Re: Monopoly law backfires hard
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.” - John Wanamaker
The big advantage of digital channels over traditional media is that answering the above question is very easy. This campaign gave a strong ROI, this campaign gave a weak ROI. That means you either move budget to the campaign with a strong ROI or attempt to improve the lot of the other campaign.
It's possible (and easy) to say "We sell golfing equipment, so we are happy paying more money for ad space on golfingtoday.com than on other sites".
The trend over the past 15 years or so, however, has been to move from purely site-based topic selection (and a lot of consolidation of the major ad brokers over that time into just a few companies) to user-based topic selection. We know that this person is interested in golf and luxury cars, so they probably have more money than they know what to sensibly do with, so let's try ads for expensive whisky as they obviously have no taste.
It's not that basic stuff like the 80/20 rule isn't a thing, it's that the feedback loop on what works and what doesn't work is at most 1 week long and you should never underestimate how quickly things grow in complexity, especially when money is involved.
It's also, frankly, completely wrong to suggest that the privacy invading tracking bullshit doesn't gain us that much. As much as you might like to think we are, we aren't stupid. If it didn't gain us much, we wouldn't use it. When new tech comes along or Google releases a new feature or campaign type, we test it properly and if it doesn't help, we don't use it.
So here's the deal. You can accept that it's more complicated than you think because you aren't in the world day in day out, and I'll admit that I work for an evil industry that aggressively supports the late-stage capitalism dystopia that we're all living in. Okay?