The World Federation of Advertisers is warning that a new European Union privacy directive poses a significant threat to online advertising, because of the deluge of opt-in requests it will spark. The concern is that consumers will refuse, in large numbers, to opt in to receive ads.
As a consequence, free access to news, entertainment, social media, and even email could be at risk, according to the WFA's CEO, Stephan Loerke.
To counter the EU legislation, the WFA commissioned research that it claims provides proof of the important economic and social contribution that advertising makes across the continent.
Mr. Loerke said in a statement, "Policy makers should be mindful that ad restrictions have important economic, social, and cultural consequences … Advertising matters for employment, innovation, culture and entertainment, and supports media plurality, which is fundamental to democratic freedoms. The benefits are pervasive and run through the fabric of society."
When the EU's General Data Protection Regulation comes into force in May 2018, all targeting and tracking companies will need to get user consent. Everything that invisibly follows a user across the internet will have to pop up and make itself known in order to seek express permission from individuals, making life a lot tougher for the whole advertising ecosystem.
The WFA is calling for a moratorium on any further restrictions on advertising, to ensure that the overall impact of any new rules is fully assessed.
Deloitte's "Value of Advertising" report makes the case that, without advertising, funding for all sorts of media would be reduced. It also maintains that advertising and related services contribute six million jobs to the EU – 2.6% of all employment – and account for 4.6% of total GDP.
The report also argues that advertising drives innovation because it supports competitiveness, provides consumers with information on products and services, and helps to increase choice.
In addition to the WFA, the report was funded by the Internet Advertising Bureau, the European Broadcasting Union, and the U.K.'s Advertising Association.