The chart showed that the percentage of time we were spending online was increasing hugely, but the percentage of ad dollars wasn’t close to catching up yet. “This will obviously correct over time,” the Yahoo executive would say, and Yahoo was the biggest trove of eyeballs on the Web, hence Yahoo would benefit. Ta da! There was no problem. It was just a matter of time–if everyone would wait a few years, it would happen on its own.
So we waited.
And nearly a decade later, and we’re still waiting. In fact, in corners of the Valley, you still hear the same sad, hopeful argument.
It’s time we faced it: Digital ad spend is nowhere close to reflecting the amount of time we spend online. Move to plan B, Internet economy, because this one just isn’t happening on its own.
That’s because there was a fundamental flaw in the Silicon Valley premise that anyone on Madison Avenue could explain: Attention doesn’t equal a good advertising opportunity. That has never been the case in the offline world, so it’s perplexing that the brightest minds in Silicon Valley would think all eyeballs are equal. Since when did an hour with a magazine get priced on the same scale as a 3 second drive-by of a billboard?"