Get out of the GOLDEN CAGE!

One of the key elements in basic business rules is that it’s unwise to work with one or few providers. Eventually you find yourself out of control, in a state of dependency trapped in a “golden cage”, and the learning curve only goes one way and its DOWN. This is what the Digital Advertising Ecosystem is facing, the rise of oligopoly, and the buyers becoming the big losers. Advertisers, especially the strategists and owners need to be conscious about the risks involved working with few media providers that also act as technology partners.



The article is inspired on conclusions from the article: Maximize Walled Gardens Without sacrificing Customer Intelligence (Samatha Merlivat, April 27, 2016 – FORRESTER)


If you are a BRAND advertiser this situation might sound very familiar.

A CMO is working on his DIGITAL video & display marketing plan for next year and need to take some serious decisions. He/She is obviously facing some pain, having to deal with a lot of confusing elements in the digital disruptive era. Now it’s not about media only. There is also DATA involved!


The first part on MEDIA seems to be easy to solve. Cannot imagine that anyone has doubts that the number one & leading media provider in the digital space is Google and that the runners up is the Social Media giant, Facebook. Only with Google and Facebook the advertisers will be assured to get ALL their relevant consumers and prospects attention. Its not that difficult to figure out. Google and Facebook is a safe pick.

Just to make sure that the reader, who I hope is an advertiser, understand that Google and Facebook make their living to assure that you the ADVERTISER spend as much of your budgets on them as possible.


A CMO would reply; “well who cares?! They provide me with results and lets face it, only Google and Facebook are able to make me reach my objectives”


Now if I would be the owner of a large enterprise I would be cautious of the wording; “Ineed to reach my objectives” because the enterprise is not about one single department but rather of the companies future.

In short term, meaning 6 to 18 months there will be a quick gain obviously. Google and Facebook are impressive media providers and will offer immediate gains in the following areas: 


  • Huge traffic source with user friendly platforms and reporting´s.

  • Mobile is on the rise! Google got Android and Facebook has Whats app and Facebook itself has 85% of usage from their APP.

  • Google without any doubt, having login DATA for Google docs and utilities on maps and hundred of other products control perfectly any devise recognitions. Also Facebook figures it out (although its not as precise)

  • Both Facebook and Google has their own buying platforms for audience extension or exposure on other publisher sites (Atlas, DBM)

In other words, check in the box and done!! No brainer!! For a CMO the guarantee to reach his/her objectives is set and on top Google and Facebook provides them with fantastic buying and tracking tools. Only a fool would be adventurous and opt for other solutions.




Let us first of all be a bit suspicious. At least its what life has taught me. When things are too good, just check it twice!


During the last couple of years, the ongoing evolution, creating a neutral and open media auction ecosystem that we have named RTB, has been disrupted by players such as Google and Facebook. The industry calls this phenomenon, “Walled Gardens”. I would rather change the expression to the “Golden Cage concept” and the reason for this is the loss of freedom in utilizing your own DATA, accessing 3rd party sources and having one single tracking system. You are blocked in the cage or what the industry calls silos.


I have explained the importance of DATA and how to use it in the following articles, please read it if you don’t understand the power of 1st party and how important it is for advertisers:


The POWER of 1st party DATA
DATA…..and now what?


Basically DATA is the fuel that makes advertising in Digital channels work. If one does not get access to Data sources or understand + control your own DATA sources, its useless and the advertiser might better go back and spend the marketing budgets on TV, radio or outdoors only.


Google and Facebook seem to have a plan to seduce you Advertisers to be little birds, and trap you into their golden cages.


You will be locked into their management services and have to deal with high operational costs. Not only on one player like Google but also the other guys in the Oligopoly gang, like Facebook, Amazon, Twitter,..

You will also loose the flexibility to understand things over different channels. For sure, Google and Facebook will be able to offer great targeting options with personalized ads, but what about the other players? Don’t forget that the Digital market is a not a few Banyan Trees but rather a big Jungle.


Most dangerous is that you advertiser will become long-term junkies, letting  these actors control your DATA ends in a situation where you will be dependent on their know how around costumer intelligence gathered from your valuable 1st party DATA. Don’t forget that these guys will use this intelligence to sell the most media possible, at the best price and help your competitors to achieve better results. The day you depend on your provider, you as a business is in trouble.


That is why the meaning of MEDIA AGNOSTIC and INDEPENDENT DATA MANAGEMENT PLAFORMs is so important.


Don’t get tempted by quick wins, be brave, control your DATA and don’t get locked into a golden cage. Don’t forget that you are an eagle and not a chicken!! The solution is to work around a way that unifies the Advertisers, Media Agency and Technology vendors. Media is not part of the team because they are and should always be providers and we all know that the more providers there are the better. Don’t let your media partner be your technology vendor to audit your results!


Any advertiser should demand their media partners to allow them to be in control of their own DATA and to be independent. This is good for the whole industry so be part of the movement to FREE THE EAGLE! I can help you to build up your DATA strategy to serve the best ad, to the right audience at the right time. 


Also read more about the Advertiser - Media Agency - Technology vender relation in this ARTICLE


Andreas Akesson, @folQ_DigitalAds





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