The most disingenuous part of Facebook’s admission is that, despite employing the brightest engineers on the planet earth, we are supposed to believe they made an honest “math mistake.”
Facebook’s admission, on top of Dentsu announcing that it charged advertisers for buying ads that were never bought, make our industry’s failures more viewable during advertising’s conference week. How ironic.
Advertisers are tired of our games
We charge them for ads not actually seen by people.
We charge them for ads reported as “seen” by non-people.
We pay to import traffic, so our Web sites appear larger than they really are.
We make claims high in fat, low in truth.
We talk in “tongues.”
We arbitrage on advertisers’ lack of understanding.
We “miscalculate” numbers.
Consumers despise us
We are still running pop-up ads.
We serve auto-play video ads that pop up.
We disguise advertising as editorial.
We take data without their permission and then offer a maze to opt out.
We publish content like vending machines dispensing empty calories.
We position ads displayed on mobile devices that are designed to induce accidental clicks.
We sell ads that give their computers infections.
Our biggest problem however, is nothing new.
In 1999, I joined the Internet ad space after buying and then selling magazine print ads the previous 10 years. I quickly realized I’d joined a new media fraternity where I didn’t belong.
These new media brothers and sisters spoke fast and in a language shrouded with acronyms. They had little respect for “traditional media” and less respect for consumers. Site visitors were just numbers to be manipulated to land more ad dollars more quickly. These early Internet advertising leaders were among the first to read their BlackBerry as you spoke to them.
The biggest problem with Internet advertising is a lack of character.
All our problems are self-inflicted, triggered by decisions made by digital ad leaders who continue to choose the path to easier money over the moral high road.
This is not sustainable.
I am not alone. I know there are many others who feel just as I do, but have been cast aside as “traditional media people” who don’t understand this new media world.
It’s time to change that.
It’s time for traditional media minds to take the wheel of this digital advertising sinking ship, bringing the focus back to a great consumer content experience beyond all else.
It’s time to put traditional media minds in leadership positions, where they’d have the strength to say no to advertiser requests that would result in injuring the consumer experience.
It’s time to employ leaders who know how to sell the value of access to consumer attention -- not just the ability to transfer it.
It’s time to employ leaders who don’t panic over unsold inventory.
This pivot back to traditional media values in digital media is possible. Theplayerstribune.com is a great example of a novel yet traditional media business born in this new media world. The content is a “Big Papi”-sized home run for consumers, and better ad dollars will follow great content.
Nontraditional media minds have never understood that old-world order. Their focus has been on chasing cheap ad dollars with fake numbers.
It’s time for CEOs in the media business to step up and say to their digital directors and gigabyte gurus, “Thanks, I finally understand the Internet now. It’s time for you to move aside and let someone with a little more media experience drive.”
The only thing the Internet advertising industry has “miscalculated” is the importance of character in the business of selling advertising.