Aram Zucker-Scharff @Chronotope AramZS. Ad Tech Engineering Director. WordPress Dev. Tech for journalism. Prev Fullstack, strategy, econ/game Journo. Ex-altac. Tweets not representing employer Dec. 26, 2018 5 min read

The numbers are all fking fake, the metrics are bullshit, the agencies responsible for enforcing good practices are knowing bullshiters enforcing and profiting off all the fake numbers and none of the models make sense at scale of actual human users. 

Video is a fake

Your scale business models are a house of cards on a base of imaginary numbers.

The independent measurement is a joke

The IAB numbers are bullshit

The App numbers are all fake -

The agency numbers are faked

The app installs are faked

Trending is fake -

The affiliate link referrals are faked -

The ads are fake -

The users are fake -

The landing pages are fake -

The problem isn't just that the internet is full of fakery and bullshit and bad numbers and malfunctioning metrics and bullshitters and fraudsters. The problem is that all the fake shit is layered on top of other fake shit and it just COMPOUNDS itself...

Like you get fake users, who get autoplay videos which no one is really watching

Or autoplay videos that are aggressively all over the page at the same time

Then those autoplay videos double their fake views to fake users with fake metrics

And those fake metrics get fake goal posts

And then even the fake metrics get broken half the time

And who the hell knows how many real human people even watched a video ad campaign? Much less paid attention to it? Or even noticed it?

That's not even counting the entire ad campaigns that are fake where the product is just a bullshit excuse to collect data on you

Or the metrics companies that don't work, know they don't work, and lie out their ass. 

Or the fake publishers with no ideology other than profit -

Or the fake *video* publishers with no ideology other than profit -

Then there's the traffic laundering - 

The $8.2 billion in fraud we actually acknowledge (back in 2015) 

There's the UX studies that *know* traditional ad formats don't work that the IAB ignores to promote traditional banner formats *anyway*

Don't forget the agencies profiting off this fakery - 

Don't forget either, the 7000+ ad products that suck money out of the ecosystem as middlemen but don't appear to be producing anything useful except worse user experiences

The social traffic is fake!

We've known all this forever! In 2013 we saw one scam with "a minimum of 9 billion phony ad impressions served per month." 

The ad tech industry just eats up the profits - 

When you try and purchase inventory 70% or more ends up going to these fraudsters, bullshit artists and bad ad tech vendors - , 

Even some of the writers are fake! 

And then you're lucky if, even if through all the bullshit you get a real ad in front of a real person on a real site, they still see it. 

And some sites will take their fake users who don't look at ads and put them in front of VC as a fake business plan 

So you can create fake "disruption"

And maybe 90% of advertising budgets get stolen? 

There are so many fake numbers and bullshit in the ad tech/media/digital publishing ecosystem it's a defense mechanism, even the people who know they are bullshiting can't tell you where the lies end and the truth begins BY DESIGN.

Almost everyone has incentive to lie, defraud, steal, and barter on user data

And at the end of the day, we're still only sure 8% of ad impressions are seen by humans.


We can't keep trusting ad tech, the IAB, the big tech companies, or the exchanges. The marketplace requires compression, regulation, and transparency,

But every day the marketplace grows and becomes more opaque 

Everything is fake, no one knows what is going on, there's not even a mechanism to create trust, much less incentive to use it. The only people in the internet ad tech game you can trust are the ones who this is hurting the most: legit advertisers, legit publishers, users.

But with every extra middleman or bullshit ad tech company added to the chain it becomes exponentially harder for the three main points in the marketplace to talk to each other or know what's going on.

No tool that isn't in the hands, transparent to, and in the control of one or more of those three end-points of the ecosystem is going to work. If it is out of the hands of legit publishers, advertisers or users the incentive for fraud will continue being greater than the truth.

The ad tech ecosystem doesn't need to be pruned. It needs to be burned to the ground. Until that happens everything that's wrong with the internet will continue to just get worse, because ad tech creates the *incentive* to make it worse.

There *is* a way forward from where we are, but everything has to change. Whole new conversations have to happen. Billions of dollars are all being transacting in this network of fakeness, and to repair that means acknowledging that we can no longer conjure money from nowhere.

And there are a lot of *real* people who are going to push hard against that. People who don't care that their system creates fake news, fake economies and fake ads. People who don't mind destroying the internet for an extra million or two.

It's going to be a challenge to acknowledge that compressing and correcting the internet's ecosystem is going to take a lot of the money built on bullshit and make it disappear. I think burning it all down and building anew is easier. But even that is *so* hard.

Even getting people to acknowledge that the problem of the fake internet is based in money, even if it produces politics as well, is hard. And I don't see a fix unless we start *really* regulating from the government level. Which is its own challenge.

The internet is full of fake bullshit, run on fake numbers, profitable on fake models, feeding you fake information, supporting fake users. None of this is by accident. Make good choices, build the right technology, tell Congress to start making laws.

Now I'm going to get back to doing my best to try to build better tools and approaches.

You can follow @Chronotope.


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