Alban Peltier, CEO and co-founder of AntVoice
Alban Peltier has been evolving in digital for 20 years, and has multiplied experiences in startups (iBazar, Sporever), large groups (MSN), or as a business angel (Geolid, MHD) and entrepreneur (Looneo). He is now CEO and co-founder of the AntVoice agency as well as President of the Techno College of the CPA (Collective for Digital Marketing players).
How is the digital advertising market doing in France and around the world?
The digital advertising market is a sector that is doing very well with growth of 24% in 2021 to 7.7 billion euros in France. Digital accounts for almost half of all advertising investments, all media combined. We find the same dynamic in the world, with a growth of 20% in 2021 and more than 450 billion dollars, or 60% of all advertising investments. France, with 50%, therefore has strong growth potential!
What trends have you noticed regarding advertisers’ digital investments?
There are several strong trends currently on the market which show that digital is in perpetual evolution. With the covid crisis and its impact on business sales, brands are trying to regain their pre-covid growth rate. As a result, there is still a very strong focus on performance campaigns to generate sales or leads. At the same time, to further anchor their values and differentiate themselves, brands are betting on video (lever with the most significant growth in 2021) and new experiences.
In 2021, it was absolutely necessary to launch a campaign on TikTok. In 2022, it is rather the Web3 and the metaverses that are at the forefront. We are more about posture than real impact at this stage.
Basically, there is a change that is taking place with the rise of responsible marketing. This is undoubtedly the trend that will structure the advertising market the most in the coming years. We are only at the beginning, of course, but the few pioneering brands in this area will soon be joined by most brands, as consumer pressure is growing.
For me, the 4 pillars of responsible marketing are:
- The social and societal impact: no advertisements on platforms spreading fake news, hate speech, not respecting laws or tax requirements, etc.
- The environmental impact: measuring the carbon footprint of campaigns, highlighting second-hand offers, etc.
- Respect for the Internet user: respect for their personal data, their interest or not for the brand, control of advertising pressure, etc.
- Respect for the brands themselves by the partners of the brands managing the campaigns (agencies, adtech, networks, platforms, etc.): transparency on campaign management by partners, selection of distribution media, reliability of statistics, etc.
When you see this list, it is easy to realize that it does not really describe how American platforms manage advertising.
The majority of investments are made on the American platforms of Google, Facebook and Amazon. What risks does this pose for advertisers? Is there a dependency on these platforms?
Clearly the GAMAs (Google, Amazon, Meta and Apple which is coming back into the game) have created a total imbalance. On the one hand, these 4 players, with Google and Meta in the lead, hold 50% of the global advertising market, all media combined, and 70 to 80% of digital, and on the other, thousands of companies (advertising agencies, adtech, etc.) share the rest. When so few players master a market as much, we can clearly evoke a duopoly (Google and Meta) or an oligopoly (the GAMAs). It is not tenable.
Especially since for several months, the brands with which we have exchanged have been sending us several strong signals:
- A sharp increase in CPCs in search: 30 to 40% in certain sectors since last school year. Note that Google’s profit doubled in 2021 (to $76 billion). From there to see a cause and effect link between increase in CPC and increase in profit.
- A sharp drop in social performance: with Apple’s new provisions (App Tracking Transparency) requiring explicit consent to be able to perform tracking. As a large part of the use of Facebook is made on iPhone, the platform is strongly affected by this disappearance of third-party tracking.
- A continuous decline in transparency: with new devices like Google Performance Max, transparency on what is actually done in terms of purchase is increasingly moderate. A brand no longer really knows where it is, on which sites, with which formats, which strategies, which repetition, etc. This is a real problem for brand safety in particular!
And last point, citizen consumers are increasingly attentive to the behavior of brands and broadcasters with regard to the management of their personal data and the quality of the advertising experience and, more generally, to a responsible approach. And it is clear that the American platforms are not necessarily at the forefront of these fights. Just remember the words of Mark Zuckerberg who implied that Meta could withdraw from Europe if the GDPR were imposed on it or the recent announcements from the CNIL about Google Analytics…
Brands are therefore asking more and more questions about the weight and sustainability of their investments on these platforms. Moreover, more and more brands are deciding to withdraw from social networks, for example, such as Patagonia and Lush. And that’s just the beginning !
What alternatives are available to advertisers to reduce their current dependence on tech giant platforms?
If a brand wants to lower its investments in GFAs, the only question then is: what are the alternatives? It is in this logic that we presented a few days ago our mapping of partners who can support brands in investments instead of GAFA: it is the French digital advertising team! This mapping is intended to help a brand find the right partner according to its issues and needs, in order to achieve a better balance and a more responsible approach.
What advice would you give advertisers to diversify their investments effectively?
In the mapping above, we have listed a hundred French players, lever by lever, management of large groups or young startups. It is not the possibilities that are undeniably lacking! I think the key factors for change are boldness and courage. The GAFAs have been able to create a real addiction, through the advertising solutions provided but also those of tracking like Google Analytics which allows Google to give its own results and those of its competitors. Needless to say, this brings some benefit, and Google’s performance is rarely the worst.
For a marketing department, collaborating with the GAFAs is simpler (one player for search, one for social, one for retail media; all the strategies are proposed, from top of mind to retargeting, etc.) and more rewarding internally. What top management would say it’s not good to work with Google and Facebook? But in fact Google and Facebook are not so good. It’s H&M and Zara in fashion. Fashion that is not very responsible, not very respectful and global.
What is good are the small local and responsible brands, the DNVBs.
Our challenge is to ensure that a marketing manager is proud to tell his CEO that he works with a local and responsible startup rather than a GAFA. We will get there because the pressure on CSR will push marketing departments out of their comfort zone and their addiction to GAFA. They won’t have a choice. It is up to us, responsible and efficient advertising players, to help them find a better balance. Clearly we have a real active role to play in this change.
In your opinion, what are the winning strategies in terms of advertising in 2022?
We are pleased to collaborate at AntVoice with dozens of brands from all sectors: Maisons du Monde, Orange Bank, Renault, Damart, Tryba, Jules, etc. So that gives us a good idea of what works.
My recommendation for a marketing department would really be to create a real scenario in its speech: identify an interesting target then activate it by evoking the brand and its values in video, then by recommending personalized selections of products via banners then by offering a promotion via a native format for example. This allows you to truly tell a complete story, while controlling the advertising experience offered.
On this last point, it is imperative that brands pay extreme attention to advertising pressure. When I am retouched dozens of times after a visit to a site, I wonder how a brand can still accept such practices from a few service providers, and Google in the lead.
But it is still necessary that the marketing department be aware, hence the impetuous need for transparency.
There are more and more restrictions on targeting: end of cookies, modification of Google or Facebook targeting. What is your view on this change? How can advertisers adapt?
In recent years, there has been an acceleration of constraints, technical or legal, on marketing departments. Clearly, managing an advertising campaign is becoming more and more complex. This is surely a good thing for Internet users (and even when we live the catastrophic experience of consent banners that we see 30 times a day …), but it is a real challenge for marketing departments which often have limited resources.
That’s why I think that as digital advertising professionals, it’s our role to help advertisers understand all the issues and challenges and to support them in their choices. The AntVoice mapping of the French adtech team was built with this in mind. We are also creating white papers to explain these changes well, such as the one we made on the end of third-party cookies.
More generally, I also think that the market must be structured around responsible players offering all advertising solutions, as the GAFA can do. As I mentioned earlier, there are nearly 100 French companies in digital advertising. I think it’s way too much and it doesn’t help advertisers get rid of their GAFA addiction. I am therefore clearly campaigning for mergers to offer global solutions to brands. It is up to us, digital advertising players, to move forward in this direction to offer solid solutions to brands that can manage all these future challenges!