Scott Rosenberg thinks that advertising, as we know it, is gasping its last breath. He makes a compelling case, in agreement with Doc Searls, that digital advertising has the opportunity “eliminate advertising as we know it.“ The article is a great read. And I definitely agree with Rosenberg that The Wall Street Journal coverage, Your Privacy Online – What They Know, is written from an alarmist point of view.
But I fundamentally disagree with a couple of key points leading to this big paradigm shift. First, the WSJ coverage highlights that, “people inside the Web industry generally know all this and take it for granted,” when referring to behavioral information sharing online. Rosenberg goes on to say that people outside the industry do not know all this, but that statement seems to only be in passing. I think this is a crucial point and one that will continue to haunt digital advertising until we accept that ignorance (for the general online consumer) is not bliss. Only once consumers and the industry are on the same page can we utilize things like targeting data freely and effectively. And we’re a very long way from being on that same page.
My other disagreement is about the platform that Doc Searls has built at the top of Rosenberg’s ladder. I really do hope these guys are correct and we’re approaching a watershed moment in the history of advertising. But when our industry is spending valuable resources on things like trying to justify a digital GRP simply because that’s what TV buyers use, I just don’t see how we’re going to shift the entire advertising paradigm anytime soon.
Perhaps Searls and Rosenberg are correct, but it’s going to be a long and slow journey to that exciting and new place.