Paul Bannister walked into a trap.
Well, trap is too strong a word. If you're invited to the podcast don't worry, I'm not trying to trap you. I really just mean I was hyping myself up for a debate. And Paul is one of the first guests where I knew I had a philosophic disagreement.
The disagreement is my mistrust/leeriness towards "publisher monetization partners". You know the Monetize More's, and Freestar's, and CafeMedia's of the world. On one hand, I totally understand that not all small/mid-sized publishers have the resources to hire someone like me to handle their ad setup. On the other hand, the pressure to make margin can cause perverse incentives between what is best for the publisher/user and what it best for these monetization partners.
It's worth noting, I'm a giant hypocrite. My own podcast partner (who is probably reading this post in horror) runs a publisher monetization type company. I've yet to trap him. And if I'm being 100% honest, my feelings aren't even specific to CafeMedia. They're a holdover of various other companies that occupied a similar space.
Anyway, so I went into this week's episode fully expecting to walk out feeling the way I came in. I had no doubts Paul was smart (very, intimidatingly, smart) but I had my doubts as to the need for his company or companies like his in the industry.
Then we started talking and I realized... shit I might be wrong. I still don't love the incentive structure and am generally distrustful of anyone getting between a publisher and their money. But in our conversation about the W3C it became crystal clear to me that when it comes to privacy and getting into these nitty-gritty details... CafeMedia, Media Tradecraft, a few others... these partners may actually be our industry's best hope.
Let's be honest. Most publishers aren't rolling in extra engineering resources. It's often one of the rev ops team's biggest pain points. So then who is going to have the resources to go through dozens of github conversations and in-the-weeds conversations around the browser privacy controls and actually stand up for publisher interests? Facebook, Google, and Amazon can easily spare a few megabrains. Ad exchanges can too. But publishers?
Enter Cafe fucking Media.
Anyway, I don't want to give too much away but this was a fantastic conversation and if you don't have any idea what the W3C is or why you should care... it's worth the 30 minutes of your life. And you should definitely be following Paul on Twitter. It'll wrinkle your brain.