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Why One Exec Thinks Infrastructure Is the Future of Advertising

Hal Conick

Former Droga5 CEO Andrew Essex says that in advertising, “there are many that are hanging onto old models by their fingertips and they’re about to fall off the cliff.” To have a future, he claims, advertisers must think in terms of bridges, not banner ads

Sometime between five minutes and five years from now, advertising as we know it will die. Go and buy the black suit now, writes Andrew Essex in his 2017 book The End of Advertising; the funeral is coming.

The End of Advertising isn’t a eulogy, writes Essex, who is currently the CEO of Tribeca Enterprises. Instead, the book is a reminder of the industry’s mortality, a momento mori—which translates to “remember you must die” from Latin. It’s a hopeful reminder that the advertising we know may perish, but its heir apparent has potential to be prodigious. After all, people will always need to buy, sell and know what’s new. Essex says advertisers should learn from past mistakes rather than repeat them ad infinitum into the industry’s next incarnation.

Customers, en masse, are choosing to essentially never see ads again by downloading ad blocking software. Between December 2015 and December 2016, 142 million people downloaded ad blocking software on desktop and mobile devices, per anti-ad blocking company PageFair. Soon, many browsers will come stocked with ad blockers—Samsung’s Android browser and the Asus browsers already do, while Google is planning an “ad filter” for Chrome starting in 2018.

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Hal Conick

Hal Conick is a staff writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at hconick@ama.org or on Twitter at @HalConick.