User Generated (Dis) Content
Over the last week we have seen a divergence of fortune among user generated content (UGC) companies. Google, of which YouTube was a path blazer in UGC, had a strong quarter. Facebook continues to perform well and Twitter continues to struggle. Yelp remains on the ropes. Meerkat, Periscope and many others are nipping at their heals, or offering broadcast video opportunity, as the next iteration of UGC. The grand “we” seems to want to perform, exhibit and stream themselves. Investors have been excited. Fans have materialized but growth has been a challenge.
It turns out that some in the audience and more than a few advertisers are weary and skeptical regarding the value of much user generated content. Yelp, Twitter and others are facing some issues with audience growth and advertiser excitement. Some audience-challenged firms are still growing revenue, at rates that many would envy. Yelp and Twitter have run into headwinds and have stock prices and loud detractors to prove it. The same public that wants to be able to save, edit and broadcast its snacks, triumphs, failures, trips, selfie stick adventures… remains underwhelmed by much of the growing pool of its is own content that is available. We can’t say we disagree with the disdain in all cases.
Firms and creators love the idea of getting “compelling” free content and or broadcasting some or all aspects of their lives. After all, we are allegedly living among many who are post privacy in their predilections. Why not seek out and harness the multitude of stifled voices? From citizen journalism to every cell phone a studio, it is enticing to imagine monetizing the whims, oddities, opinions and advices of the billions that are online. Many have and are setting out to build the pipes, editing suites and digital billboards that will attract millions of exhibitionists, voyeurs and advertisers. This has been a dynamic space. YouTube alone has 4 billion video views a day from well over a 1 billion users and may have more traffic, much not logged in, than Facebook.
We have begun to become interested in just how fickle the fickle public has become about its own content. This may be just the poetic justice of shy voyeur masses taking passive revenge on the exhibitions few. Or it could be the relative ease of generated and storing UGC and the rapid spread of distribution outlets have led folks to question the value and ignore much of the content being produced and broadcast. Text, became photo, branched into sound and is well down the road to video. Advertisers have learned to love and use the content that folks love to reveal. This has enabled precise and more microtargeting.