in progress

Ethnographie des catégories publicitaires (avec Thomas Beauvisage, Jean-Samuel Beuscart et Samuel Coavoux – ANR Algodiv)

L’enquête a pour objet d’étudier de manière empirique la manière dont les dispositifs et les techniques d’audience planning et de ciblage publicitaire sont utilisés par les professionnels. Au-delà de la bascule à présent bien reconnue du « média planning » vers « l’audience planning », ils portent ensemble une promesse relativement vague de pertinence, de personnalisation publicitaire et d’hyper-ciblage. Dans la pratique, comment cela se passe-t-il ? Parmi les outils de ciblage et d’audience planning disponibles sur étagère, qu’est-ce qui est vraiment utilisé par les professionnels, par qui et dans quels contextes ? Comment le métier et les organisations se transforment-ils au contact de ces technologies ? Qui sont les détenteurs de ces nouvelles expertises en matière de fabrication des catégories publicitaires ? Où ces expertises se situent-elles, dans les organisations et dans la chaîne de valeur publicitaire ? Sont-elles transférables ? Enfin, dans quelle mesure les catégories publicitaires traditionnelles sont-elles transformées ? A côtés des découpages traditionnels (socio-démo, intentions), est-ce que d’autres cadres de référence émergent, permettant de stabiliser, et de capitaliser sur, ces catégories émergentes ? Est-ce que de nouvelles ontologies apparaissent ?


Cookies and chips: The resistible digitalization of the mobile consumer (with Thomas Beauvisage)

Over the last ten years, marketing professionals have invested in various devices aimed at digitalizing the point of sale. Mobile phones, and the connection they open between the digital and physical worlds, are likely to profoundly renew the way organizations build the representations of consumers upon which they operate. Following a ‘marketer research’ perspective, this article aims to describe the new, mobile-based market infrastructure that is currently being implemented; the figures of the consumer it builds on and renews for marketing purposes; and the opportunities it offers to create marketing devices. We address this question by focusing on the world of physical retail. We show that online commerce websites and http cookies have enabled a connection between three traditionally-separate figures of the consumer, defined as an audience, as a (loyalty) card, or as a shopping cart. The smartphone carries the promise of pursuing this movement into store aisles. We show, however, that the domestication of physical geography to cultivate mobile consumers is particularly difficult, and so far based on a series of disparate attempts and experiments.


Cookie Monsters. A Tale of Digital Gluttony (with Thomas Beauvisage)

Following an STS perspective, the aim of this article is to examine the market arrangements built by the online marketing industry around small pieces of data now ubiquitous in digital markets – namely ‘http cookies’. We show how cookies have become the backbone and the main vehicle of a vast market infrastructure, based on its ability to transform online behavioral information into data assets, and to attach these assets to advertising products. We examine the complex trading operations that are implemented from the elementary brick that constitutes the cookie. We also raise the question of the strength and durability of this infrastructure, at a time when it is disputed and seems weakened. Beyond the particular case of cookies and the advertising industry, we show the interest to pay particular attention to the construction, the functioning and the eventual disappearance of market infrastructures as part of the ongoing process of market digitalization.


Datassets: Assetizing and Marketizing Personal Data (with Thomas Beauvisage)

In a 2011 report entitled “Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class”, the World Economic Forum stated that “personal data will be the new ‘oil’ – a valuable resource of the 21st century.” The report advocates the assetization of personal data through its literal monetization, and forecasts huge benefits for companies as well as individuals’ empowerment. In this chapter, we wish to question this vision of assetization-as-commodification by paying attention to the actual status and uses of personal data. We build upon an empirical investigation of market intermediaries in the marketing and advertising industries. First, we analyze the repeated and unsuccessful attempts to create a C2B market for personal data, and the underlying conception of personal data marketization as a trade-off between privacy and the benefits of tailored services. This failure can be considered as a ‘performativity failure’ of economic models and related experiments. Secondly, we investigate the actual markets for personal data, a B2B activity strongly linked with marketing and advertising services. We show that personal data can be commodified and traded, especially by ‘data brokers’, but as derivates adding value to advertising products in the form of contacts, segments or attributes. We finally argue that the spreading of tracking technologies and Data Management Platforms (DMPs) inside private companies contributes to transform datasets into ‘datassets’, that can either compete or articulate with third party, commodified, data.