The economic value of brands is eroding
How long can Condé Nast hold the ceiling on the stickiest, most overpriced subscription in publishing...
Now about the real premise of the article - not just that publishers are dead men walking, but that brands are too - because of AI agents will be doing quite a bit of heavy lifting in making choices for us.
1) Your example is pretty exemplary why it won't work like that. You can't seriously ask an AI 'what kind of insurance should I get?' You need to give it all kinds of parameters in order to be able to recommend anything. It won't magically 'know' this.
THIS can be quite influenced..... by advertising by brands. Smart advertising should always set the brand apart on specific metrics that you make clear why its important that this is the metric you go by. The lizzard doesn't do this - but most advertising (at least over here in the UK / EU) does.
2) Publisher functions being overtaken by influencers. To a certain degree - totally.... but simultaneously - we have seen quite the decay in trust of influencers (now 90% of consumers do NOT trust influencers opinions https://www.thedrum.com/news/2023/06/06/nearly-90-consumers-no-longer-trust-influencers-new-study-finds#:~:text=Nearly%2090%25%20of%20consumers%20no%20longer%20trust%20influencers%2C%20new%20study%20finds,-Share)
This type of thing normally is a pendulum - in order to win back opinions of consumers you will likely see more radically open journalism, creating an air of trust etc.
Lastly - do not underestimate how speed of a name jumping into your brain affects how much you trust the source of information. I think publishers have long stood on the ease of having their name jump at you from the newsstand. They will go back to making sure they come in your feed by creating more optimised content (ironically by employing better influencers that help them game that system better.)
This is quite the rewriting of history.
I need to tell this again and again - what ACTUALLY happened was that publishers first were against the internet. Chris Anderson literally wrote a book on this (called 'Free' - how the 0 cost to people would create a deluge in content as there was 0 cost to consuming more)
Then they tentatively went on - and some had great premium space.... But quite quickly the good ones became greedy. They wanted more income, so they diluted their premium space by adding more banner space, then more, then pop-ups, pop-unders, multiple banners on a page etc.
Ad planners were fuming because they suddenly had to tell their client who had sent them a screenshot why they were on the same page with a competitor at the same time.
Simultaneously bad actors were seeing that they could game the system, create shitty pages and without doing really anything get web traffic, put a ton of banners on there, and if they were sure to make the ads load without showing up on the page they would still get paid for each banner.
They focussed on gaming the search index (something publishers did not think about for a LONG time)... so automation was needed to rule out this. We needed to make sure banners were seen, this lead to CPC (cost per click) , which lead to CPL (cost per lead) which eventually lead to performance marketing taking over.
(there is more involved, like ad agencies not wanting to make anything - then making only static banners which were 'matching luggage' with the rest of their campaign, so their campaign metrics would be propped up instead of it actually helping the brand they were promoting... and much more)
But it was not 'the publishers flocked to the internet because they were promised infinite traffic'
That is 100% untrue.