User-generated content starts to take hold in advertisingBy Julie Bosman
The New York TimesTHURSDAY, MAY 11, 2006
It all happens in 24 seconds. A silver Sony stereo rapidly deconstructs, then reassembles into the shape of a flat- screen television. The television then converts into a DVD player. The DVD player to digital camera. The camera to portable PlayStation.
The animated spot is the latest television commercial for Sony Electronics, but its creator is not a technology wizard at either of Sony's two advertising agencies.
The commercial is the work of Tyson Ibele, a 19-year-old from Minneapolis who won a contest on a cable network, Current TV, for its first viewer-created ad message.
User-generated content, best known for fueling the popularity of Web sites like YouTube and MySpace, is rapidly taking hold in advertising.
Dozens of entries were submitted for the Current TV contest, and Ibele's commercial will run for the next one to two months on the network. In the coming weeks, more user-generated ads for companies like L'Oréal and Toyota Motor will follow the Sony commercial.
"User-generated content is sort of the word of the day," said Anne Zehren, president of sales and marketing for Current, which was started in August. "And I think smart marketers will start harnessing that."
Current relies on user-generated content for roughly one-third of its programming, from fashion features to foreign documentaries. The network operates under the theory that its programming will be more relevant if its audience, primarily 18 to 34 years old, has a voice in creating it. If people are interested, there is less of a risk that they will tune out in favor of other entertainment like the Internet and video games.