Snapchat has hit the mainstream, and, after founder Evan Spiegel’s coming-out party at the Cannes Lions advertising event, it is preparing to explode onto the social media stage, rivaling Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Snapchat, much like its application, took a unique approach to its newest product. After a hefty $19 billion valuation, it is finally looking to make some money, and pitching to the top creatives, executives and brands in France is not a bad place to start. In his interview/pitch to the attendees, Spiegel quickly criticized much of the current digital advertising product marketplace, retargeted banners, horizontal video and repurposed desktop banners used in mobile environments.

As an integrated media manager who creates communication plans for a living, I will state that I largely agree with the man. Advertising has been forced by the desire for increased efficiency in the medium to repurpose ads and content and focus on improvements largely based on tactical implementation, not creative execution. So, we implement better targeting, not better content and mobile-minded advertising creation, because it is easier, even cleaner. As an industry, we need to stop. Mobile is taking over, people! It is time to put up or shut up. 

Spiegel admitted that Snapchat’s timing was lucky, saying that, “We didn’t have any legacy Internet ad-serving infrastructure,” allowing the company to build from the ground up. Now, what Spiegel failed to identify is that there are some problems with not having legacy systems. You have no proven track record or easy implementation systems, and advertisers are forced to start over with you. Every piece of advertising has to be created uniquely to Snapchat, with context in mind. As Spiegel stated, “Creative actually really matters here. If everyone were to advertise effectively, then advertising would be effective.” Not a bad shot across the bow at a room full of the world’s top ad executives. Now, as most new frontiers, it starts off like the wild, wild west — no rules, just content. 

That said, I do see some significant problems with Spiegel’s vision. First and most importantly, Snapchat’s audience, predominantly the 13-34-year-old crowd, is anti-advertising and has come to the platform, not only to have messaging to one another disappear, but to disappear from advertisers that have quickly overtaken other social platforms.

Second, the placement of these ads is within the Discover and Live Stories features, which is not only NOT the main focus of the app, but is difficult to find until recently. It’s like going into AIM back in the ‘90s and receiving an ad mid-emoticon. Earlier, this Snapchat tweaked the design of the app to more predominantly feature its live events and Discover, and the audience was not happy. Finally, targeting is not something Spiegel “is comfortable with,” and, in an industry clearly moving toward less waste and more reporting, that is a real issue.

Like any high school NBA prospect, upside is everything. Currently, Snapchat has the coveted Millennials, and they are active, getting nearly 2 billion views a day. That is nearly half of Facebook, with a 7x smaller audience — not bad for a relatively new platform still in its infancy. The new ads will utilize the entire mobile screen and will be native, improving both viewability and relevance. The company has constructed deals with key editorial channels, CNN, Cosmopolitan, Food Network and Yahoo, to name a few, that post short video and text content. These are the beginnings of a pretty substantial content play that must take off in order for advertisers to dive in and shell out the kind of money Snapchat needs to justify its initial evaluation and reach this key younger demographic.

What does this mean for food and beverage advertisers?

MARKETING LESSON: If you are a mass-reach, high-budget advertiser that doesn’t need to target any specific age group, we have a great platform for you. If you need to be more focused and targeted with your audience and message, wait a year or so: Snapchat’s board and investors will have most likely forced Spiegel to reduce his concerns with targeting and ad structure, and Millennials will be open for business.