I’ll be talking shortly to some readers of The Intention Economy who are looking for ways to connect that economy with advertising. (Or so I gather. I’ll know more soon.) What follows is the gist of what I wrote to them in prep for the call.
Both are still valid (IMHO), but don’t yet cover what A.I. will inevitably do to advertising. There are two possible ways that can go.
One is toward hyper-personalized advertising based on even more pernicious uninvited tracking than we already have, with A.I.s rather than lawyers and hired intermediaries finding loopholes in privacy law that will automate specious forms of “consent” far more efficiently than possible without it.
The other is toward finding the best vectors for targeting the right audiences rather than the most-tracked individuals—and to find those amidst the millions of podcasts, newsletters, blogs, mainstream media, and other online outlets into the ever-widening world of thought, opinion, news, scholarship, journalism, sports, and the rest of it.
The former will make tracking and personalized targeting far worse, and the latter will make advertising targeted at audiences far better. It will also do a much better job of supporting journalism in the process because more money can get through to publishers and reporters who won’t be fed by an evil hand they avoid biting.
Those two directions are the chaff-vs-wheat choices for A.I.’s future in advertising. For now, there is surely far more action happening with the former than with the latter, given the sizes of today’s spinning adtech flywheels. But this also means there will be bigger opportunities with the latter: a blue ocean away from the red one.
What makes the intention economy ocean blue is that it will exist almost entirely outside both those advertising systems—and inside horizons that are far more expansive than can be seen through the lens of advertising and marketing as we’ve known them.
Here the opportunities will be in creating better signaling from demand to supply, and better intermediation between them: forms that will safeguard the privacy needs of individuals and the legitimate needs of businesses. In some cases there will be no intermediation at all—just forms of agency on both sides that are friendly to each other and can interact directly. And, where intermediations are required, they will find a wide-open space for what we’ve long called fourth parties.
To visualize the opportunities here, think of every customer as a boat afloat on a sea of goods and services, and friendly to the ecosystems where demand encourages supply at least as well as supply satisfies demand.
If you’re looking for market opportunities in this vast new ocean, here are thirteen of them.