The Big Story: Ad Tech’s Carbon Footprint And Elon’s Twitter Takeover

The Big Story podcast

In its history, Twitter’s advertising business has experienced a few ups and numerous big downs.

But now the platform is being bought by someone who is vocally hostile to advertising and who doesn’t run advertising to promote his own product. We’re talking about Elon Musk, of course, and his $44 billion bid to own Twitter.

If, muses Senior Editor James Hercher on this week’s episode, social platforms like Facebook are theme parks where every last bit of fun can be monetized, from the concessions to the line-skipping pass to the souvenirs, then Twitter is more like an impromptu rave. In other words, even pre-Elon, it’s been hard to translate its passionate audience engagement into cold hard cash from advertisers.

Zooming out, though, if Musk is able to successfully take ownership of Twitter, the move could point an even brighter regulatory spotlight on Big Tech as a whole.

We’ve seen a similar dynamic play out in the ad tech industry: When politicians turn up the heat on digital advertising, the industry as a whole tends to get burned. Musk’s move, and his bold takes on free speech, have attracted raves from Republicans and rants from Democrats.

In the second half of the episode, we explore the carbon footprint of programmatic advertising. Advertisers can now run the numbers on how much carbon their ad campaigns generate.

Think about it like this: Supply path optimization efforts can be quantified not just in terms of the number of connections pruned, but how many emissions were prevented. Of course, this being tech, there are startups cropping up to help brands make their advertising green, including a new venture launched by one of the inventors of programmatic itself.

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