Legal challenges for advertising in 2017: what’s in store for agencies?

2017 is not even in full swing yet, but we can already expect big advocacy battles in Brussels on a couple of crucial files which will determine advertising in Europe for the following decade or so. The regulatory pressure has never been higher and advertising is up for many game-changers.

Let’s see which issues are on the table:

  1. Privacy and more privacy

The European Commission is about to propose a piece of legislation, replacing the ePrivacy Directive, which currently regulates how and when an entity accesses or stores information (such as cookies and other online identifiers) on one’s terminal equipment (mobile phones, laptops, tablets etc.) Why does it matter for the ad industry?

It is very likely that the Commission will propose very onerous rules giving consumers more control, but at the same time distorting 3rd party data processing. This would effectively mean that agencies and other 3rd parties relying on advertising service providers might be left out in the cold.

  1. Tick-tock, tick-tock… Time for GDPR!

2017 will be a year when agencies will have to undertake considerable effort in order to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). All businesses will have to fully comply with GDPR as of May 2018. As our friends from the World Federation of Advertisers already noted, the advertising industry will need to be more agile about all GDPR implications and to speed up their preparations (Brexit or no Brexit).

  1. Advertising of alcohol and foods high in sugar and salt

The discussions about the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (regulating broadcasting TV and some on-demand services) and how to regulate advertising of alcohol and foods are heating up! To cut the story short: there is increasing pressure from consumer groups and NGOs to significantly reduce/limit/stop (you name it!) children’s exposure to food advertising. Watch this space for more info, as the discussions unravel.

  1. Consumer protection is an all-encompassing issue

The Commission will carry on the assessment of consumer protection regulatory framework. This exercise is highly important because it will determine if and how notions of vulnerable consumers (i.e. children), misleading advertising, eco-claims etc. will change. When you can say in an advert that something is eco-friendly, and how to protect children from harmful content are only some of the issues to be resolved.

  1. Can we compete now?

The underlying common theme of all of the afore-mentioned challenges is how to get the regulation right so that it allows agencies to compete with other service providers of the advertising industry. In short, this means that we advocate for regulation which will not inadvertently favour some companies at the expense of others.

For more information on all of the above, you can contact me directly at: