User-generated content (UGC) presents a conundrum for publishers. More than half of media and entertainment executives surveyed in Accenture's "Global Media Content Survey 2007" cite UGC as a leading threat to their bottom line. On the other hand, about two-thirds of the respondents believe they'll make money on UGC within three years.
The reality is UGC can vary significantly in subject matter, quality, and marketability. This is an issue for publishers since advertisers pay a premium for visitor quality based on demographics and media content. The challenge is engaging the audience to extend the experience with the brand while encouraging a quality dialogue. This is even more important for business-to-business (B2B) publishers, where the brand's strength and the audience's targeted nature are significant value factors.
Despite these hurdles, publishers are leveraging community power to enhance their offerings. Showcased at a recent Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) panel, "Tapping Into User-Generated Content" and at an iBreakfast featuring Jimmy Wales, examples include Economist.com's use of letters to the editor, question and answer site WikiAnswers, Condé Nast's teen scrapbook site, Flip, and community site Wikia.
When evaluating UGC's value to your site, take into account the impact of the following factors on your media offering:
Advertisers may be concerned about the environment in which their advertising appears. They must be open to the fact that community members may disagree with them. Revenue-generating options include:
Depending on the media entity and segment, it's possible to find additional UGC revenue opportunities. Options include subscriptions for access to the community (depending on your audience's exclusivity) and other forms of ancillary publishing revenue and affiliate referral fees.
Measuring UGC's Impact
Among the metrics publishers focus on to determine their UGC efforts' health are:
Adding UGC to your media entity can enhance your end user's overall experience and broaden your offering. You must be open to offering your users a variety of tools and to letting them add their opinions. It's important to decide how much you want or need to play sheriff. But there's nothing like UGC to build user engagement and targeted pageviews.
Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.
Heidi is also a popular speaker on current industry topics.
May 22, 2013
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