About 2 1/2 years ago in this space I wrote the following about online advertising:
"As far as I'm concerned, it's a house of cards."Then a few months later I wrote...
"I never make predictions. But online advertising is a train wreck waiting to happen."Sadly, it's starting to look as if I may have stumbled on the truth.
Through a combination of greed, stupidity, and arrogance the online advertising industry is facing the greatest crisis of its young life.
First, let's be clear about something -- the hysteria now swirling around ad blocking is probably out of proportion to the reality of the problem. Advertisers have been witlessly ignoring the fraud, ineffectiveness, and corruption of online advertising for years. It's not likely that they will all simultaneously stop being stupid.
But there's also very little question that there is a major problem. The use of ad blocking software is growing at alarming rates and this can easily turn into a disaster for a lot of publishers whose revenue model is built on advertising (which is almost everyone.)
The industry should have known. There were many people who warned that its practices were dishonorable, unprincipled, and nefarious. We were dismissed as "Luddite dinosaurs" who "just didn't get it" by arrogant ignoramuses. Now we'll see who "didn't get it."
Despite my disdain for the digital ad industry, I take no pleasure in this crisis. A lot of hard-working, well-meaning people are likely to be hurt by the venal, greedy behavior of an industry out of control.
There were three potential paths for online advertising:
1. The industry could have policed itself. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (Inactive Advertising Bureau) or the 4A's or the ANA could have set reasonable standards of behavior. They did nothing.
2. Governments could have stepped in and set standards. They, wisely, have kept their noses out of this mess. Nobody with a functioning brain wants to get in the middle of this shit fight.
3. Consequently, consumers are in full revolt. The online ad industry wanted interactivity? They got it.
Next Monday, 9/28, I will be speaking at Advertising Week, NY. The talk will be at 10:30 am at the AOL Stage, 11 Times Square. The title of the talk will be "Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From New Jersey." Please come out and protect me when digital maniacs storm the stage and try to strangle me. More info here.
Later this week (Thursday 9/24) I will be speaking in Winnipeg, Canada to the Broadcasters Association of Manitoba. More info here.
Then on Friday I will be speaking to advertising and marketing students in Winnipeg.