Cannes 2016: Havas’s Dominique Delport On Managing The Media Madness

DDThat the media and advertising landscape is in flux isn’t news to any holding company exec. The question is how best to wrangle it – or at least position yourself so you and your clients can take advantage in the future.

Dominique Delport, global managing director of French holding company Havas Media Group, has a unique vantage. Aside from his duties at Havas, he also is president of Vivendi Content, tasked with discovering new talent and platforms for the French multinational mass media conglomerate (say that 10 times real fast). And he also serves on Vivendi’s supervisory board.

Although Delport wouldn’t comment on Vivendi’s plans specifically, he did meet up with AdExchanger to discuss his thoughts on America’s Big Two digital ad platforms, a handful of upstarts, the ANA’s report on agency rebates and a possible Brexit from the EU.

AdExchanger: Facebook and Google are obviously dominant in advertising. Do other platforms have a chance?

DOMINIQUE DELPORT: Mobile is the key for lots of new services and content, and 85% of mobile ad revenue is split between Google and Facebook.

But you’ve got Apple and Amazon, whose first business is not advertising but selling stuff –  devices, products, and apps. AOL and Verizon have several million people on their real estate every month, and they’re taking business from the Google and Facebook ecosystem.

You can’t just have just an insular strategy. Eighty percent of the BuzzFeed audience is beyond You need to adapt to an ecosystem that goes beyond the website and app. There’s a redefinition of what is media. And it’s super important to understand there’s that mix of content and context and realize you can watch CNN on Facebook Live.

And what is the media? Facebook? CNN? Or a combination of both?

Somebody I spoke with mentioned that Snapchat is trying to build Comcast for young people.

I think if you ask Evan, he’ll say he wants to build a great experience. That generation of entrepreneurs doesn’t want to build towers or empires but great experiences for people, then grow, scale and become incredibly powerful and global. The world is global, and one successful product can rule the world in less than one year.

But in their mindset, it’s a great experience.

Then you bring brands like Snapchat Discover, where you bring publishers and great context. In many ways, our industry today is a combination of two factors: user experience and IP. This is the formula for success.

How does that combination affect advertising?

When you involve the VICE content and the Refinery29 content [on Snapchat], they have to adapt to the platform, turn it into three-second vertical content that can use Snapchat filters and features, so the experience will be different.

The [Snapchat] generation hates pre-roll, hates waiting 15 seconds to understand what something is about. You need to find a way not to have them skip you, so you need to speak the language, which is much more visual.

Hence that advertising partnership Havas announced with VICE, in which you can use tech from Mirriad to digitally insert products into VICELAND TV shows?  

We talk about ad blocking, which is a real problem, and ad skipping, which is more of a TV problem.

With VICE and [its TV channel] VICELAND, we want to find a way to change product placement perception, make it more relevant emotionally, make it scalable thanks to technology and try to redesign the boundary between advertising moments and content moments.

VICE wants to reboot TV. Technology enables us to have some brand integration that is relevant and integrated pixel-by-pixel post-shooting. It’s a robust technology.

Is that scalable?

Yes. That’s the main beauty of the technology, and that’s why we’re keen to push it. It’s highly scalable. You can take the oldie-but-goodie TV series like “Friends” and “Sex in the City” and integrate a new product within the series to make it even more relevant to current consumers and users all over the world.

The power of technology is digital integration, and digital broadcasting is becoming the norm, so you can integrate these in real time.

The next iteration is programmatic, where you identify content and spots that you want to be replaced by product or images. So a glass can become a bottle or a phone. Obviously, you need to clear the rights, and there’s a question of process and content ownership and IP.

But we need to take ad blocking and ad skipping seriously.

Will that type of deployment replace spots and pre-rolls?

No, because the future of advertising is like the future of media. One won’t ever replace another. It’s an addition, a mix of formats. When you saturate the space [with a format], it’s not sustainable. You can’t deteriorate the user experience so you can hammer propaganda. Sometimes, the loading of the ad will make you waste 30 seconds to access your content. That’s insane.

What has been the fallout since the ANA report on rebates? European agencies were lambasted.

We haven’t gotten any phone calls.

Let’s be positive. It’s a great way for us to open up the conversation with clients. But it’s an ongoing conversation. Clients are more sophisticated than ever, and it’s absolutely legitimate for them to have more visibility into what’s going on. If you look at the money the ad-tech companies spend here at Cannes, there is obviously an issue with the new value chain in ads.

You don’t know what you buy or sell in the marketplace, and even private marketplaces can have 15 to 20% bad inventory. Our duty is to try to fix that. This is why we constantly invest in technology, put millions on the table. If you look at our trading desk Affiperf, the level of bots is 3 to 5%, which is too high but much lower than the rest of the industry.

If we learn on Friday that the UK has opted out of the EU, how will that affect your business?

For [Havas’ business], there’s no impact, but we know some clients will move their headquarters to continental Europe. And some cities like Paris and Brussels will benefit from that. And Amsterdam also, for tax reasons.

But [continental Europe and the UK] are emotionally connected. It’d be a shame for both if there’s a feeling that the two lands are moving away from each other, especially when everything is more mixed than ever. It’s a very worrying element for the young British citizens. More than 70% of England wants to remain. All the young adults want to remain. They’re a borderless generation.

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