There’s nothing I find more mind-numbingly obnoxious than people who create a dividing line between “Digital Advertising” and “Traditional Advertising.”

That false dichotomy was invented by smarmy digital ad people to imply “this new shiny stuff is good…that crusty traditional stuff is yesterday’s news.”

Digital advertising turns 30 this year.

The same year Nancy Kerrigan got whacked in the leg, O.J. went from football hero to suspected killer, and a new show called Friends went on TV, the first banner ad went on a website.

44% of the people who saw it clicked on it. Today, the global average on ad clicks is about .05%.

You promised businesses clarity but gave them mind-numbing dashboards saturated with over-targeting and infinite variables.

The media you call “traditional” abide by third-party accounting of their circulation, viewership, and listeners. The duopoly of Alphabet and Meta self-report their numbers and say “trust us.”

You promised better accounting of our ad dollars, but middlemen lop 50% of budgets right off the top and as much as 1/3 of that is “completely untraceable.”

You’re 30 years old. It’s time to act your age.

Business owners already spend a disproportionate amount of their marketing dollars “digitally”.  Phantom clicks and site visits, and ad fraud have plagued digital for most of its life.  Something is terribly wrong when a business has to hire a specialist to ensure their ad dollars are being spent on… advertisements.

“Digital” is just a tool in the advertising toolbox.  Yes, tools change through the years.  There aren’t as many zeppelins or fax machines as there used to be.  Yahoo and MySpace ain’t what they used to be, either.

Are these the rantings of an old man for whom modern times have passed?


Or maybe a marketer who uses all the tools, including those from Alphabet and Meta.  Tools that are incredibly powerful and useful.  And frustratingly inconsistent.  Like chasing a toddler who just ran off with your car keys.

But you’re not a toddler.  You’re thirty years old.



A set of agreed upon rules.

Maybe stop leaking personal data and siphoning ad money to criminals and hostile states?

You want to call yourself “Digital Marketing,” but you’re just advertising.  And advertising is just a small part of Marketing.  You’re too old for excuses like “the algorithm changed,” and “it’s still new technology.”

No, it’s not.

It’s thirty years old.

Big credit to Bob Hoffman and his new book, Inside the Black Box: How Marketers Waste Billions on Online Advertising.  You can download it for free (and should), because the details about stolen ad money will give you chills.