The imbalance between media and advertisers

For a very long time, major magazines and TV networks were very strict about the ads that they would run. The format, content and impact of an ad had to be approved before it showed up on network TV or The New Yorker.  There weren’t many good places to run ads, so the media companies had the power.

Now, thanks to algorithmic media buying and the rise of digital, the media company sometimes has no idea who is even placing the ad, never mind how it works or what it’s for.

Ads aren’t vetted, they interrupt and they engage in a race to the bottom. As a result, your phone starts blaring an ad when you’re in a meeting trying to check the train schedule. And the biggest digital companies have given up and simply ignore the content and format of their ads. When a media company does try to establish standards, the algorithms simply go somewhere else.

The shift has gone from the context the ad runs in (which magazine) to the consumer it is targeted to. And that means that if a consumer sees an ad on platform A vs. platform B, the advertiser doesn’t really care. They’re just picking the cheap ones.

Ultimately, this destroys the value of the media company, corrupts our culture and hurts the long-term viability of the brands that have worked so hard to cut corners.

It’s possible to stand up and insist on better instead of cheaper. The entire world doesn’t have to look like the worst Android app.