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Have you been at an industry event and said, “We’re not saving lives, it’s just media” and then cackled over a burrito or a glass of wine with your fellow digitalites? It’s ok, I think I did it last week. Fueled by some guilt after meeting a surgeon and comparing my Tuesday to theirs.

The rap has gotten pretty bad for ads lately. Perhaps we don’t save lives, but ADVERTISING POWERS A FREE & ACCESSIBLE WEB. Are there things to clean up? Oh yes, many. But as the ad hate-ometer is registering all-time highs it’s a good time to check in on the importance of advertising in fueling equal access to information, regardless of wealth or position. As one of my favorite colleagues put it, “Without an ad supported web, content (and especially news) behind paywalls become another prize for the rich. Further pushing people to low cal misinformation.”

My Aunt Gayle likes to corner me at Thanksgiving and tell me that the pop-ups on her recipe sites are absolute trash. To her credit, they likely are… so clean it up, please. To someone like her, however, advertising was once a coveted leader of pop culture and adored content. So what happened and where do we go from here?

The past was a bit simpler. Take an idea, build a cinema-like trailer, pay a heap of money to feature it in a primetime TV spot, reap the benefit of your creative prowess on repeat for the next year… maybe 2.  We weren’t ready for the boom of digital. The innovation was grand, but the beast was bigger than we knew how to control and we are still cleaning up some of our mess. 

The past is the past and it’s time to look ahead. The beauty in all of this? You can help nourish the meaningful role advertising will continue to play in the world. How? Make it better. The industry continues to focus on cleaning up the data & supply pipelines. I’m a strong believer that the next digital frontier is creative, where we’ve put far too little energy over the last half decade.

A good mentor once told me… “whatever you do, do it well.” So regardless of your role, remember that you play an integral part in the access of information, the joy of content, and the future of a functioning free world. Maybe we do save lives?

It’s a noble cause and one worth waking up for. Keep fighting the good fight for quality. The industry (and the world) will thank you.  In the meantime, if you attended the golf outing last week, I hope that you had a blast! If any balls came whizzing by your cart, It was Skyler!