The Marketing Intern

Outside the Box / Inside the Cubicle

The Benefits of User-Generated Video Advertising

Posted by The Marketing Intern on July 22, 2009

Christopher Rick of ReelSEO posted an article last Friday on using user-generated video content (UGVC, I call it) for marketing and advertising. The article was good, as Rick’s writing so often is, but reading it I felt like he was trying to cram a lot into a short word-count. That’s fine — long-format blog posts aren’t really the M.O. of ReelSEO (with a very few notable exceptions), and many readers are glad for that. As for me, I have a bit of a longer attention span. So when I was finished reading Rick’s story, I ached for more.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to expound a little bit on some of the points that Rick made, though I’ll hardly be able to speak to them as authoritatively. Still, I hope that you, dear reader, will find value here.

Consumer-Generated Video

First, let’s address this term. While it is true that brands like Pepsi, Burton Snowboards, and other B2C companies run immensely popular consumer video contests, it would be a shame to ignore the utility of these contests for a B2B campaign. Rick calls it consumer-generated video, which is an apt phrase considering consumers produce the most popular (and prevalent) brand-centered video content; I prefer the term user-generated video content, which implies its utility in both the B2c and B2B arenas. Maybe a nit-pick, but not without its merits. (Furthermore, I think Rick would agree with it, considering he refers to “users” and “consumers” interchangeably.)

Proceed with Caution…?

“Forrester did warn,” Rich writes, “that marketers need to keep expectations of interaction and brand impact low so as not to be disappointed since it’s still a somewhat unproven marketing tactic.” Of course, Forrester is correct that this marketing tactic is unproven, but I would caution companies against reining in a UGVC campaign too much. It seems like those companies who aggressively market their UGVC contests are the ones who are successful. And these campaigns are successful because they are new and somewhat rare — the very thing that makes them unproven.

…And Viral, Too!

Rick writes that “[Forrester] also say that the contests need to be easily accessible and give it a more viral lean so as to get the consumers to do much of the heavy lifting.” Then he leaves the point alone. But there is a lot more to this concept than can be stated in one sentence. First of all, UGVC is uncontrollable — that is, a company has no control over how it is produced, distributed, or consumed outside of the contest framework. Giving it “a more viral lean” might be more difficult than Forrester suggests, or might just be implied in the simple fact that most UGVC contests are viral in nature. There really isn’t much a marketer can do to give anything a more or less “viral lean” (assuming, that is, that I even know for certain what that means) simply because the generation of content is out of his hands entirely.

Furthermore, we as marketers must consider the eventuality that some videos, whether or not they “win,” may reach viral status anyway. Remember, discontented users will use any excuse to voice their discontent. While Pepsi may reject a video called “Pepsi Fail,” there’s no telling how that video will do on YouTube.  That video may be more popular than the one that wins!

The opposite, of course, is also plausible. While one video may win a contest, what happens if there are a dozen or so other tremendously creative videos out there? A dozen smash hits on YouTube all revolving around your brand? Yes, please. In other words, a marketer has to be aware of the popular image of his brand before he launches a UGVC contest.

Age Before Beauty?

Rick notes that “13% of users 18 to 24 report uploading online video monthly,” according to Forrester. “Other age groups reported about half as much video uploading. If your product is not aimed at this particular age group you might expect far lower results and submissions.”

Obviously this is true right now. Call me an optimist, but I doubt that it will be true for very long. ReelSEO also reported on a trend that said C-level executives are increasingly turning to video for informational purposes; it seems to stand to reason that these younger generations of executives will also pioneer its creation and consumption well after graduating from the 18-24 demographic.

And here I’ve spent about 750 words giving second- and third-tier subheadings to the bullet points Rick laid out in about 500 words. I’m curious to see what my readers think about UGVC for advertising and marketing. What lies in its future? Who should be doing it? Can it work for B2B? What say you?

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