The role of technology in advertising

Executives at a conference in Cannes have been discussing the future of advertising. As reported in the New York Times:

executives harshly criticized Google’s recent agreement to place ads next to Yahoo search results. The move could strengthen Google’s dominance over the most lucrative portion of the fast-growing online advertising field.

Fair enough. I think we would all agree with that.

But the tone of this next quote suggests a mis-understanding of the role of technology in advertising:

Ad executives worry that Google and Microsoft, which is moving to bolster its capabilities in search and other areas of online advertising, will not stop there. They fear that the companies want to extend their reach into traditional advertising — transforming, as they see it, a business built on creativity to one controlled by the sterile algorithms of computer programmers.

I have long thought that the advertising industry could become more efficient and that ‘creativity’ is a smaller part of the value to clients than many ad executives think. It feels to me like this is like arguing for the benefit of hand made goods in the face of competition from mass production.

What technology might do is break the link between creative services and media buying. That would open up some interesting opportunities for new types of online market place and mass collaboration platforms.