January 25, 2007

Consumer Generated Media 2.0: users create context

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context.jpgWe may currently be within the Web 2.0 landscape, but the advertising that frames it up is still reminiscent of a 1.0 era. Contextual advertising remains infamous for not receiving enough human touch. Consumer Generated Media, as adverters would like to define it, continues to assume that the 'consumer' wants to actively create propaganda for a brand when it's not an organic/natural occurence. MySpace, which has millions of active users and even more ads, has yet to utilize the potential of a user-chosen advertising system. Contextual and CGM advertising seem to be on the edge of easily becoming a 2.0 platform in which users are able to create their own context (as they already do), including the leaderboards and skyscrapers that frame it up.

Flip.com is taking the step forward and letting teen girls have control over its advertising:

"The intriguing aspect here is the control users will have over the ads and the form some ads will take. Girls will be able to decide which brands they see for the traditional ads. There’s also a kind of DIY product placement fitting in with the notion of “Flip books”; as the users create their books they’ll have access to items like Nordstrom-supplied images of models that aren’t visibly from the store unless clicked. Clean & Clear will provide logo-and-product-less word icons. Users will be able to write what they think about the products in their books. That user control and influence makes it attractive".

Obviously, many paying advertisers may be quick to object to the CGM 2.0 platform, but the more it becomes accepted, the more it may challenge advertising to a new understanding of Web 2.0. There is a large online audience of people who won't create a Chevy Tahoe ad, but also hate that the most annoying, flashy banners for mortgages get put on their MySpace pages. There's also advertisers who would pay much more for being placed in a social network that is actually relevant by choice, rather than by keywords. So, while Word Of Mouth remains the number one source behind the majority of purchase decisions, why not create advertising that truly begins to leverage it?

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