Digital media was supposed to correct all the sins of publishing and broadcasting.
All the wrongs of advertising were to be a thing of the past. All those pontificating creatives who made decisions on a whim and prayer could finally take a hike. At last, advertising could be held to account with pinpoint algorithmic accuracy thanks to the wonders of computer code.
Back in 2003, Viacom’s Mel Karmazin visited Google, where founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin showed how the search engine could apparently tell advertisers exactly what advertising was working.
Mel wasn’t impressed. ‘You’re fucking with the magic, boys.’
Digital media, with its trackability and openness, would be where artifices crumble. The entire promise of internet publishing was that lazy gatekeepers would be overtaken by an army of newcomers that used the cheap reach of the internet to build solid businesses on the back of high quality content.
Didn’t turn out that way. Didn’t turn out that way at all. Fucking with the magic, fucking with the art, fucked everything up.
The explosion of digital media and social media and any form of online media online is a Potemkin village of fake numbers, fake data sets. A few years ago we all agreed around 40 percent of internet traffic was no longer human but bots and code. Nowadays it’s closer to 60 per cent.
Online advertising is a Potemkin village that’s on fire during an earthquake with a tsunami about to crash through it. All the promises of accuracy and targeting have proved to be either false or outright fraud.
That’s what you get for fucking with the magic.