The new dot com bubble is here: it's called online advertising -The Correspondent
"For more than a century, advertising was an art, not a science. Hard data didn't exist....In the early 1990s, the internet sounded the death knell for that era of advertising. Today, we no longer live in the age of Mad Men, but of Math Men. Looking for customers, clicks, conversions? Google and Facebook know where to find them. With unprecedented precision, these data giants will get the right message delivered to the right people at the right time...But is any of it real?
What do we really know about the effectiveness of digital advertising? Are advertising platforms any good at manipulating us?....In 2018, more than $273bn dollars was spent on digital ads globally, according to research firm eMarketer. Most of those ads were purchased from two companies: Google ($116bn in 2018) and Facebook ($54.5bn in 2018). An essay by best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari on 'the end of free will' exemplifies the genre: according to the Israeli thinker, it's only a matter of time before big data systems 'understand humans much better than we understand ourselves.'...Facebook knows your soul. Google is hacking your brain....The benchmarks that advertising companies use - intended to measure the number of clicks, sales and downloads that occur after an ad is viewed - are fundamentally misleading....In seven of the 15 Facebook experiments, advertising effects without selection effects were so small as to be statistically indistinguishable from zero. Now we arrive at perhaps the most fundamental question: what, in the end, is there really to know in advertising? Can advertisers ever know exactly what their ad brings in? Google CEO Eric Schmidt told his TV colleague Mel Karmazin that when it comes to online advertising, that question was easy to answer. Lewis went on to work for Schmidt, but research he conducted for Yahoo! in 2011 puts the lie to that claim. The title of his paper: On the near impossibility of measuring the returns to advertising."