I help make the Internet free

When people ask what I do for a living, it usually results in me asking how much time they’ve got to listen to my response…

Photo courtesy of Carl Heyerdahl

The details of product management for a SaaS platform that enables performance marketing networks to connect publishers and marketers are enough to put all but the nerdiest of nerds to sleep. But beyond the gory details of life at one of Seattle’s fastest-growing companies lies the deeper question: what do I actually do for a living?

What change am I creating in the world?

That’s why I’ve taken to repeating one of my favorite answers to that question, given by a good friend and colleague of mine, Cameron Stewart: “I help make the Internet free.” It’s deceptively simple, yet it never ceases to inspire me.

In case you didn’t know, the free and open Internet is paid for by advertising. Those annoying ads that drive us all crazy and cause us to install ad blockers to foil their efforts to hock us things we don’t want/need? They pay for the whole party. And it’s better that way. There are precious few websites that consumers are actually willing to pay their hard-earned cash for, and advertising is the currency that fuels the creative economy that brings us all of that delicious content we can’t stop consuming.

But all of that is at risk today.

Publishers have long been given the wrong incentives. The aforementioned pop-ups and annoying ads are a result of an industry that has paid for eyeballs too long. It’s not going to last much longer. Consumers are no longer willing to let bad ads affect the experience of their Internet, and advertisers are no longer willing to throw money down a black hole, hoping for a return that’s impossible to measure.

The sooner all advertising becomes performance marketing, the sooner the entire Internet will reap the benefits of an economy that is aligned to their interests. Nobody complains about the right message reaching them at the right time in the right place, and that’s what we aim to deliver. And I can’t wait.