I’ll cut to the chase: this will be my final article for MediaPost.
The truth is, I can’t believe I made it this far. Four years ago, my good friend (and great writer) Ari Rosenberg asked me to write a guest column. It was supposed to be a one-time thing, but for whatever reason, my article resonated, and our editor asked me if I would contribute monthly.
I agreed, and promptly spent the next four years pissing off various industry leaders by challenging some of their insane ideas. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun.
As an outsider to this industry, it’s easy to find a lot to pick on. The industry’s flagrant disregard for consumer privacy is chief among them.
Along the way, though, I also found a lot to admire. I gained an enormous respect for the really smart folks in the industry who are driving it forward: the irreverent and awesome Mike Smith at Forbes, the ballsy Walker Jacobs at Turner, the über-thoughtful Dave Morgan, the sartorially perfect Jim Spanfeller, and perhaps most of all, the brilliant folks at Flipboard who showed us all what a beautiful online magazine should look like.
So with my hat off to each of them and others, here are the five things I have learned in the last four years:
1. You sure know how to party: You put the tech industry to shame. This is the most fun, high energy, charming, and optimistic industry there is.
2. Love thy geek: The invisible hand of technology has transformed your industry, yet you inexplicably fill your ranks with people that can’t code. This is a huge mistake. If you expect to keep up with the transformation happening around you, start hiring a ton of geeks and give them the authority to turn things upside down (they are doing so anyway).
3. Targeting doesn’t matter if the creative sucks: You can target a 28-year-old Sagittarius female Harvard graduate who speaks French and loves tennis and the Balkans. So why
do you serve her a penis enlargement ad that looks like it was made by a small child?
Creative does not easy translate from offline to online. We have only scratched the surface in leveraging the medium to deliver incredibly rich experiences.
4. You will inexplicably continue to chase a terrible privacy strategy: Despite the outrage of many within the industry (myself included), the broader group and industry associations seem to oppose all forms of reining in flagrant privacy abuse. This will turn out to be the biggest mistake the industry makes. It will only cause knee-jerk regulation that is sure to be catastrophic.
5. I’m never going to really understand ad sales: While I have both bought and sold ads, the client’s rationale and approach to buying media will never fully make sense. God bless the salespeople that have to dive into the great abyss and come out with an insertion order.
Passing the Baton
Thank you for letting a geek get a seat at the table, and be a part of the conversation. Thank you for four years of insightful comments, for challenging my thinking, for providing much-needed criticism, and for elevating the level of debate.
The time has come for someone else to share their views and provide a new perspective.
I can’t wait to read what they have to say.
Editor's Note: We're really sorry to see the last of David's commentaries. We already have a candidate who wants to write more frequent columns and could also fill David's slot. But we're open to queries from other good writers who want to post monthly. If you have some provocative insights about online publishing to share, please email email@example.com and include relevant experience, one or two article ideas, and writing samples. Thanks!