Ad tech is killing the online experience | Felix Salmon | Media | The Guardian

Advertising is making the mobile web almost unusable by clogging up our bandwidth … This is the tragedy of the commons. It’s your bandwidth, and you’re paying for it, but everybody else is clogging it up with stuff you never asked for or wanted.

it’s a function of misaligned incentives.

When it comes to the economics of online publishing, the first thing to remember is that job No 1 isn’t to get the news to you. Rather, it is to monetise you, by selling you off, in real time, to the highest bidder. This happens every time you click on a link, before the page has even started to load on your phone. Once upon a time, if you and I both visited the same web page at the same time using the same web browser, we would end up seeing the same thing. Today, however, an almost unthinkably enormous ecosystem of scripts and cookies and auctions and often astonishingly personal information is used to show you a set of brand messages and sales pitches which are tailored almost uniquely to you.

That ecosystem raises important questions about privacy and just general creepiness – the way that the minute you look at a pair of shoes online, for instance, they then start following you around every other website you visit for weeks. But whether or not you value your privacy, you are damaged, daily, by the sheer weight of all that technology.

Source: Ad tech is killing the online experience | Felix Salmon | Media | The Guardian


the price of efficiency for advertisers is the user experience of the reader. The problem for publishers, though, is that dollars and cents — which come from advertisers — are a far more scarce resource than are page views, leaving publishers with a binary choice: provide a great user experience and go out of business, or muddle along with all of the baggage that relying on advertising networks entails.

More: Why Web Pages Suck – Stratechery by Ben Thompson