Call it “adtech.” It pretends to be advertising, but, says Doc Searls, it’s more closely directed to direct marketing:
Like junk mail, adtech is driven by data, intrusively personal, looking for success in tiny-percentage responses, and oblivious to harms it causes, which include wanton and unwelcome surveillance, annoying the shit out of people and filling the world with crap.
But adtech is far worse, because it also funds hyper-partisan news flows, including vast rivers of fake news, much of it from pop-up publishers that are as fake as the clickbait they maximize. Without adtech, fake news would be marginalized to the digital equivalent of supermarket tabloids.
And this, explains Searls, is why journalism these days is “in a world of hurt”: “[I]t has been marginalized by a new business model that requires maximizing ‘content’ instead.”