The Key to Consumer-generated Advertising

It has come to my attention that a lot of industry specialists are slowly moving away from the whole user-generated movement. Some never actually believed in it and think that it was a waste of agency time, resource and mostly money. I think they’re wrong, and user-generated content hasn’t even reached its peak yet. If they’re throwing the towel now, they miss out on crowdsourcing’s true potential: The fortification of your creative efforts.

If we look closer at crowdsourcing, there are a lot of success stories out there. (Doritos with their superbowl ads.) If they do it again this (which I don’t think they would stop) they might improve (I hope) on an existing model.

So far all they did was under contest format; giving the opportunity to “Joe writer/director” to submit his work into a massive pool of submissions for hopes of 15 minutes of fame (more like 60 sec). The problem here lies in the logistics of this format. We need resource to set the contest up, go through and filter all the entries. It’s costly and in some case not effective. But what the average person is missing here is the crowd’s contribution to the selected winning piece after it airs.

If you look closely, these types of competitions are highly publicized. Let it be Tv, radio, and most importantly blogs. Social media being everyone’s drug of choice in the industry, user-generated content provides a unique opportunity to increase click through over a period of time.

What I’m saying is that to rack up the benefits of user-generated content or other crowdsourcing initiative, we need to produce our best campaigns first.  Good creative, the kind that’s engaging, entertaining and unexpected is the key to added value. By producing our best content, we become relevant to our audience, and in return they stream our content into social media, thus fortifying our message.

If we take a second to think about this, it becomes obvious that as human beings (read consumers), everyday we share opinions though conversations with our social network (we know better then anybody how to convince our friends). Conversation here is the key. The more our consumers talk about us, the more we rack the benefits. User-generated content should be considered as a tool for us to gain valuable insights into our brands, rather than another cash cow.

So let’s rename this “consumer-generated content” to Consumer-contribution (sounds better than participation).  Also, let’s limit what we want them to add to the ongoing conversation. I suggest these tools: Reviews, word of mouth, blogging, “like” (facebook’s contribution to the media mix) and all other “share-enabled” web community service.

Limiting our audience to the conversation side of things, gives them plenty of room to express their true feelings about a brand, and gives us an amazing opportunity to harvest, filter and feed off unique yet sincere insights. To me, this is what crowdsourcing should be about. User/consumer-contribution originated by our hardworking planners, writers and art directors through ads.

Social media is not the answer; it’s a tool to get to the answer. Consumer-generated content is a tool, let the professionals do what they do best: create ads.



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