Digital advertising has broken the internet

John Dodson 5 months


I spent almost two and a half years working in digital advertising at Yahoo and Rakuten. I learned a lot as I managed ad-tech platforms on both the demand and supply side of the ecosystem—but I struggled because I hated our products. I hated how online ads work.

During my last months at Rakuten, I spent time doing research on ad blocking and how publishers were dealing with the threat to their revenue model. During that period, it was very clear to me that it was a losing battle and that the fundamental model of digital advertising was broken. I left the industry a short time later, and the first thing I did after leaving was install an ad blocker on my laptop.

Wrong Incentives

The use of online advertising has helped to keep content "free" but it never has been free. Users are the product of online businesses, and advertisers their customers. Advertisers spend a lot of money to get their ads in front of users, often using data to target who is most likely to click on the ad or buy something.

Ads are how web sites and apps make a lot of their revenue, so their incentive is to get users to view and click on as many ads as possible. This has led to a large amount of click bait articles full of ads, articles split up into multiple pages with new ads for each "next" you click, and an increase of volume of content over quality.

The desire to serve more ads has also led to apps and sites focusing on addictive behaviors to keep users in their app for as long as possible. This is why the feed is the primary user interface you see in apps today, like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and yes, even LinkedIn. Once you open up the app, it is easy to find yourself endlessly scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling.

Need for Change

This is the very reason why Pivvt is focusing on this industry. The negative impacts of what advertising has left us with is prevalent, including tech addiction, ideology bubbles, and depression. The internet has so much potential for good, but the current model has led to the degradation of our wellbeing as humans.

We believe that there is a better way, and that we do not need to settle for what we have. The big players are deeply entrenched in this advertising model, but our goal is to break away from that with a solution that creates value for everyone: Users, creators, and sponsors/advertisers.

Follow along our startup journey as we build out a better internet, for everyone.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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