Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why VivaKi’s New Ad Unit Is Destructive To The Ad Industry

“This is the most researched ad unit of all time.”

That’s what VivaKi’s director of innovation called their new ad unit ASq. (By the way, what’s with names these days? First VivaKi and now ASq.)

ASq allows viewers to pick the commercial they want to watch prior to watching a video on the web. You have three choices – go ahead – pick one. Wait thirty seconds and viola, your program starts.

According to VivaKi, ASq was the surprise winner of the research they did that compared different ad units. That ASq was VivaKi’s entry probably had nothing to do with it.

The problem, as I see it, lies in something else VivaKi’s director of innovation said. “We want to monetize (the web) the same way as TV.”


Here we go again. VivaKi wants to create a global ad standard (theirs, by the way) for the digital platform that is based on the way TV works.

Why? Because that’s what VivaKi knows how to buy.

Unfortunately, we can’t continue to try to adapt old standards and thinking to new technology because that is what we know.

What we need to know is what we don’t know. For the industry to engage with the future, it must first disengage from the habits of the past.

ASq doesn’t help us with that.

What VivaKi is doing is tinkering when what the ad industry needs now is transformation.

It’s like climate change. Some folks think they can legislate climate change out of existence with a cap and trade system or a tax on carbon, when all the evidence suggests that to survive, a complete reindustrialization of the planet is needed.

But transformation is hard, isn’t it? Tinkering is, well, tinkering is easy.

So, we tinker.

And we lay out superlatives like "ASq increases top of mind awareness by 363% over pre-roll," and “This is the most researched ad unit of all time,” to try to put substance behind something that offers little in the way of real change at all.

And advertisers, because they’re too busy to do anything else, listen blindly.

The ad industry is stalled. It’s lacking vitality, leadership and dynamism. It’s paralyzed, sitting on a mass of deflated expectations and underutilized resources.

We’re promised change. And we get yesterday’s bagels.

The leadership, knowledge and capability required to turn this thing around exists in the corporate boardrooms across America. No, it won’t be easy, because it means rethinking from the ground up. It means getting out of our comfort zones.

It means not doing what we did before because we know it works, but doing what we haven’t done before because we don’t know if it works.

In other words, it requires courage.

A call to arms has gone out for new business models, new ways of thinking, new leadership.

What we get is ASq.

A misplaced model.

Not to mention, misspelled.

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