There have been murmurs in the advertising industry for years about ad tech firms that load cookies, claim to add value and use words like activate, traction and discover -- but in the end just confuse the hell out of buyers, while taking a percentage of their action.
Said one publisher who asked that his name NEVER appear in an Over the Line column: "I have about 15 companies in my tech stack -- and, frankly, I don't know what three-quarters of them do. I know I have to pay them a couple of cents for every ad we run, but I can't for the life of me understand why. Maybe these K-Also-2 guys can figure it out."
While it has long been rumored that half of all advertising spending is a waste, Mr. Rothenbergermelt said that the mission of the investigation was not to figure out which half, but "to see if there are some little guys we can blame, so that brands don't give us a hard time about that 'half wasted' concept."
"It is a classic PR maneuver to investigate yourself," industry analyst Algonquin J. Calhoun told Over the Line. "If pretending the problem doesn't exist year in and year out doesn't work, then the next best thing is to hire somebody who knows who’s writing their check. I suspect that they'll nail some little Israeli start-up, claim it was an isolated overseas instance, then life will go back to normal."
There is also concern that because publishers and buyers allowed the tech stack tomfoolery through ignorance or negligence, the larger online ad industry beyond its technology could be implicated by the investigation. "I don't much worry about that," Mr. Rothenbergermelt said. "If there is one thing the online ad industry is really good at, it’s confusing everyone. Nobody has the skills or knowledge to understand how our black boxes work, so they just kinda take on faith what the suppliers claim and add to the stack. I don't care who investigates what — nobody will ever figure out what works and what doesn't. That is part our of core strength as an industry."