Ad:tech's "State of the Industry": digital UGC ads

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SAN FRANCISCO - The convergence of user-generated and professionally created content defines the state of the marketing industry, according to an ad:tech panel yesterday.

In a session titled "State of the Industry," executives discussed the challenges presented by user-generated content and opt-out technologies. Bob Moore, chief creative officer at Publicis USA, is concerned that companies may lose control of their brands if they give too much power to the consumer.

"The good news for creatives is that this really is a golden era for creative - there are more ways to reach people than ever before," Mr. Moore said. "But given that there are so many ways to opt out, you have to create brands as destinations today. You have to create a brand that people want to hang with - like Nike, Sony, Apple or Wal-Mart have done. Brands that offer an emotional connection that people will naturally gravitate toward will win out."

Online video is a big area for growth, and marketers need to know how to define this trend to communicate with consumers.

"We need to be careful about defining online video as user generated - if we do that, we miss an opportunity of what digital video can do as a an advertising medium," said Sheryl Rothenburg of the Interactive Advertising Bureau. "We are staring to see a lot of content that is true, professionally created content. There is an enormous opportunity to combine the sights and sounds of television with the Internet, and that has huge potential for marketers."

But it is not just about user-generated versus professionally created content since the lines are starting to blur.

"Words create worlds, and if you don't have the right word to frame it then you don't have the right world," said Barry James Folsom, general manager at Connect Home Solutions, corporate vice president at Motorola. "It's about short form whether it is professional or not. Cell phones are video snacking and consumers don't care if it's professional or user generated."

But good content is still the trick, and consumers will play a part in deciding which content is good and which is bad.

"What we're seeing is the evolution of a media business, where the best stuff will win out because everybody has editorial concerns and screens out what is bad," said Ted McConnell, director of Interactive Innovations at Procter and Gamble.

Despite carriers offering Internet and wireless packages with more opt-out advertising options for consumers, there is still money to be made for advertisers.

"In the scramble for money in the tug between carriers and the media companies, sometimes I think the advertiser gets lost," said Mr. McConnell. "The set top box will be the catalyst for all of that tugging in the industry."

The shift from TV to online video means more for measurement models and in the end means more relevancy for consumers.

"Now it's about experimentation - there are no real metrics to measure engagement, but everyone is working on it," Ms. Rothenburg said. "I think, from our perspective, we have to be careful [about] creating metrics and standards that inhibit the evolution of the technology and innovation."

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