Marketers: Consumer-Generated Media Tricky

NEW YORK – Consumer-generated media may be hot, but integrating it into a marketing plan can be tricky, according to a panel of experts at the kickoff event to Advertising Week New York.

“Advertisers need to think of this not as an interruptive ad being inserted — that’s what the next wave really is,” David Adelman, media director at Johnson & Johnson, told the assembled crowd of marketers at the MIXX Conference on Monday. “The old model of inserting interruptive advertising is bumping into new, more participatory things on the Web.”

The concept itself is old — people have been counting on other people’s advice since the beginning of time. But online communication forms — blogs, message boards, social networks and podcasts — are proliferating, and are measurable in a way that offline word-of-mouth wasn’t.

“From a pure inventory standpoint, the vast percentage of content online is created by consumers. Many of the largest media sites, and most search engines are dominated by consumer media,” said Jonathan Carson, co-founder and director of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) and president and CEO of BuzzMetrics. “It’s exciting to many marketers because it’s challenging. The idea of ad insertion into consumer media is a tough thing to get around.”

Adelman agrees that the opportunities are intriguing, but admits that giving up control to consumers is not easy, especially for a company like his that deals in such a highly regulated industry as pharmaceuticals. In his company’s examination of marketing opportunities like blogs, VOD, and podcasts, Adelman said the question always comes down to one question: “does participating in this venue do something for the brand that we want to do?”

In some cases, marketers are satisfied just keeping tabs on the consumer-generated media space, for now. VoIP provider Avaya tapped BuzzMetrics to monitor its standing in consumer-generated media. As a small firm in a crowded B2B space, the company believes the practice can help it get the most out of its limited marketing budget.

“For us, measuring the buzz Avaya is generating in the market is more important than measuring brand awareness. That’s theoretical, and not related to our business,” said CMO Jocelyne Attal in an earlier panel.

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