The Knights of the Round Table (of influencer marketing)

What is happening in France for influencers at the moment? What (ethical) sauce are influencers going to be eaten with?

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  • The purpose of this series of posts is to share the exchanges that are currently taking place at the French Ministry of Finance and Economy (aka Bercy) for a more ethical and responsible influencer marketing, and to share some ideas
  • About 50 players participate almost every week in round tables, but not all professions and some key actors are represented
  • Beyond the (many) self-regulation initiatives already seen on the French market (ARPP, ethical charters, etc.), better regulation of the – admittedly limited – excesses is necessary.
  • The discussions are very open, and completed by a public consultation: creation of an influencer status, better repression, need (or not) for a specific law for influencers in view of the existing legal framework, role of social networks, etc.
  • The process started on Dec 9th 2022 with a first roundtable, and things seems to be going fast

Why this series of posts?

Since 9 December 2022, Mr Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty, has been organizing meetings at Bercy with his team, bringing together various players involved in influencer marketing. The announced objective is to regulate the sector in the face of its excesses, with a view to protecting consumers. The advent of Responsible Influence?

I have the pleasure of participating as CEO of Kolsquare, the #1 influencer marketing software solution in Europe (over 400 brands and agencies), and also the first Mission Driven Company in the sector (aka Benefit Company).

The exchanges are very varied but also very intense, in line with the crucial stakes for our young – but no less important – industry (+150,000 influencers in France, thousands of jobs, €15 billion worldwide according to Statista)

Many of you want to know what is being said at these round tables, what will come out of them, and for my part I would like to share several thoughts with you. Hence the idea of this series of posts (also available in French here).

It is not my intention to transcribe all the exchanges in detail, but rather the main points that were discussed and the ideas that emerged. In particular, to talk about Responsible Influence.

And that’s good, because at Kolsquare we feel particularly concerned.

Our mission at Kolsquare is to enable all ideas, individuals and organisations to access the power of Influencer Marketing, to positively impact the world. We want to use all the resources at our disposal – our technology, our voice – to inspire and implement solutions to social, societal and environmental issues.

Starting with the issues related to influencer marketing and social networks (more details in our Culture Book here).

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The genesis of the round tables

« Influ-thief » controversy (initiated by the musician Booba), scams, fake influencers, conviction of influencers, online harassment, tax evasion in Dubai, draft laws, public positions taken by the Minister Bruno Le Maire in the media… Influencer marketing has been under the spotlight for many months in France.

Source : Twitter Post from Bruno Le Maire, April 12th 2021

The team of the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty seemed to be studying the opportunity of a regulation of the market, but everything accelerated in November 2022:

  • Bruno Le Maire was questioned by several media on the excesses of influencers and claimed his wish to act quickly
  • in parallel a law proposal of the NUPES (left hand) deputy Aurélien Taché intended to regulate the actions of influencers (since then there have been 4 others).

Since then, a first round table was organized at Bercy on 9 December 2022. I would like to salute the approach of the Minister and his teams, especially the work of Morgane Weill and Etienne Floret who lead these meetings. This is the first time that the players in the influencer marketing sector have gathered around a table to reflect on our issues, with a mindset of collaboration and consumer protection.

From the very first meetings it was made clear to us that nothing had been decided yet, and that all the issues were on the table. But that the idea was to regulate the market, probably through a law.

Beyond the first round table, 4 meetings were planned in January 2023 to address specific issues, in parallel with a public consultation on the website.

Who’s taking part to the round tables ?

No less than fifty actors were invited to the first round table, in person or by video conference (slightly fewer participants in the subsequent, more specific meetings). The number and quality of the participants, the prestigious setting… I have to admit that it was quite impressive!

Round Table Influencer Marketing in Bercy, Dec 9th 2022

Among the participants are:

  • The Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty
  • The DGE (Direction Generale des Entreprises)
  • The DGCCRF (Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes)
  • Regulatory authorities of specific industries: AMF (finance), ANJ (gambling), etc.
  • Brand representatives: UDM, UDECAM, UNIFAB, CNIEL, etc.
  • Consumer associations
  • Representatives of communication agencies (notably SCRP)
  • ARPP (French Advertising Regulation Authority)
  • Some social networks: Meta, Youtube, Snap, TikTok
  • Influencer agencies
  • Influencer agents
  • Influencer platforms (such as Kolsquare)
  • Researchers (especially in law, or in addiction mechanisms)
  • An influencer (Hugo Travers, aka HugoDecrypte)

A lot of people, but unfortunately not all the actors are represented. In particular, we are missing :

  • More influencers to carry their voice, because less than 5% of them are represented by agents and there is no union of influencers in France
  • Big « agents » of influencers, such as Webedia, but also and above all the media such as TF1, M6 or Canal+ which represent many talents
  • Significant social networks such as Twitter, Twitch or Pinterest
  • Major e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Alibaba who work with hundreds of thousands of influencers worldwide (and therefore in France)
  • Affiliation companies that manage sponsorship programmes in which influencers are remunerated on the basis of sales performance, via promotional codes or tracked links (a significant part of the market)
  • Technology companies specialized in influence (Kolsquare’s competitors)
  • Technology companies not specialized in influence but which help many brands to collaborate with influencers (social listening, affiliation, community management, User Generated Content, etc.)

As it seemed to me that very few participants understood the value chain of our sector, as well as the typologies of actors, I suggested a simplified landscape of the actors of influencer marketing in France (see below).

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