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The Influencers

How Have the Tech Giants Ruined Advertising?

INFLUENCER: StrawberryFrog's Scott Goodson examines how 'The Frightful Five' have impacted the industry

How Have the Tech Giants Ruined Advertising?

The tech giants are too big, declared The NY Times last week. The companies, The Frightful Five - Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) - have metastasised with extraordinary growth since they were small start ups at the same time we started up StrawberryFrog in 1999. These firms now dominate with all the technology that will control our lives for the next 20 years. 

We in the marketing, media advertising industry saw it early on, the great power these firms wielded over us and our clients. Now with evidence mounting that they’ve had a major hand in undermining the very pillars of our democracy by facilitating Russian intervention in elections not only in the US, but in many other nations, the world is scrambling to figure out what to do about them. 

To underline the fear and loathing that is bubbling to the top, early this month the former media op ed editor of the NY Times and author of Magic and Loss, Virginia Heffernan deleted her Facebook account in a powerful protest. 

What we understand better than most is how disturbed our sector was starting a decade ago, as well as the music industry. That the changes let loose by the Five are incredibly complex to understand and impossible to stop. How many of you remember the first time your clients brought a member of Facebook into a meeting with a giddiness and glee rarely seen? Deep down we felt betrayed, at worst we felt a deep seated dread of what these technology firms were capable of. I remember one head-spinning day when developing an innovative Facebook app for Pampers, they flatly refused it though it had been built in close collaboration. “Wow, what power they have,” I muttered to myself. 

I’m interested to hear from you...what is your experience? How have they affected you? What are the implications of their power? What is your experience with their efforts to infiltrate the media, marketing and advertising industry in order to dominate it. And what has this provoked from those who work in this industry? 

I would gauge that many of us are terrified or passively accepting of the fact that these firms have grabbed hold of the ownership of this industry, giving them total cultural and economic power. Then again perhaps we could do and can do nothing. This is what Elon Musk fears the most when talking about his AI doomsday scenarios.

The marketing, media and advertising industry was one of the first industries these firms dug in to source the necessary cash to feed their growth, as clients poured billions from traditional media into building their new platforms for the distribution marketing content. 

Digital technology has now significantly undercut our business just like they did to the music industry which had an impossible time trying to respond to the digital age. And what happens in music and advertising is a sign of what’s ahead for all of culture and the creative industries.

What do you think?

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Genre: Strategy/Insight