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Online Protections Haven’t Hurt Digital Ad Spend in France

Despite increased privacy and consumer protection standards, online ad spending in France still growing rapidly

Earlier this week, we looked at the effect of the European Union (EU) Data Protection Directive as the UK enacts regulations to control the data that websites can collect on their users via cookies. France, the third-largest online ad market in the EU, updated similar legislation in August 2011, requiring web publishers to inform users regarding the use and collection of information via cookies.

Preliminary data suggests those changes don’t seem to have stifled the online ad spending market. A March 2012 report from Institut de Recherches et d'Etudes Publicitaires (IREP) and France Pub estimated online ad spending surged ahead 10.6% in 2011 for a total of €1.67 billion ($2.32 billion), a growth rate significantly higher than the total marketing and ad spending rate of 1.9%.

Cookie and privacy regulation did nothing to stem online ad spending in 2011, and 2012 looks to be no different. eMarketer, in our soon-to-be-released worldwide ad spending forecast, expects online ad spend in France to increase 12% in 2012, for a total of $3.19 billion on the year.

Consent is the key word when it comes to cookie regulation in France. According to consumer protection agency Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL), France’s August 2011 law requires most websites to prompt users when they are either recording or inserting data on users’ machines via cookies, and must provide an option to reject them. Should a user not reject their use, consent is assumed. A firm can be fined up to €300,000 ($416,666) by CNIL if it is found in noncompliance with the law.

Some websites and publishers hope that the “opt-in by not opting out” approach to consent may in fact boost users’ opinions of websites that they frequent. In turn, the increased trust, and the transparency of recorded consent to track via cookies, may enable these websites to charge a premium for ads, pushing up rates and overall ad spend in France.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Facebook Users Interact with Brand Content Over Ads” and “FreshDirect’s Advice: Know Your Customer Segments’ Needs.”

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