On Tuesday 7 September, the 15th Udecam meeting was held on the theme of recovery.
Among the most recurrent and important themes covered: the post-covid state of affairs, the recovery, the lags & weaknesses of the industry, the growing concentration of the sector around platforms and the need for cohesion to support France’s economy and provide solutions to the sector’s difficulties.
The post-pandemic recovery
Gautier Picquet, CEO of Publicis Media, COO of Publicis Groupe in France and President of Udecam started the conference by stating : “We need a strong, sustainable and more responsible recovery than ever before, recognising the fair value of each and every business, acknowledging all the challenges: economic, technological, ecological”. The economic recovery of the industry is therefore high on the agenda. A responsible recovery as we may see below.
And the latter has taken place, as pointed out by Maurice Lévy, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Publicis Groupe : “We haven’t quite wiped out the year 2020, but the recovery has been much stronger than expected”.
However, this recovery may prove to be relatively disappointing and unsatisfactory.
A slower than expected recovery and challenges for the industry
“The recovery is not as strong in our industries as it is elsewhere. The price index for our businesses between June 2020 and June 2021 is up 0.3% while the overall price index is up 1.5%. This means that we are becoming poorer and poorer, we are being paid less and less well, and it will be increasingly difficult to recruit new talents. We won’t be able to recruit strong, good people if we have nothing to pay them. We were united in the crisis, we will have to be united in growth” says Bertille Toledano, president of BETC France and Co-President of AACC.
A need for cohesion in a concentrated market
As explained by Roch-Olivier Maistre, President of the CSA, the concentration in the digital market is growing increasingly : “The health crisis has confirmed underlying trends, such as the power of digital players in the media landscape. In addition to their considerable investment capacity, in the first half of 2021 they (Facebook, Google and Amazon) accounted for no less than 70% of digital advertising revenues”.
From this observation, Gilles Pélisson, CEO of the TF1 Group Group, believes that there is a real call for partnerships and associations between traditional groups to create major international actors.
A call for continued efforts towards achieving a higher level of environmental and social responsibility within the sector
According to Fabrice Bonnifet, Director of Sustainable Development and Quality-Safety-Environment (QSE) for the Bouygues Group, and President of the College of Sustainable Development Directors (C3D) : “There has always been a correlation between CO2 and growth: more GDP means more CO2. The real challenge is to decouple CO2 emissions from growth. Today, all companies are committed to carbon neutrality while doing more and more business; we have never seen such a decoupling. There is a notable phenomenon: any human progress, when produced with less energy, is made more available to the whole population. Digital technology is becoming 20 or 30% more efficient every year. But unfortunately, what we gain in intensity, we lose in volume. Digital technology, with a 9% growth in CO2 emissions per year, now accounts for 4% of global emissions”.
However, as Pierre Calmard, President of Dentsu in France, points out, advertising agencies and actors in the sector are at the forefront of many initiatives with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of adtech : “Udecam has taken initiatives, such as common rules for measuring carbon footprints, which are used in each agency. We don’t need to wait for government regulation or injunctions. Advertising also serves to change mentalities”.
Jean-Luc Chetrit, Managing Director of the Union des marques, hopes that “the boards of directors, investors will start to set objectives that are much more linked to social and environmental responsibility in the long term”.
But his hopes are already a reality, since “there are already investment funds that no longer want to invest in a company if it does not have a central sustainability policy without its roadmap” states Pierre Louette, CEO of Les Echos-Le Parisien Group.
The Adtech industry considers these issues very seriously, and as Anne-Sophie Cruque, Director of Operations at Publicis Media France, stresses: “It’s not just a communication issue, it’s a transformational issue”.
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