We Got Fooled Again

In the early days of the internet, we rooted for web upstarts to disintermediate and disrupt the world’s biggest companies that we felt had conspired against consumers in an increasingly centralized system. Well, here comes the new boss. Same as the old boss (except the new boss is way bigger than the old boss ever was, the new boss knows everything about you, and the new boss is everywhere, all the time). Nowhere is the power of the new boss more clear than in the new advertising landscape. From The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta: How the Math Men Overthrew the Mad Men. “Once, Mad Men ruled advertising. They’ve now been eclipsed by Math Men—the engineers and data scientists whose province is machines, algorithms, pureed data, and artificial intelligence … The power of Math Men is awesome. Google and Facebook each has a market value exceeding the combined value of the six largest advertising and marketing holding companies. Together, they claim six out of every ten dollars spent on digital advertising, and nine out of ten new digital ad dollars … Facebook alone generates more ad dollars than all of America’s newspapers, and Google has twice the ad revenues of Facebook.”

+ 60 Minutes: How did Google get so big?

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