Digital advertising started with people putting banners on websites and targeting users based on what sites they were on. These sites had audiences people trusted, so they wanted to reach them. Then Google and other companies invented audience-based buying, which was all about cookies. Advertisers could find moms interested in buying cars, for example, and target them everywhere on the internet, no matter the site. That carried on for 15 years.
Now there’s starting to be pushback on that model from big brands. You have random, long-tail sites with 25 visits per month that may or may not be brand-safe, and brands like JPMorgan Chase are saying: “No. We want to only be on a few thousand sites, if that.” Because of that, brands are shifting back to buying from premium, curated, real publishers that have an editorial voice, instead of just putting a box on the corner of a random webpage.