AI Agents

Don't Care

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Ads won't matter in the AI era

Overheard at ON_Discourse

Overheard at ON_Discourse

Editor’s note: We don’t know how else to describe it; this perspective was sort of blurted out in the middle of a lunch event dedicated to algorithms. The provocation was so strong it threatened to derail the original theme of the event. Does that sound like a bad thing? We loved it so much we dedicated a member-event to this question. Will ads matter in the AI era?

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The business side of advertising is stuck in the same conventional conversation. Every meeting I have with clients is still focused on channels and inventories as if the whole internet is not about to dramatically change. It’s like redecorating the interiors of the Titanic.


Let me lay it out:

  • Today’s Internet is ad-sponsored
  • The social platforms are human history’s most efficient channel for all that inventory my clients are still talking about
  • AI is going to upend this entire ecosystem
  • The hyper-personalized algorithms will be replaced by hyper-personalized AI service agents
  • The agents will redirect a huge segment of that collective attention with service, not social media content
  • What good are ads to AI agents?

This is where we need to convene more discourse. The solutions to this problem are theoretical and varied. I have heard a fellow executive speculate on a potential new course:

If you reduce your dependency on actual advertising, but start thinking about other ways to actually make money from the communities you create, like experiences. Do you then work with a direct marketer with an ability not just to offer advertising, but can also facilitate experiences and facilitate commerce? Those models begin to be interesting.

This concept intrigues me but it is just the start of an idea. Channel and inventory don’t apply to networks and communities. Now the conventional conversations are talking about different ways of budgeting, organizing, and financing. Is it worth it? Is it worth it not to try?