Copyranter: The ad tech bubble is about to explode

Sorry to “burst your bubble” techies (heh), but, yes, there is an ad tech bubble — a honking, quivering bubble overinflated with pure bullshit. And when it pops, hundreds of fraudulent, dishonest companies will be sent screaming into cyberspace never to land anywhere ever again. If we’re lucky.

It’s already started. And there is only one direction this under-the-line ad industry can go from here, and that’s straight to hell. I abhor charts, but this one showing the ridiculous explosion of ad tech companies tells the story simple enough for a 5-year-old to understand.

adtech copy
Find your company at right, and win absolutely nothing.


You can see the whole chart here. Scott Brinker, who writes the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, created it in January 2015. He says the real number was probably north of 2,000. He also says his 2016 update will be finished soon. Hope he’s got a enough memory and a big enough screen.

For those of you who don’t know what “ad tech” companies do, that’s fine, because I really don’t either. Here’s a buzzword filled definition that I put together from about five sources: “The programmatic implementation of advertising using algorithms to hyper-target placement to the ‘perfect’ demographic.”

Plus ça change, etc.


Here’s a working, real-world definition: a series of carefully interwoven lies. Somewhat amazingly (at least to me), these sham-shilling ad techies have somewhat successfully inserted their hooey between brands and publishers.

But just recently, brands are beginning to realize that most all of the ad tech results data is doodoo. That’s because honest digital ad folk (like Adam Kleinberg, CEO of digital agency Traction) are speaking out, realizing that their own survival hinges on the elimination of these bullshit numbers and the discovery of real numbers.

But, not one advertising or marketing or tech guru has yet figured out how to deliver real digital results numbers to brands. Somebody better hurry up.

The best and simplest evisceration of ad tech I’ve read is a post by all-around computer and Web man Maciej Cegłowski, who currently runs the bookmarking site Pinboard. On his blog Idle Words, Cegłowski also uses the Brinker chart to help explain the ad tech bubble in plain monetary terms. It’s a short but perfect illustration that lays out why you ad tech people should start looking for a new career IMMEDIATELY:

Compare the number of ads you see in a given day to the number of purchases you make. And consider the indirect maziness of modern advertising, with its brand awareness campaigns and social media influencers. There’s not a lot of milk left in this cow.

Investors are herd animals. When they bolt, the adtech swamp will drain, and who knows what hideous monstrosities will be left flopping on its muddy bottom.

Read the post here.

As we plow into 2016, everybody is freaking out over ad blockers. Well, it is ad tech that created the need, the demand for ad blockers. And ad tech has zero answers for them. The best answer to ad blocking is a creative one: make better, funnier, more interesting ads — and that’s not going to look like the current crappy, ineffective banner ads or the current deceptive, ineffective native ads. But the creative must lead the way online and especially in mobile advertising. Software ain’t creating creative better than creatives anytime soon. Technology needs to get out of the way, and follow.

Meanwhile, ad techies? Get out now, or eat crap data and die.

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