The Adtech Game of 3-card Monte!

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Agencies touting a data asset giving them the ability to address 70%-80%-90% of adults might be right when they say they can serve that many people ads. But ask yourself this, does it make sense to market to 200 million people? Probably not and more to the point, it is incredibly wasteful to market to ANYONE not likely/not able/not interested in buying your product or service. It’s amazing to me that in 2023, even with the AdTech/Social media platform data blackout, I’m still writing about this. If you take a step back the entire picture becomes immediately clear. Big tech/Adtech/Big social don’t care if they are wasting your marketing dollars. They see themselves as your only options which sets the table for abuse. 

They manipulate numbers to make it appear they’re doing great but even a slightly deeper look illuminates the problem they all have. Engagement and conversions for brands and end users is down; even if Meta can say they have 3 billion users. Threads, which is what they tout in their new numbers, has been widely adopted but rarely monetized and even the monetization model found inside Facebook’s marketing platform is diluted at best. Results aren’t what they used to be. The reason why is simple; over 95% of consumers opted out of being tracked by all of these apps. They’re running on static data or very generic real-time data, neither of which will drive the robust results marketers need to see from their ad dollars. Simply marketing to the masses doesn’t convert for products and services that need to be in front of a very specific audience.  

So, enter the game off 3-card Monte- or Follow the Lady. These are all things the AdTech platforms, including everything from big social to OTT, DSP, Programmatic, and the like, have stated in the last 12 months at various points and in various venues:

  • You can still use hyper targeted audiences
    And also…
  • We’ve removed tens/hundreds of thousands of targeting selects

How can both be true?

  • We offer hyper targeting capabilities
    And also… 
  • Build your Audiences to a minimum of 2 million users to arrive at palatable cost per acquisition goals

Both cannot be true!

  • Track real-time conversions to assess ROI
    And also…
  • Tracking engagement is what really matters (while removing attribution tracking)

So which is it?

There are copious amounts of contradictory statements being made daily by these platforms and the entire industry is sitting on their hands and acting like these companies are still leading in some way. When an organization completely shifts their language, there is always a reason. In this case, they simply cannot legally and ethically target audiences in meaningful ways for marketers and brands alike. Frankly, it’s time to say that the emperor has no clothes, if you’ll pardon the cliched reference (and even if you won’t). These companies think they’ve arrived at a place where they can claim world dominance without so much as a peep being uttered about how full of shit they are. And they are full of shit. 

At a time foreign competition is ramping up from the likes of TikTok, we have seemingly given domestic AdTech companies a pass on innovating. It seems as though they have simply said “If we can’t cheat, illegally gather data, illegally track our users and/or profit from our refusal to concern ourselves with consumer privacy, then we don’t want to play”. They’re taking their ball and going home.  We say let them. The ability to simply serve the ads is almost ubiquitous at this point and so building targeting audiences first using real, legally compliant data and then simply publishing the list of devices for the swerving piece is a natural and smart work-around big tech. And that is exactly what we’ve done at Specificity- created a work around that allows for targeting while protecting consumer privacy. But more on that later… (tongue-in-cheek).

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