Dazed and Confused

These days I feel a bit like Matthew McConaughey in “Dazed and Confused,” struggling to remember which way is up or what exactly happened yesterday, buckling under the pressures of data moving at the speed of light and piling higher and higher. Marketers are feeling the same pressures. With so many digital channels, and vendors capturing more and more data, it seems nearly impossible to make good decisions.

How do we as marketers, buyers, and sellers deal with this challenge? Some are sticking their head in the sand, some are taking the Google drug, and others are brave enough to dig in and start building processes, crafting strategies, and selectively converting data into powerful information.

Before I get to how the brave souls are tackling this big data issue, it’s important to understand what Google is up to. Google is now in the business of inventory aggregation and is making an outsized amount of money from processing marketing transactions. While there’s nothing wrong with that at face value, it presents a large and mounting problem for publishers selling premium inventory. By using Google’s tools, and handing over large amounts of inventory, publishers are giving away the farm. Admittedly, the tools are reasonably priced and accomplish most of what a publisher needs. But this comes at an immense cost.

Google has built, on publishers’ data, a massive learning system, and every additional piece of inventory makes the system smarter. This enables Google to sell, optimize, and target so that the publisher doesn’t have to. Some publishers may say, “That’s great!” But for most, this means “disintermediation” and not of just the cheap remnant inventory. Increasingly Google handles premium inventory in the same way, which presents a serious threat to a publisher’s revenues and margins. Google has effectively commoditized everything, bringing down prices and making it nearly impossible to maintain high-quality content and products for consumers. The evolution is clear: 1) search; 2) display. Next up: video. Digital TV won’t be far behind.

The writing is on the wall. Are you brave enough to go it alone or are you so dazed and confused that you will take your chances with the devil?

Confused email on home page via Shutterstock.

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