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>You would only do business with companies you trust to not cheat.

That massively increases the barrier to entry. Right now you can make a new site, sign up with an ad network, and start showing ads. No one involved needs to trust you (much) since the ad network is in a good position to detect cheating. Remove that, and big trusted publishers (NYT, FB, Google) are still fine, but smaller ones wouldn't be able to demonstrate to the ad network or advertiser that they should be trusted.

> Or just charge flat rates.

Adverse selection will kill you.

> Right now you can make a new site, sign up with an ad network, and start showing ads.

With the tiny payout you get from Adsense, unless your site is really popular to begin with, you're not going to make much of anything. Pennies maybe (which you won't receive until hitting a threshold anyway). So I don't see how it helps with entry.

By the time your service is popular enough to make real money you could approach smaller brands and advertisers to get better deals than Adsense.

Adsense exists to make ads cheaper for the advertisers and there's no way around the fact that that means content producers will be making less money as a whole. You can't have it both ways. It's lowering the amount that advertisers are willing to pay content creators by giving them the perception that their money stretches further, aided by online tracking and targeting. Meanwhile Google caches in on their cut of the deal and all of the piles of data they collect with their monopoly while content producers get shafted.

AdSense and other networks primarily exist to automate matchmaking. Publishers and advertisers can already find each other, but this requires a lot of work. By automating this work, it can make more money for publishers (in aggregate) and make things cheaper for advertisers at the same time.

My understanding of your argument is that no publisher should be using Adsense etc today, and they should all be negotiating direct deals instead, is that right? What would you say to publishers (and I've talked to many) who are happy to have the "collect bids from people who want to advertise on my site" portion automated for them so they can focus on running their sites?

(Still speaking only for myself)

I'm not saying that there aren't content producers who want that or would benefit from it. I'm saying that they probably won't make as much money that way. And if the only way to do it is to use pervasive tracking and digital surveillance (which users are increasingly blocking and lawmakers are becoming skeptical about) then it's a business model on unstable ground to begin with.

My experience, especially with media content producers, is that those ad platforms are never sufficient and it's always advisable to rely on partnerships or Patreon. Because, yeah, it's more work to create those relationships, but the alternative is relying on a low-revenue platform where a small update from the whims of Google might destroy you without warning.

Yes. Arguing that online advertising should be like traditional advertising (killing the adtech industry of today) means accepting that a ton of money will flow from small players to the bigger players, and into more insidious forms of ads (video overlays, native ads posing as news). But it’s a tradeoff I’m more than happy to accept.

> Right now you can make a new site, sign up with an ad network

and spend the next two weeks delivering explanation after explanation to the ad networks and Google that you are indeed a real person/company and indeed created a site with unique content and indeed plan to generate leads, etc, etc.

After two weeks of back and forth you are approved by Google only to be indefinitely temporarily blocked for "additional traffic verification" in a couple of days despite purchasing only the best traffic for start of the site.

> smaller ones wouldn't be able to demonstrate to the ad network or advertiser that they should be trusted

It is already very, very complicated and is rapidly getting close to impossible.

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