When the cards collapse
Web traffic stats, social media stats… they’re all fake, padded out by an unknowable number of bots, duplicate users and other anomalies. This wouldn’t be a big problem if the economy of the internet wasn’t built on these figures. It’s a web of lies that publishers, advertisers, adtech firms, platforms and others all agree to believe because the alternative is to admit that no-one really knows anything.
And what happens when the house of cards comes crashing down? When some people stop believing? When the big fraud is revealed?
Publishers won’t be able to afford to operate, and social media services’ revenues and stock prices will collapse. But in the long run, all of this is probably for the best, as only by completely burning the current masquerade to the ground will we find the will to explore new, more sustainable business models. But the internet will look very different as a result, and sadly, probably a whole lot less free and open.
The digital world was supposed to give us a precision of media measurement that the analogue world could never match up to. Instead, it’s allowed us to build empires on the shakiest of foundations. Let’s hope 2019 doesn’t bring that recession many fear, eh?