This was the session I’d been waiting for. Great line up, great title – “Unleashing Mass Creativity.” It wasn’t so much unleashing mass creativity as monetizing it, perhaps inevitably. Heavy’s co-founder Simon Assaad said that the talk about advertising in the UGC space is too focused on traditional brand advertising, understandably because it’s a $50 billion market. But he said there’s huge potential besides that interruptive TV advertising model: “Google has built an entire business – something like
$600 billion a year – out of the classifieds market. There are huge pockets of the advertising market that are not brands looking for attention.” Classifieds are the UGC of the ad market.
Patrick Walker, Google’s head of content partnerships EMEA, agreed that the strengths of these new types of advertising need to be recognised because they create opportunities for smaller, more niche advertisers: “Through technology we can serve more meaningful advertising in an efficient and targeted way, and serve the long tail of advertisers as well as the long tail of content creators. The content community often look down their nose at UGC platforms when, in fact, it’s so much more impactful for advertisers and can give their brand more cachet than a mainstream campaign.” The whole Coke/Mentos thing gave Mentos an estimated $10 million free advertising, though the completely uncontrollable viral nature of that is hardly likely to encourage more skeptical advertisers about the web platform.
Assaad said Heavy plans to focus on highly targeted ads for its audience of “guys like seeing thing blow up.” The company’s strategy is to deploy international sites and attract locally-relevanty content; to build more channels up to 12 by 2010; and to super-serve audiences and advertisers through segmented and targetted ads. It will be critical, he said, to lay Heavy’s “psychographic” audience info over the geo-targetting that advertisers want: “That will give us a business that really chomps away at broadcast dollars.”
What will Google’s content partnerships will look like in 2010? Walker used the line from Casablanca: “I never make plans that far ahead” – which seems pretty apt given that YouTube is only 20 months old. “You have to be nimble and ready to adapt, to find new partners. People were saying that YouTube and Google Video were competitors and now we are partners. I honestly believe that other than Microsoft, we could partner will almost anybody.” Fischer also said that mobile will be central to the expansion of MySpace as it expands globally.
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.