But, however efficient software-born automation and cloud-driven centralization have made our industry, it is critical that we also preserve and rebuild its humanity. I don’t just mean overcoming the specter of a future where key tasks that have historically driven media and advertising-- like creativity, story-telling, news gathering, drawing and editing --are done by robots/AI. I mean how media and advertising affect their users and consumers.
I am much less concerned about an advertising and media industry driven by robotic data, science and software than I am by software developers and tech tycoon wannabes that believe winning in a game-able programmatic ecosystem is what’s important, not what the result means for consumer experiences and societal impacts.
Many parts of the digital ad marketplace are broken, doing damage, leaking money, enabling fraud and exposing private consumer data. Many of the people involved can or should know better, but the industry pays well and many find that a little bit of willful ignorance can go a long way. It’s amazing what some can justify, like made-for-advertising sites. MFAs deliver terrible experiences for consumers, wasted value for advertisers, and siphon away revenue from the publishers who can truly add value to both constituencies.
We need to shift our optimization focus away from pipes and platforms and direct it to the humans that these systems should serve. We should be thinking in terms of delivering media and advertising that not only inform and entertain, but that delight, creating lasting value for consumers and the brands that are part of them.
AI and algorithms aren’t the enemies here. They will be the enablers, the tools that make a better, more human, world of advertising and media possible. But they will need to be shepherded. It won’t happen without leadership intent on making the human experience better, not just faster, more responsive and more revenue-generating.
What do you think?