Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

“Mad Men” (Ad) Spoiler: Sex, Violence, Display Advertising Technology

The advertising technology landscape is so confusing that lots of people in the industry are confused about who does what. So here’s one way to stand out: Run a 30-second ad on the season finale of “Mad Men,” like Turn is doing tonight.


So now that you’ve seen it, do you understand who Turn is, or what they do? If you’re in ad tech, you probably already did. They’re one of a handful of very-well-funded “demand-side platforms” that help ad buyers negotiate various ad exchanges. Google bought one of these a couple of years ago, and everyone is trying to figure out what will happen to the rest.

But if you’re not in ad tech, like nearly everyone who watches “Mad Men,” Turn’s ad won’t mean anything to you.

I guess that makes it like the ads that conglomerates like ADM or Lockheed used to run on Sunday-morning political shows. They were only relevant for a handful of viewers — the people who write or influence laws — but the ad guys were reasonably assured that most of that handful would be watching.

Presumably, this is exactly the kind of imprecise targeting that Turn is supposed to fix. But, whatever, I’m writing about it here.

Totally unrelated note: I’m not a huge “Mad Men” fan*, but even a quick glance at this ad shows you just how seriously the “Mad Men” casting and production people take their jobs. The Turn ad instantly evokes “Mad Men,” but it also looks nothing like “Mad Men,” and if I was in production, I could articulate why. So I can just say that it looks … off. Definitely not period. Especially the blonde.

Still reading? You like this stuff. Go see more here, including an “alternate ending” version that’s pretty clever.

*I like reading about “Mad Men” more than I enjoy watching it. Meanwhile, I’m pretty psyched for just about any kind of reality-TV cooking competition, no matter how silly (see: MasterChef Season 3**). But I have zero desire to read about those shows.

**Best TV villain of the summer: Joe Bastianich, again.


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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”