Going Gaga over Citizen Advertising

Church of the Customer blog has the lowdown on user-generated advertisements making it to the Super Bowl this year. But first, see this CBS News article for a view from mainstream media.

This is not good news. The shift from professionally produced to user-generated advertising makes us poorer in both economic and cultural terms. The arrival of user-created commercials at Super Bowl XLI represents the American Idolization of traditional entertainment — the degeneration of professional content into a “talent show” for amateurs.

In complement, CBS was really mournful in the rest of the reporting, with phrases like “the professional creator is being “disintermediated.”, the “tsumani” of downward pressure on wages created by new technology” because amateur productions cost a minscule fraction of professional ones.

Amid all the hoopla of traditional advertising agencies dying or making a renaissance with this new channel of ad-making, I found this excerpt from Church of the Customer insightful:

Madison Avenue is not in the business of creating fans — it’s in the business of widespread message distribution. But Mad Ave’s influence and energy are fading not just because technology-assisted creativity is commoditizing their business, but because citizen-created content doesn’t care about New York’s infatuation with status and positioning debates. The power centers of influence are shifting to Google’s server farms and thousands of online communities. The fans have co-opted Madison Avenue’s work. Super Bowl ads are a circus freak show, and that’s how about much influence they carry because the minutiae of product, brand and company discussions are being shaped in online forums, which Google follows like a studious court reporter. The points made in those forums are often carried forward to offline discussions, where they’re added to the mixing bowl discussions of personal experiences of people and ultimately, their purchase decisions. There’s your advertising.

Change is good if its for the better. The dynamic range of quality for amateur productions is undoubtedly way higher than professional counterparts. But feeling apologetic for slow-moving dinosaurs in the advertising world who do not understand the new realities of social media today is wrong.

Who feels sorry for retailers with great products who cannot afford the huge fees of ad agencies? Who feels sorry for the customers who pay inflated prices? Why feel sorry for traditional advertising when you can use web forums, blogs, podcasts to reach out and interact with your consumers directly and more personally?

An example of a user-gen ad here

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