The advertising community is over-supplied with innovation searching for a home. Like you, over the past few weeks and months, I've sat through many meetings, conferences and presentations. Like you, I've been lectured about the need – more the imperative – of inspiring, introducing and integrating "innovation" into our businesses and business models. Holy crap! Wow! Why didn't we all realize this before? It's as if innovation itself is a new idea. Are media and advertisers just waking up to the empowering potential of innovation? Speaker after speaker stand and accuse our industry of lacking innovation, and bemoan how this failure has gotten in the way of a positive advertising and media experience for consumers. Are we on the cusp of witnessing a radical sea change as our business embraces innovation?
It would seem we are. A clarion call has gone out across the business world to innovate and change, or die. Now that we're all onboard with innovation as a priority, organizations are investing in teams dedicated to innovation. Innovation has become a priority for corporate leaders and innovation is the mantra their followers are required to adopt. Research and data are suddenly the sweethearts of innovation. Is the advertising business about to turn upside down?
No, unfortunately it is not. Because innovation is not scalable. And if it is not scalable, it is not sustainable. Yes, our industry is in the midst of transformation, but there is nothing less sustainable in business than a non-scalable idea.
There are three reasons innovation in advertising is not scalable: economics; innovation cannot thrive on shiny new objects alone; and "free," contrary to common digital thinking, is not a scalable business model.
Whether you're a South Park fan or not, if you work in advertising or media you must watch the episode on Sponsored Content at Hulu, season 19 episode 8. As Ed Martin consistently reports, South Park geniuses Trey Parker and Matt Stone "have been producing their show for a remarkable 19 seasons and remain as timely, provocative and thought provoking as ever, perhaps more than anyone else working in television." Their commentary on ad-blocking, branded content, and the disintegration of 'separation of church and state' in media, captures the public's awareness of just how pervasive advertising has become.
The episode also offers a lesson in innovation, throwing a back-handed compliment to Geico for its leadership in exploiting the media industry's appetite for innovative one-offs. Geico's intrusive cleverness is typically welcomed and enjoyed by consumers… the first time. But its stalking tendencies are apparently worthy of a South Park episode. Did Geico pay Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the product placement? Hmmmmm! That would be an innovative one-off.
This TomorrowToday report has been underwritten with funding provided in part by "innovation." Partnership funding is provided to MediaVillage by Hulu, Comedy Central and Fox-TV.