"We need to acknowledge that there are darker forces behind the internet than we've ever known, in order to design better work [and] in order to keep ourselves in business," said Chris Clarke, Chief Creative Officer of DigitasLBi, at a recent event in Singapore.
(For more, including case studies on how data can be used for 'good' to boost ad effectiveness, read WARC's exclusive report: The dark side of data – how brands can fight back.)
Clarke pointed to the worrying phenomenon of the "bubble", where personalised search results and social feeds tailored by algorithms make it hard for users to receive a range of views. In his opinion, it’s time for brands to stand up against this.
"As it becomes increasingly impossible to apprehend what's happening in this age of technological change that's sped up so much, it's becoming more difficult to distinguish between what feels good and what's true," he said.
"That is the space we are operating in, and that's the space in which the brands that we advise are operating in."
In these dark times, Clarke called for brands to "stand for light". The industry needs to be on the good side of consumers, he believes, starting with the way it uses programmatic advertising.
"At the moment, the overall response of data driven and programmatic advertising from consumers is overwhelmingly negative," said Clarke, citing a 2014 study by InSkin Media and Rapp Media that showed a correlation between angry consumers and increased frequency of retargeted online ads.
"Because the use of the technology – as an industry, by and large – has been a race to the bottom, it's been about efficiency, [and] it's been about brutally retargeting people in order to get them to return."
Data sourced from WARC