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When Konrad Feldman, an expert in AI, started looking into the advertising industry he was shocked. He didn’t know much about advertising, but he did know about big data and AI. He was so taken aback because of the lack of accuracy in targeting ads. If two, quite different people, visited the same web site they got the same ads.

 

It was this insight that led to Mr Feldman forming Quantcast, a tech firm that is disrupting digital advertising around the world.

 

Google and a Facebook have enjoyed their years of dominance thanks to targeting. They are able to help advertisers target their ads more accurately than was ever possible before.

 

Their duopoly is dominating digital advertising bringing in bucks significantly out of proportion with what you would expect given how much time we spend on other web sites. In the US they enjoy around three quarters of digital advertising and around 60 per cent in the UK.

 

What the likes of Quantcast are trying to do is change this, enable publishers to apply AI to target their ads with a degree of precision once only available to the two tech giants.

 

A new opportunity is emerging – caught up in fears over fake news and the internet filter bubble, Facebook and Google no longer seem so invincible.

 

Now Unilever has entered the fray, threatening to boycott Facebook and Google with its advertising.

 

Keith Weed, chief marketing officer at Unilever said recently that the two tech firms are “little better than a swamp”. He added: “As one of the largest advertisers in the world, we cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online. 

 

“We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain – one that delivers over a quarter of our advertising to our consumers – which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency.

 

“It is in the digital media industry’s interest to listen and act on this. Before viewers stop viewing, advertisers stop advertising and publishers stop publishing.”