CANNES – WPP’s Mark Read says the advertising industry is in a time of “structural change, not structural decline,” but survival depends on people within the industry making the effort embrace that change. Interviewed by Beet.TV at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Read points to the event itself as evidence of change, noting its “fresh start” with fewer days and fewer awards entries.

“If we have a better festival, it will prosper. In the same way our industry, and I include WPP, we need to make changes as well,” says Read, who is COO of WPP and Global CEO of its Wunderman digital agency. “We need to become simpler to navigate.”

When Read joined Wunderman several years ago, he recalls some people disparaging the venerable direct marketing agency for being in the direct-response space. “But actually, today all marketing is direct marketing, so we can do everything.”

Some industry change is imposed by outsiders, for example regulators. Read notes that the recent implementation of the European Union’s GDPR privacy strictures “has had a big impact in Europe.”

He contrasts the situation with the United States, where there is a different approach to privacy. “The EU approaches privacy as a sort of human right, something that consumers come to expect,” Read says. “I think the U.S. view is companies can do what they want to do so long as they’re clear about they want to do. As long as they do what they say, they’re fine.

“In the main, GDPR has been a challenge for companies, but I think it’s been a good thing as well.”

Asked about the ongoing efforts to bring more transparency to the digital media supply chain, Read says WPP’s GroupM media unit “has talked a lot to our clients about what they need to do to make sure that their marketing messages appear next to content that they’d like it to appear next to.”

Other improvements to the supply chain will require more cooperation for mutual benefit. “No one part of the industry can solve the problems on its own. It requires cooperation between various players.”

In a nod to the dominance of Facebook and Google, Read says there is a need for a market where people can afford to create quality content, particularly news.

“But then I think it’s incumbent on news organizations to evolve and innovate the way they create news, the way they work,” he says. “Each player in that ecosystem, agency, client, media owner, technology company, has a role to play and actually it’s the sort of cooperation around them and the coalescence of interests that will help us.”

This video is part of a series produced by Beet.TV at Cannes Lions 2018 about advertising accountability presented by Mediaocean.    Please find more videos from this series here.