They are still voices in the wilderness, but a few people are starting to question the digital ad industry’s obsessiveness when it comes to ever more granular targeting. In Digiday recently, Simulmedia CEO and behavioral targeting pioneer Dave Morgan estimated 90 percent of targeting isn’t worth it. Upstream Group CEO Doug Weaver, writing on his company blog The Drift, picks up on the theme with the argument that the online industry has grown up with a problem: it has long been in the service of direct marketers, crafting systems that cater to them, rather than to the big brands.
For years we’ve been driven by the principle that more targeting is always better. It’s just not. It’s just always smaller, more complex, harder to predict and ultimately less scalable. No matter how thinly we slice the bean, there’s always someone standing by with a sharper blade, always a few pennies more for an even leaner slice. Morgan is right: We’ve painted ourselves into a marvelously complex corner and only the truth can set us free — and only if we accept it.