The story — don’t worry, no spoilers — is about a nerdy boy who mysteriously disappears from a sleepy town in the 1980s, while at the same time a strange girl appears. It turns out there is a place called the “upside down,” a parallel universe where a terrifying monster lives. And now that the connection with the upside down has been established, the monster comes and goes…
There are many terrifying monsters, some set in ancient history, some living among us today, some as real as you and me, some as real as only your imagination allows. Almost all monsters have in common that they are huge and… well, monstrous.
Here's one we -- marketers, advertisers and the media -- have created. It fits the description perfectly: It is huge, and its size is just reason why it is utterly terrifying. Just like the monster in “Stranger Things,” it appears unbeatable and it seems impossible to put it back in its place.
How big is it? Well, here’s just one of its gigantic limbs: Google serves 30 billion impressions per day, amounting to 900 billion per month, or 10.8 trillion impressions per year. Facebook’s 2016 ad revenue is estimated at about $6 billion, so I imagine its numbers to be something similar.
The monster has many heads and tentacles, who all seem to be spewing and clawing at the innocent victim in ever more inescapable ways. That poor victim is of course the consumer, and the monster is digital advertising.
If you let those Google numbers just sink in for a moment, you can begin to see what kind of a monster we — again, collectively — have created. And we can also begin to imagine what the chances are that consumers can escape the onslaught of the monster. Which is why it should surprise no one that the consumer is using weaponry and putting on protective gear to at least ward off the monsters’ continual attacks.
Do consumers have any allies? Not really, because the monster’s diet not only consist of consumers but also of something called ad dollars. And while the supply of humans is somewhat limited, the supply of ad dollars seems to be limitless.
The guardians of the ad dollars seem more interested in ensuring that those ad dollars end up in the multiple bellies of the monster in the most expedient way. Initially they did not fully understand the monster’s diet, so they used wardens to feed the scary monster, but now some have taken to feeding the beast directly. The wardens charge a fee for feeding the beast but that sweet deal is beginning to generate less and less income, so some unscrupulous wardens came up with a wonderful fake food for the monster called bots.
The guardians of the ad dollars and the wardens who feed the beast only think about their own interests. They have endless discussions and even fights over who is the most honest, smartest or most creative in feeding the beast its ad dollars and consumers. But no one in our industry seems to really discuss much what Google’s 10.8 trillion impressions per year means for the poor consumer. And so the monster grows and grows and grows and…