The Internet Is for Upstarts

As said, The Internet Is For Porn and Direct Marketing.

And for upstarts.

Internet advertising has been around for a quarter of a century and it has created no discernible brands in any category, as Bob Hoffman rightly pointed out.

That’s hardly surprising. The banner ad is the worst advertising format ever.

Those who like to blame Ad Tech for everything say that, if only banner ads were not targeted, they would carry a signal, and could contribute to the emergence of brands.

Not so.

The format sucks. You can’t tell a story. It’s the same format on The New York Times and on your cousin’s website. Internet users are flooded with way too many banner ads.

There are more problems that need to be solved than some would like to think.


On the other hand, to say that the Internet has created no brands is not true.

Away, Glossier and Warby Parker are huge hits.

I’m sure there a quite a few more mid-level brands that made it.

This is what the Internet is for, apart from porn and direct marketing.

It’s a shitty, distributed, low-cost Kickstarter to help small companies emerge.

Then, if they ever make it, they will start doing real advertising.


Real advertising means offline.

Like the Big FANG. Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google.

Do the big brand you work for a favour: act like a grown-up.

Like the Big FANG, not like some small company operating in a basement.

Do real advertising, not the tricks the small guys do to get noticed.

Don’t make your brand look dumb just because you want to look cool.

I know, I know…

I know, we were all hoping for better things for this child of ours, the Internet.

Some hoped it would spread knowledge. Not fake news.

Somebody else said it was “unconceivable that we should allow so great a possibility for service… to be drowned in advertising chatter”. No, that was not Tim Berners-Lee.*

But porn, direct marketing and helping upstarts get a breakthrough is not too bad.

* It was Herbert Hoover, then US Secretary of Commerce, speaking about radio, in 1922.

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