Apple, Google drive a rethink within the promoting trade: Maurice Levy

Maurice Levy, chairman of the French multinational advertising and PR company Publicis Groupe

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Apple and Google’s digital privacy measures are forcing the advertising industry to rethink how it works, Publicis Groupe’s Maurice Levy told CNBC.

The chairman of the world’s third largest advertising company said changes to Apple’s iOS smartphone software and Google’s Chrome web browser meant advertisers “had to rethink the whole way we work.”

“It’s not a clear win,” for traditional advertising agencies, Levy told CNBC’s Karen Tso on Monday.

“Privacy is extremely important,” he added. “And I think the fact that all of these platforms respect the privacy of consumers and their customers is extremely important. But it does lead to a review of the way we work.”

Apple started this year forcing app developers on its platforms to ask permission before they can collect unique identifiers that advertisers use to target mobile ads and measure their effectiveness.

The company had already banned the use of unauthorized third-party cookies – which many advertisers rely on to track internet users and serve them personalized ads – on its Safari browser.

Now Google is also planning to discard third-party cookies in Chrome and is in the process of looking for an alternative. Last week, the tech giant said it would give the UK competition authority a say in their proposal to replace cookies.

The move has sparked power struggles in the tech industry, with Facebook and Apple arguing over the latter’s privacy updates. Facebook is likely one of the companies hardest hit by Apple’s iOS changes, and it’s pushing into new business areas like online shopping to cushion the blow.

Levy said Publicis’ $ 4.4 billion acquisition of data company Epsilon is set to help protect the marketing giant from the aftermath of Apple and Google’s privacy changes.

Tech tax

Apple, Google, and other big tech companies are increasingly scrutinized by regulators around the world, from their sheer size to the taxes they pay.

This month the Group of the Seven (G-7) richest nations struck a historic deal to set a minimum global corporate tax of 15%. The move largely aims to tackle tax avoidance by digital giants like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, with a new tax system tied to the places where multinational companies actually do business, rather than their headquarters.

“I think the decision made is a very good one,” Levy told CNBC’s Karen Tso. “I think it’s normal for someone who works in a country to pay taxes there.”

Levy added, “15% is not an exaggeration, it is a minimum that I think is fair and I believe the G-20 will accept this type of solution.”

“With all of these platforms having valuation market capitalizations in excess of hundreds of billions – and sometimes trillions – it is important that they contribute to taxes in the country in which they operate.”

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