Sometimes, you have to fail harder to go further: the case of digital advertising

whatsapp no ad no games no gimmicks sequoia capital
Le mantra d’un des fondateurs de Whatsapp (avant rachat)

A lot of business successes were born ad-free. They even accelerated their growth through anti-advertising speeches (remember Facebook, Twitter or more recently Whatsapp) (cf. the CEO manifesto published couple of weeks ago).

But there’s a time reality comes knocking at your door.

You want to go public, you want to raise funds, you want to hire people.

Then come the business model issue – even if a lot of urban legends tell us that the best BM in town remains users x users x users – and boom, advertising appears, smiling at you, showing how it’s the best alternative to remain free at the expense of a few banners. Example: Facebook is now a sewer making everyone paying – sometimes twice* – for shitty services.

What happens next is obvious: people are polluted, come less and less often, then drop the service after being told that the kid in town is ——-.

As video killed the radio star, advertising kills digital platforms. Whatever it is: native, entertaining, bluh bluh bluh. People are bored then leave. Period. 1% of good advertising doesnt make an exception.

For people, the only way to survive banners is to oupace advertisers. By leapfrogging from platforms to platforms, pursuing a neverending quest for ad-free spaces.

Wait. After all, if advertising screws innovation, this is good news. It boasts innovation.

As for an experience where subjects need to find solution under constraints, advertising invite people to get rid of by innovating.

So brands, you’ve got your answer. As for the people, the only solution is to outpace innovation.

Either create awesome experiences as Red Bull and start selling contents, let people play with your products as for Beck’s Song Reader, make them smarter like Lego We Do initiating kids to robots.

Squeeze the present to enjoy the future. This is dangerous game but eh, you’d better be the hunter than the hunted right?

* Getting Facebook in 9 minutes :

5 réflexions sur “Sometimes, you have to fail harder to go further: the case of digital advertising

    1. It’s hard to say, I heard that the registred something like 250M downloads but impossible to know how many people actually use it… I’d be happy to get the info if anyone knows…

      J'aime

  1. « As video killed the radio star, advertising kills digital platforms. Whatever it is: native, entertaining, bluh bluh bluh. People are bored then leave. Period. »
    Not always true… Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, BuzzFeed still saw their number of users growing after introducing advertising on their platforms…
    I think there is something about the value a digital product gives you vs the constraints you have to undergo to enjoy this value. If the value is greater than the constraints, it is likely you’ll stay. If the constraints gets greater than the value, it is likely you’ll leave.
    For social products the value you deliver to users is usually proportional to the number of users you have. No wonder the motto of those products is « users x users x users ». Once you deliver enough value (cf. once you have enough users), you can start to introduce some constraints (ads), keeping in mind that the value has always to be greater than the constraints… Dangerous game, i concede. That’s why it’s better to be called Facebook to play it. Not WhatsApp.

    J'aime

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