New platform products always get hype whenever they debut, but they’re not always adopted.
“While social networks are constantly bringing to market products that ultimately fail, it is this failure that is critical to innovation and growth,” said Jeff Kauffman, media group head at The Richards Group. “We learn from failure.”
That said, let’s learn from failure by examining some platform products that failed to catch on in 2016.
This summer, ad buyers told Digiday that the Moments measurements Twitter shared were poor and that Twitter was asking for too much money.
As several of Twitter’s ad products failed to catch on with marketers, Moments became symbolic of a larger issue for Twitter. One digital ad exec told Digiday, “A lot of the media spend Twitter used to be getting is going to Snapchat.”
Facebook Sports Stadium
At the beginning of the year, Facebook launched Sports Stadium. The product was aimed at providing a second screen that let sports fans talk trash with their friends and monitor commentary from experts while they watched their team play.
Sports Stadium sounded like a great way for Facebook to take on Twitter in its live-commentary niche. But it didn’t catch on. At the beginning of the NFL season, Digiday reached out to sources about Sports Stadium, but no one reported having worked with the product.
One major roadblock for Sports Stadium was that Facebook didn’t secure access to stream many popular sports. Meanwhile, Twitter began an exclusive streaming partnership with the NFL this season.
Snapchat lens store
Lens and filters have been huge hits for Snapchat. But getting users to pay for lenses didn’t turn out so well.
Before it could even introduce advertising into the product, Snapchat shuttered its lens store less than two months after its launch. As was the case with other in-app purchase options it tested, Snapchat quickly learned that its users don’t want to pay for anything.
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Twitter ads for influencers
In late August, Twitter opened up pre-roll video ads to influencers. To encourage influencers to adopt the feature, Twitter offered revenue splits that were more favorable to content creators than the splits found on YouTube and Facebook.
But the sales volume at YouTube and Facebook significantly exceeds Twitter’s, so most influencers didn’t bother to migrate over. None of the influencers or influencer agencies that Digiday spoke with were aware of any influencers using the pre-roll ads.
“It hasn’t been something that’s hit our radar or, from what I can tell of our clients’ media plans, their radar either,” said Alexa Tonner, co-founder and head of partnerships at social media influencer agency Collectively Inc.
Pinterest buy buttons
Although Pinterest rolled out a glut of new ad products this year, the company still faces an uphill battle with many ad buyers. One product that was particularly slow out of the gate was its buy buttons.
Sucharita Mulpuru, principal analyst for Forrester, told Digiday that the buy buttons generate very low sales volume to retailers. One problem is that social platforms cannot store inventory the same way that Amazon does. So when viewers click on images, they may find a dead link or be sent to a product that isn’t currently purchasable.
“On Pinterest, the intersection between what people want to buy and what is available to buy is huge,” Mulpuru said. “The majority of most popular pins are not buyable.”
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