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Whumph Goes The Ad Tech Industry.
Fun fact. Did you know the noise that emanates from the mountain-side before an avalanche is called a "whumph"? The whumphing that you hear is the mountain's way of telling you an avalanche is about to happen, and if you don't hurry up and get to safety you may get buried alive. What starts as a small crackling noise quickly turns into a cacophony of violent thunderous screams as the snow shifts on the surface of a mountain just before it lets go. If you ever find yourself at that point, it's probably too late. It means you've ignored the quieter warning signs.
You know what else ignores the whumph in the night? The ad tech industry. For the better part of two years now, we've watched the ad tech chase the "scale" narrative. Now they’re moving to a more publisher friendly, publisher-first message. It leaves me a little perplexed. It's a veneer, and the reality can be seen by doing nothing more than simply scratching the surface of the narrative (or maybe by forcing an avalanche?).
How can an industry be publisher first if they treat publishers like a means to an end? I'm pretty pro-publisher (in case you haven't noticed). I've spent the majority of my professional life building an independent digital publishing company. I now spend a solid amount of my time trying to figure out how to reach publishers and advertisers and how to connect them in a meaningful way. Most of the open exchange networks I worked with earlier in my carrier were everything but publisher-first.
I'm pretty new to ad tech, so maybe I'm just naive, but I've recently come to the realization that the industry has so much historical baggage, and so much time and energy invested that it's become impossible for most to leave the past behind and see the new reality. If the publisher-first approach results in nothing more than packaging up more inventory to sell advertisers, well, it's not really a publisher-first approach at all. It's just doubling down on the status quo.
Publishers need help. They need help maximizing yield, they need new tools to manage their inventory. They need an industry that's willing to tell an advertiser no if push comes to shove.
Until we, as an industry, are willing to do that... well, we're doing nothing but re-embracing sentiments and then dressing it up in new clothing. Sooner or later the snow will let go. Maybe it’s already letting go as we speak.
I refuse to believe that we’re at the stage where there’s nothing left to do but watch the avalanche come crashing down. So, I ask you this:
What are you doing to put publishers and consumers first? I’d like to hear from you. Let me know what you’re up to and how you plan on changing the industry for the better and I’ll feature your plan or company in the next newsletter issue.
It’s time we start talking about solutions. Let’s talk. Email me and let me know what you're working on. I'd love to know so I can share it with everyone here.