Today, I pulled the trigger and upgraded my iMac to macOS Big Sur 11.3.

The good news? It didn’t take as long as I thought it would.

The not-so-good news? I’m not sure whose benefit most of the changes are for. On balance so far, I get the impression that the majority are for Apple rather than myself.

Mind you, this isn’t a new thing. The last few macOS upgrades have felt like this, lots of new features added, very few of which are of much use to me. And I’ve had similar feelings when using Windows 10.

With the exception of desktop wallpaper, there is very little ability nowadays to make your computer more aesthetically pleasing. Which is a crying shame when you look at how, well, flat both Windows and macOS have become.

When I tried out Linux Mint last year, I was shocked at just how customisable it is! In comparison, Windows and macOS feel like fossils, albeit very shiny ones.

I don’t think it’s a lack of resources or talent, but rather a lack of will on the part of both Microsoft and Apple. The beans have been counted, it appears, and making computers feel personal is clearly not a profitable endeavour.

And that saddens me greatly.

The computer is only ‘personal’ in the sense that there’s a person who bought said computer. But in reality it’s an Apple/Microsoft/Dell/HP/whoever-sold-it-to-you computer, and you’re to use it as they and their partners intend and be duly grateful.

The State of Digital Advertising

Last year PwC investigated where the money goes in digital advertising, at the behest of the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA).  This wasn’t an easy task, as a single programmatic ad placement can involve 20 different players, each taking a cut.

PwC found that a whopping half (49%) of digital ad spending is syphoned off before it reaches publishers.  They tracked spending to agencies, demand exchanges, supply exchanges, and a slew of ad tech vendors.  But most alarmingly, 15% of digital ad spending, a third of what gets syphoned off, is a complete mystery.  Even through an audit, PwC couldn’t account for where it went.

This 50/50 split of “non-working” and “working” dollars in digital media echoes the famous observation from 19th century retailer, John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

And the 51% that actually reaches publishers has its own host of problems, including bot fraud.  The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) estimates that ad fraud will become the biggest market for organized crime by 2025.

This is totally bonkers, and brings to mind the words of WOPR from the end of the film WarGames: “a strange game … the only winning move is not to play.”

“What if marketers allocated a portion of their media spending directly to publishers… They will run your ads for you — just like in 1995. The marketer could conceivably pay far less overall dollars AND the publisher would definitely get multiples more dollars.”

Augustine Fou

“As we all chased the Holy Grail of digital, self-included, we were relinquishing too much control — blinded by shiny objects, overwhelmed by big data, and ceding power to algorithms.”

Marc Pritchard, CMO of P&G

Hmm, cutting out middlemen… maybe it is time we got back to doing that.