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All the news you Cannes handle: Privacy, DEI, and sustainability top the festival’s agenda

The news: After two years of being absent from many marketers’ calendars, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has returned to the south of France—as have we. Here are six of the highlights to date.

Misinformation mitigation: The Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), which launched with 16 founding partner firms at Cannes three years ago, celebrated its anniversary by announcing new principles and standards and focusing on the metaverse.

  • The body is issuing anti-misinformation guidelines (spurred by the pandemic and war in Ukraine), updated standards regarding ad placements, and the first measures that should be followed to make the metaverse a brand-safe environment for advertisers.

Serious matters: For the first time, the program included five Global Growth Councils for Progress to drive the agenda on key topics critical to the world: sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), data and technology, brand creativity and effectiveness, and talent.

Searching for inclusivity: Google announced it has updated its inclusive marketing playbook—developed with disability inclusion specialists—and will be sharing those insights at Cannes.

  • As the Festival's first official accessibility partner, Google is working to ensure that Cannes fosters full participation by all, including employing Live Transcribe for real-time captioning, supplying American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, and ensuring the company’s popup event headquarters is easy to access.

Reducing bias: WPP, Delta Air Lines, IAB, and Mindshare are among the companies that have teamed up with IBM to tackle prejudice in digital marketing through the latter’s Advertising Toolkit for AI Fairness 360, an open-source solution powered by Watson. The toolkit uses 75 “fairness” measures and 13 algorithms to identify bias in discrete data sets during media targeting.

Snap-plause for GDPR: During his address, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said social media platforms have a responsibility to secure user data.

  • Spiegel noted that, rather than gathering personal information from customers, a safer approach focuses on aggregated data—which he predicts will be a key component of defending consumer privacy in the future.
  • He praised Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which tries to protect an individual's personal data collected by organizations.

Outlining ambitions: Hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses advertise on TikTok, according to Blake Chandlee, TikTok's head of global business solutions, who spoke in Cannes on Monday—but he said the short-form video app is “looking for millions.”

  • Chandlee explained that TikTok is prioritizing development of ad packages to onboard new advertisers, some of whom could find the platform somewhat daunting.
  • He acknowledged that brand safety is a key focal point—and without making that a major priority, it’s “impossible for [advertisers] to scale investment with us.”

The big takeaway: A few themes have stood out thus far. Despite concerns over inflation and a potential recession, advertisers still very much care about topics such as DEI, inclusivity, and sustainability.

  • There’s also a strong interest in marrying consumers’ privacy concerns with advertisers’ need to find relevant audiences to reach—and how contextual targeting needs to mature to keep attracting ad dollars.