Commentary

We’re Raising and Industry

Father's Day is coming up this weekend, so I've been thinking a bit about parenting and fatherhood.

I have, without a doubt, the three coolest kids on earth. Don't even bother to email me about what great kids you have. My kids beat them, hands down. You know why? Because they're mine. They are cute, energetic, emotional, and constantly in need of guidance and protection. Best of all, that guidance and protection has to come from me (or my wife)! No one else is "good enough" for them.

My attitude towards life is mighty different today than it was before I had children.

The transition from the freewheeling single life to being a parent is one of the most difficult experiences in life. Unlike some people, my transition to parenting wasn't a particularly pleasant one. I didn't really want additional responsibility; I was having too much fun.

Nevertheless, as my children have grown (and multiplied!), I've begun to recognize that the values they bring to my life are permanent, whereas the "thrills" I had been chasing were illusory and temporary in nature.

Why do I wax so poetic? Believe it or not, my twisted brain has come up with a parallel between parenting and Internet advertising. In fact, I've noticed people starting to take more responsibility as parents to our industry in the past year. And that's a good thing.

We seem to have grown out of those heady times of the single life. Remember the days when we were getting a large allowance (read: venture capital money) from our parents and we were busy spending it on parties, "experiments," and the wild life?

We answered to no one but ourselves and we were going to change the advertising world. Because it needed changing and no one else "got it." Remember that?

Unfortunately, reality crashed the party. Our parents busted us and many of us got kicked out of the house at a tender young age. Now, as the hangover is fading, a newfound maturity is setting in.

We are no longer the self-centered, egotistical, snot-nosed upstarts. We're at the stage where we need to start settling down and growing up. We need to make it on our own.

This industry's attitude has shifted profoundly in the past year. I've seen more real work on important issues accomplished in the past twelve months than in the previous 5 years combined. I can finally see signs of sustainable growth in real dollars being spent online.

Granted, I'm also still seeing low paying CPA deals with otherworldly targeting requirements. There is still some kind of evil competition for how intrusive we can get with our ad units. We're still beating people about the head and shoulders with over-priced, under-performing opt-in email marketing. And let's not even start with the whole spam issue.

But maybe this is all just part of growing up. Some parts of the "family" just don't come along as quickly as others. Just like with our own children, we need constant dedication to guiding, protecting, supporting, and developing this young industry. Just like with our children, this work we do today will have a long-term impact on the advertising world we live in twenty years from now.

So, enjoy Father's Day this weekend (even if you have no plans to ever be a father). Consider it a chance to reflect on what it takes to "raise" an industry from infancy. Consider it a chance to relax and appreciate how far we've come and how promising the future looks.

Happy Father's Day.

Scott Brew is President & CEO of Adtegrity.com, an online advertising network and marketing services firm based in Grand Rapids, MI. He can be reached at scott@adtegrity.com.

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