A death watch for the Lumascape
by Doc Searls Saturday, October 8, 2016

In There’s No Reason Not To Be Bullish On Ad Tech, Allison Schiff in AdExchanger makes a case for the viability of adtech, framed in terms of adtech companies' stock value. The rest of this post is copied and pasted from my comment under the piece...

Talk about stock market value all you want. It's still not wise to bet on anything customers hate as much as the Lumascape ordnance that penetrates their apps and browsers, clutters their screens, insults their intelligence, tries their patience and demeans the very brands being advertised.

How many people block ads now as a matter of course on their computers and mobile devices? Half a billion? How many more would do it if they knew how?

Blaming ad blocking and tracking protection on the companies providing them is like blaming pharmaceuticals for treating diseases. People use ad blockers and tracking protection for the same reason they use umbrellas and sunblock: to protect themselves from something they don't want.

Ad blocking and tracking protection are clear signs that demand and supply in the networked marketplace need better ways to signal each other than surveillance-fed guesswork sustained by tendentious thinking and machine logic that is utterly disconnected from the actual marketplace where human beings live, spend their money and invest their loyalty.

This is a marketplace where for many decades the arts and sciences of advertising created and sustained brands worthy of the noun. But then the Internet and Big Data came along, and both proved to be perfect landscapes across which the junk mail business and its thinking could stage an assault on Madison Avenue. As I wrote in Separating Advertising's Wheat and Chaff (http://j.mp/adwhtch), "Madison Avenue fell asleep, direct response marketing ate its brain, and it woke up as an alien replica of itself."

That alien replica is the Lumascape, which has become addicted to smoking its own exhaust. The narcotic in that exhaust is tracking. 

It should help to remember that ad blocking, which had quietly been around since 2004, took off immediately after publishing and the adtech business gave the middle finger to Do Not Track in 2012—and that DNT was nothing more than a way for users to issue a polite request. Dismissing a clear signal from the marketplace was worse than delusional. It was self-damaging in the extreme.

Now we have the the biggest boycott in world history (see http://j.mp/bcott), plus the .eu's GDPR (http://bit.ly/2dAifuj), which is nuclear-tipped missle headed straight for the Lumascape. For either or both reasons, tracking is doomed.

Maybe, after it's over, real advertising—the kind people tolerated, and in some cases even liked—will come to life online. But I'm not holding my breath.

  • With you all the way - other than the term 'ad blocking' ... I know it has become the generic term that everyone uses - but shouldn't we be clear and call them what they are - which is what we object to .... 'Tracker Blockers' ?