Instagram’s 30-Second Marquee Videos, Old Box Thinking in a New Box World

I was reading, and saw the "big" announcement about Instagram adding 30-sec page takeovers as big new monetization strategy. My first thought: "Wow, that’s so...uninspiring.” With a young and savvy audience, and a social network with a ton of power, why resort to such old methods which infuriate their audience? Hopefully, this is a really short-term solution.

Here's what really caught my eye and prompted this post.  Right after that article I see this article.  When consumers introduce ad blockers, what they’re shouting at us is they don't want any of the standard types of advertising. So why aren't we listening and trying to come up with "new boxes", not forcing old ones? (You know, like Pinterest's glorified GIF file rich media ads).

Partly this lies on the existing dependence on the advertising machine and the safe advertising platforms that give immediate returns for marketers, like DoubleClick, Google AdSense, and video ads using pre-, mid-, and post-roll. That's the obvious answer and fuels short-term results.

The real problem, in my opinion: fear. People love the idea of change through innovation, but when push comes to shove marketers don't want to actually take a chance for fear of losing credibility and ultimately their job.  (Just one of many reasons that the average tenure for CMOs is less than two years.)  Fear is a killer of innovation and restricts new, and potentially exponential, revenue growth.

Of course, you cannot kill the golden goose and change does take time.  However, marketers and their agencies should be committed to dedicating budget and human resources to evaluate and test innovative products and new monetization strategies. There are a lot of self-fulfilling prophecies of pilot programs, tests that didn't work. What I usually find out privately is that they never really had a chance because they didn't want to dedicate the necessary resources to execute it properly. Why? Fear and a  reliance on short-term results.

I should mention I am not a fan of Google’s traditional ad methods, but it is, and continues to be, an amazing company because that uses the revenue from these worn-out methods to fuel their next innovations and game-changing products. Consumers are just paying the experiential price for it. But, this is why I love Amazon. They constantly sacrifice a short-term gain for a long-term view, owning a truly loyal consumer base in as many ways as possible, and becoming a complete supply chain for the biggest economy in the world. Incredible.

Quick pivot...

I grew up in the Motor City, from its hay day all the way to its crash, and now to its resurgence. What I learned from that experience (almost everyone I knew growing up were top-level executives in the auto industry) was maintaining the status quo and resisting change kills companies. Ultimately, the auto industry faced an “innovate or die” moment and the braintrust started to make it happen, but only after they were backed up against the wall. When I asked my father, the wisest man I know, "why management would let it get that bad,” his response was, senior leadership was getting paid a lot of money not to rock the boat and take chances, i.e. keep paying dividends.  Who would want to take a risk and lose that high paying salary when they were so close to retiring? The incentive just wasn’t there.  Until Toyota came along.

From those moments, I vowed never to accept the status quo just because "that's the way it's done." I can't do it.  I'm compulsive about change.  But I’m learning it is a hard road to drive down.

Back to my main point...

How does this all tie together? Advertising is quickly approaching its “innovate or die” moment.  The competition isn’t coming from an overseas automaker, it’s coming from consumers actively working to avoid its product.   

This requires more than just a new spin on the old ways, but to actually invent new ad formats. Just like the movies, where there are a certain number of core plots, you create dynamic ways of storytelling that feel fresh and new. Take brand integration, which dates back to the early days of TV advertising.  The “why” hasn’t changed, but  "how" you do it has continually evolved.

What we are trying to do with Multipop is provide new boxes and new paradigms to help content creators and publishers monetize their digital video content while delivering results to advertisers and great experiences for consumers. Brands can leverage value-added content, whether it's a vote or contextual information, to introduce fun interactive micro-experiences that engage viewers. (Don't worry, no forced overlays or hotspots.)

I think we're on the precipice of great things happening and believe ad blocking and skip buttons are the signs that are forcing everyone's back against the wall to commit to real change.