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Man vs machine

The major online platforms that are funded by advertising, such as Google and Facebook, have been progressing steadily towards their ultimate aim of taking control of where their advertisers’ ads appear, and even what the ads say. At this point, we will just give them money and they’ll do the rest.

At the moment, advertisers specifying where they want to go is an inefficient way for the platforms to manage their inventory. It’s a bit like the nuisance we cause as consumers by wanting to pick our own seats at a stadium. If we were to allow the platforms to make decisions like this, it would be much more lucrative for them. Similarly, the way we want to phrase our message (for corporate reasons) is probably not the way we’ll get the best clickthrough rates, and we know this. But again, this means we’re getting in the way of their profitability.

Staying in control

Fortunately, we’re still a way off ceding control. Unsurprisingly, most us want want to be in charge of our message and where it’s seen. But the day will come where they can tell us to take it or leave it.

The clash may happen because the platforms don’t understand why we wouldn’t want a machine-optimised message being placed in a machine-optimised space. Those of us who’ve dealt with Google since the start know how little they understand about how real businesses think. To be honest, they give every impression of not understanding how humans think. But that’s not stopped them before, and it won’t stop them in the future.