User-generated Content Comes to The Super Bowl

More developments from the fast-evolving world of user-generated content. No doubt readers of the P2P blog would be well aware of this emerging trend made famous by the likes of YouTube, Wikipedia and MySpace. Alvin Toffler has discussed this in terms of “prosumption” and Australian-based media theorist Axel Bruns has developed this idea further through his research on “produsage“. My latest research report the “Digital Lifestyles Monitor” (PDF here) examines this and other topics related to Web 2.0 and user-led innovation. Last year NYU A/Prof in Journalism Jay Rosen proferred a nice aphorism to describe these power shifts in media production and referred to citizen journalists as “The People Formerly Known as the Audience“.

News from The Washington Post this week that 4 consumer-created advertisements will be shown during this year’s Super Bowl. This is the first time such amateur ads will be broadcast during the nationally televised event. The most highly coveted 30-second spots will cost US$2.6 million and will be shown to over 90 million viewers. The article points to the fact that advertiser’s are embracing this new medium thanks to the “YouTube effect” which has given mainstream audiences a taste of this new medium. The cost savings from using non-professional actors and writers are also very appealing to the advertisers. It’s not unusual for a typical agency-produced ad to cost around US$1 million but the user-generated versions cost virtually nothing and give unknown talent the opportunity to showcase their work to a huge national audience.

Some of the earliest experiments in this “genre”, if one can call it that, include the two guys who dropped a certain mint into another certain soft drink to create silly soda fountains which managed to grab the attention of vast numbers of Web watchers. NBC also invited viewers to create spots for the new season of The Office (American version of the BBC original). To read more about user-generated advertising check out this great article from last year in the International Herald Tribune which discusses how agencies are trying to re-invigorate their tired sector with the help of the Web/phone/video-enabled “anarchic” masses.

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