Head of Instagram Likens Ad-Revenue Sharing With Creators to ‘Burning Cash’

Adam Mosseri speaking into a microphone
Adam Mosseri Instagram Remix by Caterina Rose Cox Anastasiia Gevko/Shutterstock Whyredphotographor/Shutterstock Colin and Samir

Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri was put in the hot- well, lukewarm seat by YouTube duo Colin and Samir in a new interview.

The discussion covered everything from AI to young people’s mental health on the app. But the most important thing that creators can get out of this video is Mosseri’s questionable take on creator revenue. 

He argued that revenue actually only matters to “a very small subset of creators.” He also noted that the “vast majority” of Instagram creators are “too small to monetize in a meaningful way.”

“Yes, they care about monetization, they want to hear about monetization, but it’s actually not the thing they can or should really focus on,” he said.

In fairness to Mosseri, it’s not like there’s much really to focus on. Instagram shut down its Reels Play program, which was tailored toward short form video creators, last year. Now, the only way Instagram pays creators is through a program in testing known as Bonuses. These are invite-only, performance-based incentives.

‘Replacement value’

Mosseri then went on to say Instagram hasn’t found a way to share revenue with short-form video creators in a way that isn’t “burning cash” because the content lacked what he called “replacement value.” This is the principle that paid content should add more value than unpaid content.

“So let’s say you made 10 Reels through the program, and they all got really good views,” he said. “But if you hadn’t made them, we would’ve had just as much engagement from [content] that wasn’t paid for, from an Instagram business perspective, the ROI is negative 100%.”

“So if we paid you $1,000 — making up numbers now — for 10 Reels and the replacement value was $0, you would look at your Reels and be like, ‘They all got 500,000 views, and these are the CPMs, you owe me X.’”

“It’s like, yes, but from a business perspective, if we hadn’t paid you $1,000, we would’ve made the exact same amount of revenue,” he added. “Then we’ve actually just burned $1,000.”

What do creators think of this?

The video has already amassed 61,000 views. In the video‘s comments section, fellow creators had varying opinions over Colin and Samir’s line of questioning.

Many suggested that the duo did not ask enough of the “hardest questions.” One argued that Mosseri “limbo’d under a lot of the answers.”

“As a creator on Instagram with multiple videos with over 100 million views, the monetization conversation was disappointing,” one wrote. 

Ultimately, it looks like this interview fell short of giving creators the clarity they need on how to monetize their Instagram content effectively. Because the truth is, most of them can’t.

Further reading:

Content for Creators.

News, tips, and tricks delivered to your inbox twice a week.

Newsletter Signup

Top Stories