“Cutting out the middleman” is a phrase thrown around endlessly across the consumer industry, often without much thought. Particularly catalyzed by the direct-to-consumer and digitally-native brand boom, the concept transformed from a boring technical term into a buzzword that defined the entire contemporary era of brand building. But, like many buzzwords, the definition lacks depth.

Back in 2016, I wrote a piece called “Cutting out the middleman” that dove into both the complexity and the fallacy of the phrase. I put forth the idea that middlemen are not inherently bad, and pointed out that to truly remove them from the process requires taking on everything from harvesting raw materials (replacing fiber production) to delivering the package to the end consumer (replacing UPS and FedEx). Surely, no one in favor of cutting out the middleman really meant this; focusing on so many things would leave no time to focus on anything at all, rendering the brand worthless.

That piece—and the industry’s focus on the term—centered on back-end middlemen, primarily the wholesale channel. But since then, front-end middlemen have become a growing concern that fewer people are paying attention to, though the results might be even more problematic.

While many said that wholesale was the middleman to cut from the process, Facebook is the ultimate middleman wreaking increasing havoc on consumer brands. From 2012-2016, the average price per ad is up 9.6x (and up 35% from January-September 2017) and there are few signs that this rate will slow, especially since the company’s January announcement of a News Feed overhaul, which will prioritize content from friends and families over professional news publications and brands. For brands, this newly limited reach means they are set to pay more money for less attention.

Middlemen exist in every industry, especially when it includes selling physical products, which are complex and rely on global supply chains. “Owning the customer relationship,” a sought-after goal for brands, still requires building it via advertising and press, which brands cannot control. Maintaining this relationship often happens through email or social media, both of which have algorithms that determine who sees what. With email, many brands abuse the privilege of entering someone’s inbox, although achieving an open rate of 50% is a pipe dream.

While the lack of control might feel demoralizing, it shouldn’t. Almost every brand faces the same problem and embracing the reality that one lacks control in a certain area helps brands realize where they have more influence, streamlining a company’s energy output. Moving forward, this might push more brands to use text messaging, which, at least for now, is not controlled by any algorithm. The burden for brands is even higher, since text is the second-most personal form of digital interaction aside from phone calls.

But beyond that, companies need to get smarter about what baskets their eggs are in and acknowledging how much control they have over these baskets. Platform risk, which is the concept of building something of significance on a foundation that you do not control, has never held more relevancy. Wholesale, at least, had relatively steady costs. Facebook, on the other hand, is always moving the goalposts, and it’s hard to keep scoring on a constantly-moving playing field.