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You Think You Know How Misinformation Spreads?

Wired [unpaywalled]- How Advertising Broke the World. “The internet is a cesspool of misinformation, and the biggest blue-chip brands and their ad agencies are the ones funding it—by stuffing money into a Rube Goldberg machine called programmatic advertising…You Are the Product Being Sold. Spending on programmatic advertising globally is estimated to reach more than $300 billion in 2023. It involves a chain of commerce, starting with the advertiser and ending with the publisher of the ad, that is far more complex than the oversimplified version I have just tried to walk you through. In fact, it is so complex and so opaque that when pressed, most if not all of those who have been immersed in the industry for more than a decade do not understand all of the jargon or every aspect of how it works, or even how effectively it works. Yet what I kept hearing as the professionals explained it to me was that the process is like a stock exchange, except that the buyer doesn’t know what stock he is buying, meaning that the advertiser doesn’t know whose advertising inventory he is buying. That’s right: The advertiser and its ad agency have no idea where among thousands of websites its ad will appear. That may be true, but it misses the most important point, which is that the publisher and the publisher’s content are not the product. The product is you—the person whose data has been harvested so exquisitely that you are the advertiser’s target. You are the “stock” that the advertiser is buying. The core idea of programmatic advertising is that where you are seeing the ad doesn’t matter…”

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