Tech Didn’t Kill Advertising; Advertisers Did

adageThe digital advertising meltdown is a clear beacon to an industry that is being reckless with their technical capabilities.

The advertising industry as a whole has been incredibly reckless with digital ad technology, according to Adam Kleinberg in AdAge. He compares the current ad tech landscape to the Wild, Wild West.

“The problem our industry faces with ad tech is a lot like the issue with gun control. Guns are great tools,” Kleinberg writes. “They are very useful if you want to shoot a deer or protect your home. But with almost no regulations — and a whole lot of bad guys out there who would ignore them even if they existed — we wind up with a situation where guns are everywhere, from the hands of the ultra-responsible to the dangerously sloppy to the outright criminal.

“This is just like the Wild West landscape of advertising technology — and while nobody dies, the consequences to the ad industry have been undeniably egregious,” he continues.

He makes the salient point that the tools are fantastic, allowing advertisers to be more efficient, more personalized and more relevant.

“But, the lawless landscape in which this technology has emerged has created an environment that has undermined its own potential,” Kleinberg cautions. “It has had a dramatically negative impact on the perceptions of customers and the way they respond to marketers seeking their attention. An absence of accountability and limited transparency has resulted in bad user experiences and decreased loyalty — exactly the opposite of what marketers seek to achieve with advertising.”

The recent panic in advertising circles about ad blocking is probably a very good thing, serving as a beacon to keep this entire industry off the rocks.

“Advertising doesn’t have to suck. We can tell great stories with digital. We can create marketing that provides value to consumers instead of hurting them,” he concludes. “We can even leverage data to do it in an increasingly relevant and efficient way. If consumers have anything to say about it, we’ll have to.”

At the end of the day it’s a fascinating look at market forces in action. Just one more reason to think that yes, advertisers will eventually get this right.