In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Roundtable on Digital Advertising: Part I
  • Finn Brunton (bio), Brad Kay (bio), Nick Law (bio), Hairong Li (bio), Cynthia B. Meyers (bio), Barry Wacksman (bio), William M. O’Barr (bio), and Edward Timke (bio)

Big Data, digital advertising, media convergence, niche audiences, technology

Video 1.

Roundtable on Digital Advertising, Part I.

Advertising & Society Quarterly’s first roundtable centered its discussion on the definitions and implications of the term “digital advertising.” Since the birth of the Internet in the 1990s and the advent of smartphones and social media platforms in the mid-2000s, participants agreed that digital advertising exemplifies the industry’s ability to adapt its tactics and approaches in a changing media and technology environment. Further, participants stated that gone is the day of selling to a mass audience and hoping broad advertising messages resonate with diverse segments of society. Rather, what makes “digital” powerful is its ability to target niche audiences with tailored messages through their desired media platforms using the significant amount of data about them. By the end of the conversation, however, there were concerns over the use of data. Consumers sometimes do not know that they are “talking back” to companies as they leave their digital footprints; and if they do know, they might not realize how much companies know about them. Moreover, targeted messaging based on sophisticated data analysis may be leading to fragmentation and isolation of consumers and segments of society. In the end, Part I of the Roundtable on Digital Advertising concludes that integrated devices and data-driven technologies have wrought many positive changes in advertising, but what it all means for companies, consumers, and society is yet to be determined.

Part II of the Roundtable on Digital Advertising appears in ASQ 18.2.

The Editors thank Barry Wacksman for arranging the filming of this Roundtable at R/GA, New York.

Finn Brunton

Finn Brunton ( is a scholar of the relationships between society, culture, and information technology—how we make technological decisions, and deal with their consequences. He focuses on the adoption, adaptation, modification, and misuse of digital media and hardware; privacy, information security, and encryption; network subcultures; hardware literacy; and obsolete and experimental media platforms.

He is the author of Spam: A Shadow History of the Internet (MIT Press, 2013), along with numerous articles and talks. Brunton received an MA from the European Graduate School (Saas-Fee, Switzerland) and a PhD from the University of Aberdeen’s Centre for Modern Thought. Prior to his NYU appointment, he was Assistant Professor of Information at the University of Michigan’s School of Information.

Brad Kay

Brad Kay is President and Partner of SS+K, an advertising agency that combines a strong mission-based ethic with the edge that comes from working with top marketers.

Brad advises management teams, from global brands to early startups, on how to market in a social world now defined by highly networked, empowered audiences. He oversees key client relationships, business development, operations and finance, the innovation lab, and talent acquisition and retention.

Since his return 6 years ago, Brad and his partners have generated year-over-year, double-digit growth in revenue and profit, and added notable clients including HBO, E*TRADE, Starbucks, Wells Fargo, The New Yorker, FreshDirect, SiriusXM, Jackson Hewitt, Jet, JW Marriott, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Smile Train, among others. This is Brad’s second tour of duty with the firm. He first joined SS+K in 1994 and stayed through 1998.

SS+K is probably best known for its award-winning work for HBO GO, Honest Tea, and President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. The firm’s recent momentum has been punctuated by 5 Cannes Gold Lions, 11 One Show Pencils (6 Gold), 7 ANDYs (4 gold) and an Effie.

Nick Law

As Vice Chairman and Global Chief Creative Officer, Nick guides R/GA’s strategic and creative vision. He partners with the agency’s senior clients to ensure that R/GA...