Maurice Levy warns brands the Internet of Things could make them ‘irrelevant’

Mobile World Congress 2018: Publicis Groupe’s chair and former CEO says marketers must change the way they think if they want to take on Amazon and Google.

Maurice Levy, the chair and former CEO of Publicis Groupe, warns the Internet of Things could make brands “irrelevant” in future if they do not master new technology and find more intelligent and creative ways to market to consumers.

As digital giants such as Amazon and Google continue to roll out increasingly clever tech into the home, Levy says there is a risk consumers will “barricade” themselves behind the Internet of Things and that could cut advertisers out of the purchase journey altogether.

“If we go to the extreme – and we’re not there yet – the marketing and communication of tomorrow is computer to computer, where brands will not be marketing to the consumer but to the fridge or the computer,” Levy says.

“[It] will be interesting…because if you have a replenishment of your fridge which is automatic and Amazon or Walmart is sending you the repeat of what you have, it’s impossible for a new brand or product to enter into your fridge.”

The big challenge here, he says, is people will start telling their fridge to order the cheapest product without thinking about the brand.

“So you need to have some clever approach which will be based on artificial intelligence and you have to change the way you are thinking about marketing,” he explains.

“I believe there will be a lot of ways to continue to communicate with people and interact with them but clearly there will be some challenges.”

READ MORE: Mark Ritson – Voice search spells trouble for both brands and retailers

Brand safety

Levy was speaking at Mobile World Congress 2018 today (28 February), where he also revealed “several” Publicis clients pulled their ads from Facebook and Google last year in the wake of the brand safety scandal.

When asked whether pulling ads from platforms that cannot guarantee a safe environment is a stance Publicis is willing to take – alongside the likes of P&G and Unilever – Levy said: “Who is telling you we’re not doing this from time to time? It has happened but it’s quiet. We don’t need to have a headline in the press.”

While Levy says this has not continued into 2018 “yet”, Publicis, which is the world’s third-largest ad agency, has been having “very interesting” discussions with the platforms and has “put some solutions in place”.

“[Clients] are serious and it is extremely important both Facebook and Google can control the content and assure our clients they will not be in a difficult situation,” Levy says.

“It is extremely important for the people at large too. Facebook has an important role to play in communication and Google is becoming a partner of the daily life of everyone.”