Lot of activity in the advertising technology segment over the last few years. Much of it made (in)famous by Mr. Kawja’s chart.
What these ad tech companies all seem to have in common? They often some version of a better calculator bolted to some serious tech gee whizzery. They all promise more accurate metrics and some sort of optimization, usually price or audience based or both!
(Curious that an industry supposed to be innately quantifiable can support so many companies who essentially count things.)
A charitable take: There is a distinctly 1950s Popular Mechanics-style optimism to the industry, accelerated by the wide-eyed boosterism of blogs like adexchanger and iMediaconnection. The prediction, a friction free utopia. When the technologies get perfected, they tell us, online advertising will run itself, a perpetual motion machine of algorithmic audience targeting, real-time-bidding and performance optimization.
Overly optimistic but basically harmless.
A less charitable take: The industry is rife with hucksterizing, black box peddlers. There are persistent rumors that what is sold as algorithmic is occasionally coders optimizing manually. But this hearsay aside, the too-good-to-be-true sales pitches have more than just an echo of film flam. This scene from from the The Grifters captures it perfectly: