Adland Tells The EU Straight -- Leave Us Alone Or Your Economies Will Suffer

If money talks, then the advertising industry has just shouted at the EU to leave it alone. It has tried mentioning that it is actually of great economic benefit to the EU before, but the feeling one gets is that the industry feels it hasn't made a major impact and is usually on the defensive over its practices and repeated requests to rely more on self-policing.

To prove the point, last week's talk was all about how the email giants were going to be considered as telecoms providers that can't scan emails to build user profiles and cookie permissions were going to be made more explicit and informative, at the browser level. This follows from the EU's previous Cookie Law and more recently the GDPR, which calls for informed and freely given opt-ins from customers that brands want to target and keep up a dialogue with.

So today we have the final stand. One can almost hear the industry saying aloud that if the European Commission doesn't get the subtle argument we'll come at it with big guns. And that comes today courtesy of a World Federation of Advertisers report, carried out by Deloitte. The numbers are huge. Advertising delivers 643bn Euros worth of GDP to the EU, representing 4.6% of the bloc's combined GDP. Further, the researchers claim, every Euro put in to advertising delivers 7 Euros of economic benefit.

The claims don't stop there. The industry delivers 5.8 million jobs in the EU, or 2.6% of overall employment. One in seven of these jobs is direct, in the industry itself, and one in ten is in supporting the media. However, three in four jobs created by advertising are outside the media, the researchers claim, because of the wider economic benefit the advertising industry provides across the EU.

There are a bunch of social benefits such as supporting search, which enables people to find things online, funding sites that would otherwise have to charge for access and the researchers even claim that outdoor advertising improves the urban environment. 

The numbers are important -- of course they are -- but what we can draw out of the report being commissioned in the first place is that the ad industry feels threatened and under-appreciated by policymakers in the EU. it's a change of tactic -- a variation of tone. Instead of saying your laws will make it difficult for us to carry on as we are, as if any European Commissioners are too bothered about that, the argument is being shifted to the wider economy. Impinge on how we work, place more regulation on us and it won't just be our own people who suffer it will be society as a whole, which has become used to free Web sites and search facilities, and it will be the economy and the near six million jobs the industry claims to support.

For any opponent of EU moves, there are now statistics from Deloitte to tout around to defend an industry which, it believes, accounts for nearly one in twenty of every Euro credited to the members' GDP accounts. I suspect it will make very little difference because the European Commission is set on a course now for greater privacy protection and stricter opt-in rules but at least the figures are now there to tell to anyone lending an ear in Brussels.

It's not just a plea to be left alone now, but an economic argument.

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