20% of the French public on the breadline, the ad/comm industry is facing an existential crisis. While some brands choose to continue ‘green hiding’ (i.e. sell products that claim to be environmentally friendly but without explicitly promoting them), many brands have woken up to the need to revolutionise their approach in favour of being eco-friendly, Made in France, and 100% traceable. 

But can brands really survive if they incite consumers to consume less? Gildas argues that they can.  

Brushing aside the deluge of corporate Greenwashing in recent years, companies have realised that in order to continue appealing to consumers and survive in this new eco-era, they need to be seen as intrinsically virtuous. By adopting an intelligent approach to brand storytelling that conveys an ethical vision and creates a bond with consumers, they can foster their trust and cement brand loyalty over the long term. Mass consumerism is about to be severely disrupted! 

France Inter blazing a trail! 

Radio France’s channel France Inter has confirmed its position as the country’s leading radio station for the third consecutive year and posted its all-time-best return (here in French). Taking full advantage of a web analytics approach to optimising the station’s performance, it confirmed its status as the airwaves’ leading radio channel, clocking up a total audience of nearly 6.5M listeners with an increase of over 100,000 on 2018 – this includes a record audience share of 12.5%. The station is particularly popular with under 35-year-olds and is also the most listened to radio on digital media with 1.3M people tuning in daily. In October 2019, it totalled more than 41 million on-demand listeners (eStat Podcasts + AOD ACPM), and more than 37 million videos viewed, two historical records

GDPR shortfalls – winning the personal data battle

Since it was introduced in May 2018, the GDPR has been widely praised as the world’s most innovative and progressive data protection framework. However a recent think tank conducted by the Montaigne Institute (an independent French public policy think tank) pointed to the range of issues with the regulation and the need to rapidly address them (article here in French). 

In the hundred-page study submitted to the European Union, the institute carried out a vast comparative analysis of the data protection regimes in force in Europe, the United States, India and China, and put forward a series of recommendations. The report has been published in the context of the recent Indian privacy bill draft and the upcoming CCPA and calls for urgent reinforcement of the GDPR. 

The institute’s senior advisor François Godement points out that although the GDPR focusses heavily on consent and information, it is far less clear on the uses of data and lacking any guidance on the protection of individuals in relation to the State. While India is looking for a middle path between Europe and China, the researcher calls on Europe to look to the United States where personal data protection is mainly a matter of consumer law, which allows consumers to sue companies for misuse of data. 

The think tank also calls for GDPR safeguards to be brought in such as limiting the resale and reuse of data (with reference to the long-awaited e-Privacy directive), setting up a framework for user identification via AI, and unifying the varied approaches of EU Member States. It concludes that in addition to European fines, there should be a wider possibility for citizens to take legal action, including group actions, on the liability of companies that process data. 

Bouygues TV gives Google a lifeline in Europe

In a move that has sent shockwaves through the European digital TV market, Bouygues Telecom has recently joined forces with Google to set up a segmented TV advertising offering (here in French). This will allow the range of channels whose content is viewed via Bouygues digital TV boxes (Bboxes) to adapt the content they broadcast to the profile of the people who consume it. 

Bboxes are present in 50% of French households, and the move could generate €200M+ in revenue over the next 5 years. Using Google tech to act as a gateway between Bouygues Telecom and the channel ad-server, the Bbox channels will collect all the necessary targeting information – including socio-demographic, location, and browsing behaviour – in an offer set to roll out at the start of 2021.  

Bouygues’ decision has raised serious concerns in the French media who are worried out their ability to preserve their independence and work with neutral and independent trusted third parties. Competitor Smart’s CEO Arnaud Créput stated that “Google’s entry into the French television market poses a major risk to the entire European ecosystem”. He added that “another [lost deal] would have buried Google’s ambitions in France. But this decision completely rewrites the cards”.  

The US tech giant publicly stated its ambition to step into the European digital TV market in 2019 –  it has just made a giant leap. 

No means no… French companies under the CNIL microscope

A complaint has been made to the French CNIL against CDiscount, Allociné and Vanityfair for carrying out cookie tracking despite users clearly refusing consent on their website cookie banners. 

In a report on, the CDiscount online sales site, Allociné movie guide and Vanity Fair fashion magazine allowed hundreds of advertising targeting companies to track their users’ online activity, despite consent refusal. The report cites Facebook and targeting companies such as AppNexus and PubMatic as being recipients of these cookies who placed tracking cookies after users had clearly objected to any tracking. 

By using the Cookie Glasses extension, data subjects were able to see that their personal information had been made available to a large number of “sellers” and that the “Accept cookies” tool had been completely ignored during processing. 

The groups concerned are theoretically liable to a maximum fine of 4% of their worldwide annual turnover, in proportion to the number of persons affected in France. 

Complying with the CCPA

In effect from January 1st, 2020, the CCPA has come under increasing scrutiny for its broad definition of how the “sale” of data applies to digital advertising. Although digital advertisers use a variety of types of information that may be personal and is exchanged with other companies to fulfil their purpose or services, it is unclear to what extent they will comply with the CCPA. 

Under the standard interpretation of the law, a sale is not simply the exchange of California residents’ personal information for money, but for any business value. A publisher passing a device ID to an ad tech firm to fill a programmatic ad impression or an advertiser sharing a list of IP addresses to an agency for targeted advertising could be considered as a sale of data under the law. Or the opposite could be the case!

However, the playing field is unclear for agencies that take people’s information collected by clients and create models for planning and buying purposes. Actors in the ad tech industry are asking whether modelling data and extracting segments for targeting equates to adding value, or just analysing the data. There is also the question of whether the information passed along the programmatic supply chain constitutes a sale under the CCPA. Watch this space to see how the regulation takes hold in 2020. 

Cooking up an e-grocery storm

The e-grocery industry has been stifled over the years by impossible-to-navigate and zero added value UX – meaning that the market is one of the only e-commerce segments where desktop still rules. This could be about to change with the new French e-grocery mobile app Jow.  

The app creates a customised menu considering user tastes, budget, kitchen appliances, whether or not they have children, and checks the availability of the ingredients in the local supermarket. It then automatically fills their cart with all the ingredients they need to cook the meals. Users can also purchase with a single click, and the app synchronises with the chosen supermarket delivery or pickup service.  

The app has raised considerable funding from affiliate supermarkets that want to use the service to acquire younger, mobile-first customers. As well as the 50x improvement on the e-grocery funnel, the UX is seamless and allows users to do their weekly shop in as little as a minute while commuting to or from work. Oh, and it also helps to choose the exact quantities needed to avoid waste and be more eco-friendly… 

See you next time on the Internets! 

Credits:  Nick [email protected] 

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