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Is it too late to save ad tech from monopolies?

Google has been swallowing huge chunks of the market share. This is not news. As the numbers reveal the walled garden’s self-serving interests, we see Google's real intent is to absorb the ad tech industry (and this isn’t just a Google problem. We’re glaring at you, too, Facebook).

There are plenty of reasons to love Google. The tech giant has innovated everyday technologies for the better. And, to a degree, Google has its place in marketing. But it shouldn't be the only tool in the toolbox.

A Google monopoly will halt innovation

The tighter the grip a monopoly has on a market, the less it needs to compete. Consider another example: The airline industry. After United Airlines forcibly removed a customer from an overbooked plane in April of 2017, online vitriol ensued along with a call to boycott the airline. But something curious happened when the company reported their earnings for the same quarter: Profits rose, showing airline consolidation is eliminating choice.

In a Google monopoly, where the majority of data flows from one company, marketers risk not being able to save their data if they switch providers, creating obstacles for data management. And clearly no one has been able to compete with Google.

Transparency is at risk

Google has long capitalized on the reach and influence it can give smaller brands. The problem is marketers need real, unmitigated data to understand how users interact with their campaigns. It's unlikely Google will open the black box, because, as a monopoly, they won't have to—unless marketers change the way they advertise.

The "black box" approach to programmatic advertising imperils brands and exposes marketers to a supply and buy side's double-dealings. With just fragments of data released, marketers can't see how ad dollars are spent and where ads appear online.

The walled garden has misguided an entire generation of marketers

The walled garden has indoctrinated a generation of marketers to embrace, what I consider to be, abusive advertising techniques. Because of Google, marketers measure campaign success by the number of clicks an ad gets instead of the desired outcome. And they court potential customers with intrusive and grating online ads.

The advertising methods Google touts can do more damage than good. Take cost-per-click for example. With a Google campaign, frequency capping is often ignored, because, as Google would have marketers believe, showing many ads over a length of time increases the chances of an ad getting clicked. But, in truth, nothing is more annoying to a user than the same, relentless ad stalking them on the internet.

A study published in The Journal of Interactive Marketing shows users click less on ads that steadily become more annoying.

What’s ahead for the future of ad tech?

Among advertisers, the hope is that a third-party player like Amazon will emerge to diffuse the market and keep prices in check. Although, I’m not convinced the tech giant won’t be another Google. The upside is there’s vast, untapped potential for marketers in independent ad tech stacks.

Marketers just have to tap it now, or later they won’t get a choice.

Jeffrey Finch, Co-Founder and CPO, Choozle.

Jeffrey Finch is Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer at Choozle – Easy Digital Advertising®. With nearly 20 years in the digital media space his primary focus has been in the areas of digital advertising, search and social media. He has been a digital marketing and strategy consultant for small to medium-sized businesses for over a decade and has owned and operated several online companies.