Attendance last night at the UGTV conference in New York showed traditional media is taking user-generated content seriously.
Representatives from Disney/ABC, NBC, CBS, MTV, and the BBC joined new media companies including Heavy Joost and blip.tv in a discussion over the disrupted industry that is television and where new media is taking us. Questions abound as to how UGC will be monetized — especially since it seems ad companies are most interested in servicing professional video.
The key, according to MTV’s Kenny Miller, is that UGTV needs to be good TV. Most content consumed online is professionally produced. Joey Jodar of Heavy.com said that the TV category remains the most viewed area of that site.
While there is a massive amount of UGC online thanks to the democratization of production and distribution, promotion is the one area in which mainstream media still has a strong advantage.
Shelly Palmer, who runs the Emmy’s Advanced Media Committee and produces a video podcast, was the only true UGC producer on the panel. Time, these days he said is the only real barrier to entry for content creators. To edit together a daily podcast takes time, and creating a five-minute video that looks good takes skill. Palmer believes that passion is what will set successful content creators apart.
For the mainstream media companies, their aim is to increase interaction. One of the ways MTV is doing this is with a feature called “vomments”, viewer comments which show up as pop-up messages overlaid on video. Users on the-n.com can interact with everyone watching or to limit vommenting only to their friends (screenshot below; see our coverage from MTV’s presentation at another New York video event).
Heavy.com, despite getting the most traffic from TV content, has successfully monetized UGC and is proud of it. Heavy generates interest with innovative contests and sponsorship option such as its Canadian Contraband battle of the bands, which Virgin Mobile is sponsoring. The advantage for aggregated content sites like Heavy is that the most-watched videos drive views of other content, and thus other ads, improving the overall bottom line.
The vast majority of independent content producers will never reach an audience large enough to monetize their content in the same way that mainstream media does, but they won’t need to. As UGC provides more specific content, it will allow greater opportunities for marketers to get closer to the people they most want to reach, and that will be far more valuable than traditional advertising.