The Great Ad Hack

great-hack-netflix-1564144457The other evening, I watched the Netflix documentary “The Great Hack.” It chronicles how big tech is taking our data, that we freely give away online, by both making money with our information and manipulating us.

The documentary makes one realize there’s a lot for us to be worried about.


Data Privacy

In an internet connected world, do we have any secrets? Everything about us is being stored, as we share our information via social networks, our credit card companies, our banks, our medical services – just about everyone we interact with online.

During the course of the documentary, professor David Carroll tries to see his data points as collected by Cambridge Analytica. Spoiler Alert: Professor Carroll wins a lengthy court case to obtain his data points. Cambridge Analytica never produces them but instead paid a fine and plead guilty for failing to do so. Not producing the data points was more important than revealing what they knew about Professor Carroll and giving the world an inside look at what they know about each of us.

Now Cambridge Analytica is liquidating to prevent anyone from ever seeing the data points they collected on anyone.

Our data privacy has always been important, but we’ve traded our privacy for speed and convenience in our internet connected world. The documentary points out that collecting and using our data points is a trillion dollar business that last year saw data surpass oil in value, making data the most valuable asset on earth.

The Persuadables

What Cambridge Analytica did was target people whose minds they felt they could change for the purposes of winning elections for their clients. In the military, such a tool is called Black Ops or False Flag tactics. Its psychological warfare used to induce confessions or reinforce attitudes and behaviors favorable to the user’s objectives.

Cambridge Analytica knew they didn’t need to change everyone’s mind, just a critical mass of people to achieve their client’s objectives.

Why did they do it? They wanted to make money, lots and lots and lots of money.

Advertising is Propaganda

The advertising “mad men” of Madison Avenue came from the propaganda operations of the United States military during World War Two. They took what they learned and applied it to selling cars, refrigerators, homes, soap etc. Great advertising seeks to persuade the reader, listener or viewer to buy a product or use a service.

Is it any surprise to anyone that as social media was born, these same methods would be applied to this platform, only on a level that was not possible through traditional media?

“These platforms that were created to connect us are now being weaponized,” says Carole Cadwalladr, investigative reporter for The Observer newspaper. “It’s impossible to know what is what, because nothing is as it seems,” she adds.

Tech Giants Crush Ad Market

Sara Fischer writes in Axios that the big tech companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon are consuming more advertising revenue than most other ad supported media combined. The reason? They have our data points and know how to effectively use them to get us to do what they want. You can read Sara’s full article HERE.

The eMarketer and Zenith Media data as graphed by Axios Visuals really shows where things are headed. (see below)

Screen Shot 2019-07-30 at 3.36.05 PM

Can Traditional Media Win?

The playing field today is so unlevel, it begs the question, if traditional media – newspapers, magazines, radio, television – can even have a fighting chance to win advertising dollars.

As a consumer, do you think you stand a chance to not be influenced by the tech giants when they are using your own information against you?

I encourage you to go deeper in this subject by both watching the Netflix documentary “The Great Hack” and reading Sara Fischer’s column “Tech Giants Still Crush the Ad Market Despite Looming Threats.”

Then I hope you will share your thoughts in the comments section of this blog article.

The future of our world is being shaped by the lack of data privacy.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

5 responses to “The Great Ad Hack

  1. Authenticity still resonates with Many. More challenge to demo that but Most worthy of the effort. Thank you, DT!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John Demeter

    I believe that if a radio station programs to its local market it could not fail. Regional and national advertising may take a hit but local business would fill in the gaps. Local support always is the engine that drives the local radio station. Formats changed but the radio station keeping the local image always came out on top. It worked for me for 42 years in the business and in several markets. In my mind it’s local, local, local.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ken Dardis

      With respect John, what exactly is it that radio can do which can’t be done on the internet within seconds? It’s time to put to rest the ruse of “compelling programming,” “local content,” and personalities. Radio is in a “Format of Your Life” mode.

      The warnings of what Dick wrote about have been around for two decades. These are just some of my observations, which I was chastised for saying back then:

      Nov. 9, 2000 – “Then, there are ‘Sellphone’ ads – using GPS – that target your walk down the street. The market is set to explode to $750 million by 2005… so be warned, wireless [cellphone] ads are coming to either entice you to buy or steal away your clients.”

      March 31, 2003 – “Like millions of educated people across America you’ve probably increased time spent online, the number of sites visited, and the credibility you give to what is found online. You have become an habitual net user. Don’t think advertisers haven’t noticed.”

      Oct. 10, 2005 – “‘Online’ has become synonymous with ‘information’ and, as this becomes apparent to more local businesses, look for their advertising dollars to move there with greater speed.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank You John. I believe that station’s that have invested in their local community will continue to enjoy its support.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s