Really? The people I know in “old” media see adtech as a Faustian bargain they make just to stay alive in a media economy where the ratio of “content” to journalism or entertainment is a zillion-to-one. That ratio owes entirely to adtech incentivizing “content production”—fake news included—above all else.

Those media also have hardly a clue what ads actually run in front of which readers, viewers or listeners. They also have neither interest in ad performance metrics (exposures? clicks? increases in familiarity?) nor an idea of how they work, since the actual placements are made by multiple third parties that provide only a single measure of worth: money for having placed the ads. They do know, however, that they receive only a fraction of the money spent by the advertisers, since middle-men shunt away much of the money along the way.

What the media lack most from adtech was what they had with real advertising in the old days: sponsorship, based on the value of the medium itself. Brands supporting brands.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t have it again. I expect they will.

Written by

Author of The Intention Economy, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, Fellow of CITS at UCSB, alumnus Fellow of the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard.

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