Tech

Apple and Google are forcing a rethink in advertising, ad guru Maurice Levy says

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Key Points
  • Changes to Apple and Google’s web tracking tools mean advertisers are having to “revisit the whole way we are working,” Publicis Chairman Maurice Levy said.
  • Apple has forced app developers to ask permission to collect unique identifiers to target mobile ads, while Google plans to ditch third-party cookies on Chrome.
  • Levy welcomed plans for a global minimum corporate tax of 15%, and said digital giants should pay their fair share in the countries in which they operate.

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Maurice Levy, chair of French multinational advertising and public relations company Publicis Groupe
Dominique Charriau | Getty Images

Digital privacy moves from Apple and Google are forcing the advertising industry to reconsider the way it works, Publicis Groupe's Maurice Levy told CNBC.

The chairman of the world's third-biggest advertising company said changes to Apple's iOS smartphone software and Google's Chrome web browser meant advertisers were having to "revisit the whole way we are working."

"It's not a clear win" for traditional ad agencies, Levy told CNBC's Karen Tso Monday.

"Privacy is extremely important," he added. "And I think the fact that all those platforms are taking care of the privacy of the consumers and their customers is something which is extraordinarily important. But this is leading to a revisit of the way we are working."

Apple this year started forcing app developers on its platforms to ask permission before they can collect unique identifiers used by advertisers to target mobile ads and measure how effective they are.

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

Now, Google also plans to ditch third-party cookies on Chrome, and is in the process of searching for an alternative. Last week, the tech giant said it would give Britain's competition regulator a say in its proposal to replace cookies.

The move has led to infighting in the tech industry, with Facebook and Apple sparring over the latter's privacy updates. Facebook is likely to be one of the companies most affected by Apple's iOS changes, and has been pushing into new business lines like online shopping in an effort to cushion the blow.

Levy said Publicis' $4.4 billion acquisition of data company Epsilon should help to shield the marketing giant from the fallout of Apple and Google's privacy changes.

Tech tax

Apple, Google and other large tech firms are facing growing scrutiny from regulators around the world over everything from their sheer size to how much tax they pay.

This month, the Group of Seven (G-7) richest nations agreed a historic deal to set a global minimum corporation tax of 15%. The move is aimed in large part at tackling tax avoidance from digital giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, with a new tax system linked to the places where multinationals are actually doing business rather than where they are headquartered.

"I think that the decision which has been made is a very good one," Levy told CNBC's Karen Tso. "I believe that it's normal that somebody who is working in a country pay the taxes in that country."

Levy added: "15% is not excessive it's a minimum I consider that this is fair and I believe that the G-20 will accept that kind of solution."

"As all of those platforms have valuation market cap which are above hundreds of billion — and sometimes trillion — it is important that they contribute to the taxes in the country where they operate."