There is an Ad Tech Bubble… Just not the Way You’re Thinking

Looking at your social media feeds nowadays is like going to the zoo. Everybody is operating inside of their own little bubble of existence, each one equipped with its own natural habitat. This is especially true in this election season. Your liberal friends will share exclusively from liberal websites and conservative friends will share from exclusively conservative websites. Comic books, sports, yoga, cross-fit, vegans. We slide past these hermetically sealed bubbles of interest with our thumbs several times a day.

Today it’s not enough for us to create our own bubble of the world we wish existed, but we must announce to the world how great the bubble is. And in the Ad Tech industry we are the biggest offenders.

Discussion about Ad Tech in our industry publications makes about as much sense to the common consumer as the entire works of Shakespeare in Klingon. An explanation of the most recent breakthrough in quantum computing is more human-readable than the average Ad Tech press release. We’ve fallen in love with our own jargon and can barely write a think piece that’s not extremely esoteric and self-serving.

Actual consumers come in contact with ad tech hundreds of times a day, yet we don’t seem to collectively have any interest in talking in terms that consumers understand.

The last time you were meeting new people at a party or event (and if you’re not meeting new people outside the industry that speaks even more to the problem) how did you describe what you do for a living? Was it a simple “I’m in tech.” or “I’m in marketing?” Or did you go full Ad Tech mad lib? If you need assistance follow the instructions below:

· Simply replace the letter in brackets <> with a word from its corresponding column

· The word can apply to your company or be chosen at random, your marketing team at some point has certainly promised all of these

Your fellow guest’s eyes might glaze over or perhaps they will chug their drink so that they have an excuse to say, “Very interesting. Ooh, looks like I need a refill”

There are several reasons we find ourselves in this situation. The first is that the specifics of what we do are complicated. The second is that we may run the risk of scaring people into thinking that they’re in an Orwellian nightmare of surveillance. But the main reason, and the easiest to correct, is our inability to explain how our work effects their everyday life.

Let’s try this next time you are asked what you do.

“My company, uses technology to make advertising more effective”

“How exactly do you do that?” They may ask.

“For example, do you ever get an e-mail promoting some product that you never asked for and have no interest in?”

“All the time.”

“We’re trying to stop that from happening. It’s a waste of time and money to bother people with ads that they don’t want. But have you ever been on YouTube when an ad comes on that you can skip but you watch it anyway because it actually looked interesting to you?”


“That’s what advertising technology is trying to do. Keep everything you read and watch free and not bug you with ads you don’t want.”

It’s pretty simple. At the end of the day people want to know how does what you do affect me. Find a pain point or explain a benefit that they can understand.

We spend so much of our professional lives talking amongst ourselves that we have morphed our language into a dialect that obfuscates the actual value we’re working to create. All of this cryptic language only hurts us when those who are ignorant of the inner-workings of ad tech (i.e. most of the world) are presented with scary Orwellian descriptions of the industry.

We need to get out in front of these issues and it begins by busing out of our little Ad Tech bubble and entering the real world.

*These are the opinions of Ryan Reed and do not necessarily represent the views of any other person or organization