Commentary

The Fourth Industrial Revolution Might Cost You Your Job

I have written frequently about the increasing threat that is marketing automation. My point has been that it will turn out to be more of a job killer than a job creator.

It seems that the World Economic Forum is proving me right. Last week in Davos, the Forum released some pretty terrifying numbers in a publication called “The Future of Jobs.”  The report shows that if you earn your paycheck in a typical white-collar office and administrative job, you are most in danger of losing your job to an algorithm. Another “growth category” of job losses is identified as the Art, Design, Sports and Media category.

For me, those who currently hold a low-end media-buying and -selling role are prime examples of endangered jobs. They have relied heavily on Excel spreadsheets and other stand-alone technologies. But connected and real-time machine buying and selling is growing very, very fast, and it won’t be long before perhaps half of those currently working in this area find that their skills and roles will have been automated.

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What is particularly problematic is that the growth of new jobs as a result of the fourth revolution is much smaller than the loss of jobs across the whole work force.

And sadly, we also learned last week that with all this automation, the baddies are still raking in big bucks through “falsevertising” — bots and other assorted fake views. The ANA forecast a global price tag of $7.2 billion for fraudulent impressions. At the same time, Global Web Index reported that in the fourth quarter of 2015, 38% of Internet users aged 16 to 64 surveyed said  “I use ad-blocking tools to stop websites from displaying advertisements,” a jump of 10% from the previous quarter.

So while your job is being eaten by a machine, we are using these machines as a potent weapon of mass advertising destruction.
Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Elon Musk are among a growing group of people who warn that the rise of the machine could very well spell the end of humanity. And although their warnings are mostly directed at military-grade robotic “killing machines,” there are a number of economists who warn us of the societal dangers of people not having jobs — or of having no access to an independent, diverse and free media.

Perhaps, though, we can find solace in the fact that total venture capital funding is slowing down somewhat. PWC and the National Venture Capital Association reported that although a staggering $58.8 billion dollars was invested in 2015, the fourth quarter saw a fall of 32% versus the prior quarter.

And an article from the Wall Street Journal this weekend reported that new venture funding in “fintech” (financial-technology — the category that was supposed to take traditional banking and finance apart) is an example of a category that has run into some headwinds, falling by 20% in Q4 of 2015.

Personally, though, I think that the banking and finance sector’s evolution toward more automation is simply slowing down because they started about a decade before marketing and advertising’s tech evolution did. So as some categories are slowing down, I think marketing and advertising automation is just getting started. It ain’t gonna be pretty…

4 comments about "The Fourth Industrial Revolution Might Cost You Your Job".
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  1. Nicholas Fiekowsky from (personal opinion), January 25, 2016 at 2:35 p.m.

    Same cycle as ever, but looks different when you're swimming just in front of the wave.

    I work in IT. I've seen data entry clerks disappear, secretaries become scarce, inter-office mail fade, travel agents become rare (I married one before they were an endangered species), gas pump jockeys vanish...

    Amazon Web Services is changing high-tech job mix - only huge corporations can justify building data centers to house racks of servers. Even NetFlix ditched their data centers to run in the Amazon cloud.

  2. Andrew Susman from Emoto, January 26, 2016 at 2:55 a.m.

    Finlally, someone pointed it out, and well.

  3. Kurt Ohare from ohare & associates, January 26, 2016 at 9:28 a.m.

    Maartin -
    Very thought provoking article and I spent the last 22 hours thinking about your forcast.  And it's probably true - to a point.  But the human brain is unique in its intuition, insight and reasoning capability - not to mention creativity.  (who thought to invent all this technology after all).  Yes programmatic buying is faster, reaches more eyeballs more cheaply etc, etc. but it isn't able to make the qualitative decisions required for campaign design or as far as I know, innovate.  Technology so far is a linear fuction that depends on the algorithm which by it's very nature, is not a creative tool.

    So for the next many years, humans will remain in the midst of the creative process necessary for interacting with other humans: innovation will need data but data will also need innovation.  Which is kind of like the death of books and the end of magazine publishing.

  4. Daniel Caccamo from Convertant, January 26, 2016 at 5:10 p.m.

    There are recommendation engines available that can not only accurately predict but can prescribe the context of content to be delivered and uses qualitative real time data in doing so. These advavnced tools can also accurately complete these tasks on a dynamic database. Creativity and emotional appeals will still be in the hands of humans for a while since a lot of intuition is based on emotion as well as human purchase decisions. 

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