Don’t let the algorithms grind you down: Publicis and Fnac fight for cultural freedom

Scrolling through Netflix recommendations can be pretty tedious; those 98% matches might make sense but they kill off serendipity and lock us in a cultural cul de sac.

Publicis Conseil has come up with an alternative algorithm for book and record store Fnac — one which recommends music and literature based on what you are unlikely to choose for yourself. Someone who bought a Donald Trump book, for example, might see Al Gore’s latest volume at the top of their list.

Using real data profiles from publisher ad servers, Fnac is flipping the algorithm mechanism to select and serve content that is only a 2% match.

Apparently 80% of what we watch on Netflix comes from the algorithm, so Fnac’s alternative version might have some influence and open our horizons. On social media, the #UnrecommendedByAlgorithm hashtag will serve up more unexpected content.

Marco Venturelli, CEO/CCO Publicis Conseil and CCO Publicis Groupe France, said: “We are living in the age of the algorithms. it’s never been so important to nourish the unexpected, search for serendipity and to escape from the recommendation bubble. it’s a cultural battle, and a human battle after all.”

MAA creative scale: 8

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.