Interpublic Group Emerging Media: The 1% Meets Madison Avenue

by Marianne Richmond on August 10, 2006

A Marketing Vox story with the title, "User Generated Content Producers Profiled" reported today on a study conducted by the IPG Emerging Media Lab, that Marketing Vox said found that those who produce online video content are young, male, and produce content for personal recognition as well as remuneration.

Unfortunately, the actual study that is referenced was based upon a sample of video uploaders from Grouper.com, an online video sharing community and Gamespot.com and was designed to study motivations of online content producers from these two sites, not provide a profile of user generated video content producers in general. Any resemblance (and there is probably a lot) to a profile is purely coincedental….not based upon best practices of research design, aka the random sample.

The sample was not presented as random, therefore not intended to be a representative profile of UGC producers but a study of the "habits, activities, and motivations" of a specific hand picked group of producers presumably, since it was conducted by an advertising agency and asked questions about willingness to mention brands, with the intent to evaluate the receptivity of this group to including advertising with their content.

Specifically Marketing Vox, who referenced ClickZ stated that, "three-quarters of those who publish online video content are under 25; of those, 86 percent are male… Up to 73 percent of video producers notice internet advertising – much more that the male 18-24-year-old demo in general. Some 57 percent of the content creators are willing to feature brands in their videos; many already have. Personal recognition is a motivation for 62 percent; 60 percent cite remuneration."

A visit to the IPG Emerging Media Lab site noted that the research was presented at Cannes by Brian Monahan, director of the IPG Media Lab’s User-Generated Content Practice. A link to a sample of the research was provided and indicated that the online survey that produced the results was conducted among 240 video uploaders from Grouper.com and Gamespot.com.. The objective of the research is stated as, "To understand the habits, activities and motivations of those individuals who create their own online video content."

I mention the "semantic disparity" in the MarketingVox/ClickZ report of the IPG Report as yet another example of poor research reporting. This time not by the researchers conducting the study and the bloggers that passed it along, such as the methodology issues raised by Toby Bloomberg with Jupiter Research or Nielson’s misstatements regarding publishing and downloading but by those reporting results (ClickZ) and those passing it along (Marketing Vox).

 Donna Bogatin at ZDNet calls it "data hype" when referring to the NY Times vs Digg reports. She writes, " by writing stories based on data shop headlines, the blogosphere can become part of data shop viral “rainmaking.”

So, what did the IPG Emerging Media Lab UGC Motivation Study find? These guys on Grouper.com and Gamespot.com are producing a lot: 57% are uploading multiple times per month; 8% everyday. They share well with others and include various content when they share. And importantly to advertisers, they have (25%) featured a brand and those who haven’t would be willing to feature a brand (32%). And this is where the 1% meets Madison Avenue.

 Probably it would be helpful to specify a definition of "user generated content." There is the Wikipedia definition: "produced by users of websites as opposed to traditional media producers such as broadcasters and production companies. It reflects the democratization of media production through new technologies that are accessible and affordable. These include digital video, blogging, podcasting, mobile phone, photography and, of course, wikis."

And then there is the debate over whether uploading a clip from a TV show qualifies as content versus producing, mixing, directing, and editing clips into a 5-10 minute video. I will agree with Asi Sharabi who is blogging YouTube trends and says that user generated content is everything that is uploaded. BUT, he goes on to add, " everything without commercial / marketing / promotional purpose in mind is UGC." With that, I do not agree. Does that mean video on Revver is NOT user generated content?

Now, what does this mean and why do we care?

Well, there has been a lot of conversation on line regarding the 1% Rule: 1% of online visitors will create content in a democratized community. Seen from another perspective by Donna Bogatin at ZDNet: "The average YouTube user is watching the content, not generating it, “while more than 35 million videos are viewed daily, only 35,000 are uploaded” and at Riya photo search, searchers outnumber the uploaders…20 to 1…Perhaps the social Web will come to be known for its freeloaders, rather than its uploaders."

 The Church of the Customer explains the importance of 1%: "It would appear that small groups of people often turn out to be the principal value creators of a democratized community. Over time, their work fuels widespread interaction that engages the non-participating community and attracts new ones. If continually nurtured, the community can become a self-sustaining generator of content and value."

Well, call them freeloaders or call them 99%….but do we also call them "the target market." So are there two kinds of people in this world. value creators and value-ers; producers and users? Ari Sharabi at No Man’s Blog says, "we have to realize that increasingly consumption is production – we don’t just passively view or downloads (well, some of us do…) but we also rate, tag, review, comment and this is all part of that living web, an everlasting meaning-making machine."

Bradley Horowitz of Yahoo drew a pyramid and uses Yahoo! Groups to demonstrate the 1% value creation model: 1% creators, 10% of the populations participate actively, and the 100% of the user population that lurks but benefits from the activities of the 11%.

So, although some suggest that to create online video content is to take a vow of poverty, there is that 60% in the IPG study who say remuneration is a good thing and the 57% who are brand friendly. Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 asks directly, Who Will Make Money With User Generated Online Video? Karp highlights what he refers to as his favorite obscure corner of Web 2.0, business models. He suggests four:

  1. The attention model which is described in the IPG study as personal recognition, coveted by 62%. I haven’t seen this part of the study but I am assuming that since 60% and 62% do not equal 100% that this means that there are some who desire both qualitative recognition as well as quantitative recognition (money).
  2. The shared advertising revenue model, Revver.
  3. Subscription revenue sharing.
  4. Free bandwith exchange.

Karp writes, "I think the real winners long-term will be platforms that enable a new generation of content producers to break free from the old media content hierarchy and make money from their creativity. I think there is a number 5. Let’s look at an interview with Brian Monahan about what IPG Emerging Media does to generate revenue. He describes the use of contests, "I think it’s an easy-to-execute way for brands to commission videos that feature their products. I think there’s an appetite within the generating community to continue to participate in these things so their work will be recognized and celebrated… It’s within the IPG Emerging Media Lab, which is an entity that’s designed to assist our clients and our agency staff to execute informed trials in these emerging communications channels."

So, while television watching continues to decline and DVR usage continues to increase, continuous partial attention is reaching epidemic proportions, and more than 100 million videos are watched every day at YouTube. Advertiser still have to reach consumers and in the best tradition of :"fish where the fish are" advertisers will find a way to advertise on online video. That is what the IPG study is about.

Mckinsey as reported in the Wall Street Journal says: " the he inability of consumers to skip these ads and their use of sound and motion — proven tools for driving brand awareness among consumers — make online video highly attractive to marketers.."

As stated in a slightly different manner in the Financial Times, “Advertisers are looking for leadership on how to find ways of reaching the growing audience for user-generated content,” said Aaron Cohen, chief executive of Bolt Media, who is involved in the meeting plans.

The new paradigm is captured in the Yahoo pyramid and/or in the 1% Rule. YouTube is the new tube and the content of the 1% will be advertising supported.

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