The BB Blog: Code of Silence
By: Matt Wasserlauf, CEO and Founder of BLOCKBOARD
I’m a Springnut which is to say I’m a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen. I grew up only a few miles from Bruce’s hometown of Freehold and his music is most definitely the soundtrack of my life. The song that best describes my career in Digital Advertising right now, unfortunately, is Code of Silence.
“There’s a wall between us,” the Boss says. I am a pioneer in the digital advertising business. Over twenty years selling Digital Video. Thirty years in Media. But everyday I turn on Zoom and see black screens of anonymity. At an industry colleague’s funeral last month, the VP of a major brand avoided me. Twitter won’t reveal how many bot accounts they have to my fellow entrepreneur, Elon Musk. This wall stands between us, just like Bruce Springsteen says.
“A river so deep.” In my many attempts to pierce this wall, I’ve tried to cross the moat to start climbing. Many, many times. When I published an Op-Ed on Buzzfeed and named the leading programmatic platform TradeDesk, the article came down inside of 24 hours. Heads of the major agencies have downright insulted me on Zoom calls. Someone asked me if I feared for my life.
“We keep pretending, that’s there’s nothing wrong.” This week, an employee of the largest private ad agency wrote to my company, BLOCKBOARD, and said he was tired after nine years, of lying to his clients. Reports from third parties get doctored every single day, and Tim Hwang’s book, “Subprime Attention Crisis” has laid out this malpractice for all to see.
“It’s a code of silence and it can’t go on.” WORD. As usual, Bruce Springsteen sings the gospel. He has always been the soundtrack of my life. This code of silence certainly can’t go on. The moment of reckoning in Digital Advertising is near and the October 17 court case between Elon Musk and Twitter may be the break it requires to bring all of this into the open.
As a pioneer in this $50 billion business, I’m excited to see this reset. Web3 as it’s called now will bring a whole new level of transparency and accountability and open the road for a new era in our space. Now that gets me excited, because baby, I was Born to Run!