What Is to Be Done About the Ad-Based Internet economy?

Not yet, but I will =)

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An interesting quote from “Chaos Monkeys” by Antonio Garcia Martinez:

In media, money is merely expendable ammunition; data is power. With this new programmatic technology that allowed each and every ad impression and user to be individually scrutinized and targeted, that power was shifting inexorably from the publisher, the owner of the eyeballs, to the advertiser, the person buying them. If my advertiser data about what you bought and browsed in the past was more important than publisher data like the fact that you were on Yahoo Autos right then, or that you were a (supposedly) thirty-five year old male in Ohio, then the power was mine as the advertiser to determine price and desirability of media, not the publisher’s. As it turned out, this “first party” advertiser data - the data that companies like Amazon know about you - is more valuable than any publisher data.

This was a seismic shift that would affect everything about how we consume media, leaving publishers essentially powerless and at the service of the various middlemen between them and advertiser dollars, all in the name of targeting and accountability. If the publisher wasn’t savvy enough to arm itself with sophisticated targeting and tracking before tangling with the media-buying world, then that world would come to them, in the form of countless arbitrageurs and data quacks peddling media snake oil. Which is why even august publishers like the New York Times live at the pleasure of the media supply-side technology, data management solutions, and advertiser technologies that ostensibly pay them. Of course some very protective publishers like Google and Facebook, with unique media offerings, refuse to get arbitraged so openly, and to one degree or another, attempt to own the technical and the business connections between them and their advertising dollars.