Social networks, data ... advertising in the digital age

Home"TO THE ONE"Social networks, data ... advertising in the digital age
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"No more the power of the" small screen ", instead of direct communication on the Net, social networks and data analysis" (An advertisement for sales on mobile phone in July 2017). Danny GYS / REPORTERS-REA / Danny GYS / REPORTERS-REA

With the digital surge, the boundaries between ads, content and advertising transactions are blurring. Traditional advertising groups are kicking.

No posters in the streets, no inserts in the press, no TV spots. The luxury automotive brand Alpine "Put everything on social networks and competition" to get back on track. A true symbol at the moment when the television definitely falls from its pedestal, dethroned by the digital world's leading advertising media in 2017.

Gone are the omnipotence of the "small screen", place to direct communication on the Net, social networks and data analysis. The pub changes era, old balances flicker. The brands will never again address individuals in the manner of a Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, who created Publicis - ninety years ago - to promote, with a display and then spots, " Monsieur Levitan "or Andre, the" shoe-maker knowing how to put on shoes ".

The end of the golden age of TV is "A historic moment but it is the tree that hides the forestconfirms Maria Mercanti-Guérin, co-author, with Michèle Vincent, of Digital advertising (Dunod, 2016). The digitization of the great historical media is such that nothing, or almost nothing, makes it possible to distinguish the two worlds. " TV is blending into the Web and, by 2020, the switch to the screens of computers, especially mobile phones, will be total: the Internet will account for more than half of investments worldwide.

Five platforms dominate globally

In France, e-advertising already dominates, with 34.4% of the advertising market as a whole in 2017. Its revenues grew by 12% in one year, to 4.1 billion euros, and the gap with the other channels are growing, as shown by the barometer published on January 25 by the Régies Internet (SRI), PwC and the media agencies of Udecam (Union of consulting companies and media buying). The mobile pulls this growth.

These failovers are logical. "Advertiser investments go where consumers spend their time and shop"Vincent Letang, Magna's director of forecasting, comments. This entity of IPG Mediabrands is beginning to put back, like other firms, including PwC in France, its vision of the advertising world. A new order is needed. He opposes editorial media (video, audio and print media) to non-editorial media, including search engines and social networks. And the power has clearly changed sides: the first stagnate, while the second progress at a steady pace.

These are some American and Chinese tech titans who take the bets. Five platforms dominate globally: Facebook, Google, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. They capture about three quarters of digital investments, and just over 80% of their growth. By ignoring the Middle Kingdom, where their services are prohibited, Google and Facebook arrogate 85% of the same cake, and 90% of its progression. A duopoly that changed everything.

It threatens indeed a model almost as old as the advertisement: without media, no advertising, and without advertising, no media. In an attempt to regain market share, French press, radio and television groups have been joining forces since the summer of 2017. The idea? Share the data of their boards and propose bundles. Le Figaro and Le Monde got closer within Skyline. Gravity, launched by Les Echos-Le Parisien and Lagardère, is expanding month after month.

Amazon the spoiler

For Adam Smith, a prospector of GroupM (subsidiary of WPP), Amazon is however the only one capable of playing spoilsports. The strength of the US giant of online sales rests, like those of Google and Facebook, on a wealth of data on the tastes, habits, purchases but also the profile of Internet users.

Thanks to an increasingly wide range of articles, what was first a shopping destination became the first search engine for products in the United States. Professor at the New York School of Business Stern, Scott Galloway reports in his lectures that in 2016 nearly 55% of Americans started their queries on the site of Amazon. In France, this weight "Is still marginal but becomes visible", says one at PwC.

The road traveled since the arrival, in 1994, of the first web banner on the site of the American magazine Wired (It will take two more years in France) is impressive. By the early 2000s, these ads had lost all effectiveness. Mobile and social networks, the "non-human traffic" by clickers but also blockers advertising, adopted by 30% of French Internet users, have taken off. From May, the European regulation on the protection of personal data will try to frame a little this "Far West".

Will we one day disappear the cookie, which chases you from one site to another? The leaders of technology swear, in any case, only by "user identity". It allows to geolocate and target in real time individuals, paving the way for the customization of advertising on a large scale. The data used for marketing has become a most lucrative market. And a galaxy of companies thriving thanks to the automation of the purchase of advertising space, the "programmatic", which is gaining ground. "In some advertisers, ad managers tell me that they do not understand anything about all these modes of transaction", says Maria Mercanti-Guerin.

Defiance of advertisers

Brands, however, take things in hand. Slippages on YouTube channels for kids, like fake news on Facebook, made them aware that they could find themselves, unwittingly, contiguous to questionable or even illegal content. Despite the clean hands operations launched by the two platforms, the case leaves traces. Already strong among consumers, mistrust has become established among advertisers.

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Now, they demand accounts of how their money is used, as well as their visibility. In France, a "transparency" agreement was signed by all partners in December. "The chain of media buying is at best obscure, at worst fraudulent", accuses Marc Pritchard, marketing director of Procter & Gamble, justifying cuts in its digital advertising spend (reduced by $ 140 million ine quarter 2017).

The largest budgets on the planet, including the US multinational, have their own media buying platform. In France, this is also the case of Air France and Pernod-Ricard, for example. Direct contacts with Google and Facebook have multiplied. It remains to strengthen the skills in the data. In January, "Some consumer brands are starting to test anonymized customer data sharing"says Jean-Luc Chetrit, the director general of the Union of Advertisers (UDA).

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And since the Net makes it possible to converse directly with the individuals, all are trying to direct marketing, without going through the media. A recent study by the agency Brightcove shows that 8 in 10 French distributors want to develop their own home information site and "become media" themselves. Like Castorama, who shares inspiring ideas for the home on, or Monoprix, who talks about fashion, beauty, deco, food on his website Monopista, full of links to his online store.

The Vatican as Maserati

All these developments have opened the doors of advertising to large consulting firms. Their DNA service or consulting company makes them Swiss knives of the digital transformation of companies. A response to falling prices in their core business? A reinvention of marketing rather, answers Pascal Delorme, executive digital director France and Benelux of Accenture, the world leader in the IT department. For him, "It's no longer about building and nurturing brands by advertising alone. The customer experience is the new know-how to master ".

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The approach convinced the Vatican as Maserati. The contract signed in November with the luxury car manufacturer is emblematic in the eyes of Pierre Santamaria, associate director in charge of media optimization at Accenture Interactive in France: "We will speak on 100% of the levers, including the TV spot. We are not only the scratch that allowed us to challenge traditional agencies, we really bring something else, from creation to activation. "

The board's "big five" relied on state-of-the-art agency shopping to be at the forefront of digital agency networks; and this movement is accelerating among the most offensive. Result, in the World Top 10 of the American magazine Adage for 2017, Accenture Interactive leads, followed by IBM IX and Deloitte Digital. In front of Publicis.

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For the old lords of advertising, caught between this rise of consulting firms, the hegemony of the digital giants and the pressure of advertisers, the fight is tough. 2017 has been WPP's worst since 2008, according to Martin Sorrell, General Manager. In the third quarter, Publicis, Interpublic and Omnicom all recorded a decline in revenues.

The virtues of the omnichannel

The market is eagerly awaiting the publication of 2017 gross margins. This key indicator will help to judge whether worries are "Bigger and more persistent than many people think"as suggested in July 2017 by Exane analyst Charles Bedouelle. In the meantime, rumors circulate: Accenture could buy back WPP and Capgemini afford Publicis.

The most daring strategy of the sector, that of Publicis, which offered the American Sapient for 3 billion euros in 2014, will she eventually pay? Carrefour has just chosen the French group to accelerate its digital moult. After going to see Google, Facebook and the big council, "Brands come back to see us"said Raphael de Andréis, president of the Havas media center, at the "La Presse au futur" conference at the end of November 2017 in Paris.

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New faces of advertising are already emerging, as voice assistants enter homes and virtual reality connects to online sales. For Kleiner Perkins, it's a bottom-line movement: the boundaries between ads, content, products and transactions are blurring. Vincent Letang, at Magna, confirms: "There will be more and more competition between brand support and sales support, between digital advertising and e-commerce. "

Proven in shopping, the virtues of omnichannel, which combines the physical and digital, encourage brands to be cautious in marketing. Researcher in information sciences and director of Celsa-Paris-Sorbonne, Karine Berthelot-Guiet observes: "We see cohabiting digital advertising the most basic with sophisticated advertising content, while the big-screen movie is back, declined for the cinema, the small screen and the Web. " Advertisers will probably never completely disconnect the TV.

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