Ben Young
Ben Young
April 26, 2024

Edition #446

Whopper of a week on news, third party cookies, TikTok, and the return of the dead internet theory.

A massive week for news, still digesting but we’ll get into it. If you haven’t played with Llama3 at all, you should, it’s pretty good (on par with the others) and fast. I’d say Meta is in the AI race. Not that they weren’t, but this is good, and open source. You can play with it over at and locally via LMStudio, which is fun.

To my surprise, Google is delaying the third party cookie demise, to allow for more time and feedback from the market. Hats off to Alex Cone, who is the spokesperson on the front line at Google handling the charge. I’m sure it hasn’t been a fun week. Seb from Digiday has it framed up well, satirically, water remains wet.

And proving that a broken watch is right twice a day, my chat on TikTok on AdExchanger a while back around the regulatory risk of TikTok proves right as Biden signs a ban into law. But will we see a divestiture?

My take, China has outlawed the sale of the algorithm. And yes the algorithm is good, but the hard part is making it from scratch, I’m sure any solid team could rebuild it. I mean Meta was able to quickly swap to an unconnected content model to boost Instagram and defend against TikTok.

A place to look to is India where TikTok has been banned for a while, there, Snap saw a lift.

Do check out Brian O’Kelleys piece, and Aris podcast on DSPs are what you feed them. i.e. DSPS are market feedback machines, if you feed them with requests for quality, they’re going to optimize for that. The other one is this, kinda morbid but intellectually interesting – dead internet theory.

“There’s been a popular theory floating around conspiracy circles for about seven or eight years now. It’s called the “Dead Internet” theory, and its main argument is that the organic, human-created content that powered the early web in the 1990s and 2000s has been usurped by artificially created content, which now dominates what people see online. Hence, the internet is “dead” because the content most of us consume is no longer created by living beings (humans).”

I think we’ll soon be measuring, how much attention time in a day was fulfilled by AI interactions. It’ll start, at 1-2%, then grow steadily from there. If not already at a meaningful percentage.

Notable stories this week

  • Best Buy and CNET partner to enhance customer shopping journey.
  • HubSpot launches new gen AI-powered Content Hub.
  • Newsletter platform Ghost adopts ActivityPub to ‘bring back the open web’.
  • Local journalism tax credits included in 2025 N.Y. state budget.
  • Elephants never forget. Buffalos never forgive. And AdTech never learns to put the consumer first.
  • Taboola launches Taboola Select.
  • Google delays third party cookie demise yet again.
  • TikTok ban gets signed into law.
  • ByteDance’s web of apps could get tangled up in TikTok ban.
  • X is coming back to smart Tvs.
  • The rise of ‘Grid Zero’: why more Instagram users are hiding their profile.
  • Zuck on how unconnected content helped them catch up with TikTok.
  • A new Reddit in the making.
  • How TikTok censors relative to Instagram.
  • Meta stock sinks on weak forecast.
  • Threads offers Creators $500 to post about ‘positivity’.
  • A TikTok ban would crater the creator economy.
  • An open letter to the advertising punditry. From Brian O’Kelley.
  • Inside WPP’s AI brand hub – how marketers can experiment and what’s next.
  • Amazon Ads, Reddit and MTV are 2024 Digiday Content Marketing Award finalists.
  • Industry flirts with making the Possible conference a must-attend tentpole event.
  • ^ And Brian has a good summary of the event if you’re considering going next year.
  • Snapchat has inked 14 partners for post-swipe ads.
  • Google Chrome IP masking could radically impact search advertising.
  • Publishers reeling from carbon emissions ‘shakedown’.
  • GumGum merges Playground xyz’s APAC media business.
  • Buyers are wasting money on Alt IDs while cookies still persist.
  • Subscription hopping is the new channel surfing.
  • From a tiny island in Maine, he serves up fresh media gossip.
  • Impact Media launched last week, their thread.
  • WSJ among Dow Jones brands joining Ozone’s UK audience alliance.
  • Palantir is pitching ad agencies on its AI technology.
  • MFA sites aren’t going anywhere until there are incentives to end them. Related, Feed DSPs what they eat.
  • Google Search boss warns employees of ‘new operating reality’ urges them to move faster.
  • How Meta factors in customer drop-off rate into its auction.
  • Is the ‘Dead Internet’ theory suddenly coming true? This could be a sign.
  • We need to rewild the internet.
  • [Long read] Distribution is king.
  • [Long read] The man who killed Google Search.
  • [From us] On MMM’s.


  • Warner Music Group sells Uproxx.
  • Essence’s parent to buy Refinery29 from Vice Media.
  • Jim Vandehel writes that Mathias Dopfner of Axel Springer and Henry Kravis (KKR) approached him to purchase Axios for $400m and buy Politico.

Campaign of the week

  • NYTimes + Paramount, partner up to highlight the live streams of 7 national parks across the US. Great piece, good exposure and for a good cause, Earth Day.

View all 2024 best campaigns.

Smartest commentary

  • “If Trade Desk wants to grow their top line, they have to drive real performance when the advertiser does the math at the end of the year. From the point of view of the marketer, Trade Desk is a synonym for programmatic. And when these stories come out, do you know what Trade Desk does? They point at all of their independent efforts to clean up the ecosystem and then they point at their return on ad spend and say “don’t worry.”Brian O’Kelley.
  • “Google is delaying the end of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser — again. In other unsurprising developments, water remains wet.”Seb Joseph, Digiday.

Datapoints of note

  • Refinery29 earned about $50m in revenue more recently. Down from when it was acquired by Vice.
  • Over half of Americans have used generative AI and most believe it will help them be more creative.
  • Amazon Ads grew 24% YOY.

View all 2024 datapoints of note.

That’s it for this week.