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Is "PGC" The Next Big Opportunity In Online Advertising?

Imb_thereservationtv_2 I have a former colleague of mine who left Ogilvy to focus on his own production company and create video projects. His group, g14 Productions, has just released a fantastic online video show worth checking out. It’s called The Reservation and features weekly episodes of 3-4 minutes of a show that is a cross between 24 and Heroes. You might be tempted to called this User Generated Content (UGC) and lump it into the range of video being produced and uploaded to YouTube (some of which is highly entertaining, I’ll admit). The difference, though, is that g14 is doing this for a living.

They are professionals by definition, and though they are distributing their work right now for free online, it seems that we need a different way to talk about the content they are producing. As the tools get better and better for delivering higher quality video online, I suspect you will start to see more shows like The Reservation make their way online as a distribution model. Just as I subscribe to blogs in my reader, perhaps one day I will get my episodes of the online video shows I follow in a download each morning to watch on the train or while on the treadmill. In a world where anyone can create content, UGC is going to start facing competition from PGC (Professionally Generated Content). To a degree, it already is.

Many of the most popular blogs online today are being staffed by journalists and professional writers. Some of the images on Flickr are so good you can barely distinguish them from the ones on Getty Images or another stock photo seller. Shows like The Reservation are being distributed online with a production quality far beyond your typical scratchy YouTube fodder. What is all of this pointing to? Professionally Generated Content, whether you buy into the goofy PGC acronym or not, is already becoming a force of social media. As the quality of this content produced by individual professionals continues to improve, this is going to offer big opportunities to brands for advertising and marketing against professionally produced content. As these professionals start to earn a living from the content they create, they are going to be open to support from these marketers as well. So here’s the big question: are you paying enough attention to the opportunities for marketing through PGC?

30 thoughts on “Is "PGC" The Next Big Opportunity In Online Advertising?”

  1. PGC is not only a great opportunity for producers like your friend (I enjoyed “The Reservation”, btw), but also gives even small businesses the opportunity for “TV advertising”.

    Thanks for raising our awareness. Maybe our company will get someone to help us with a cooking show….

    Reply
  2. PGC is not only a great opportunity for producers like your friend (I enjoyed “The Reservation”, btw), but also gives even small businesses the opportunity for “TV advertising”.

    Thanks for raising our awareness. Maybe our company will get someone to help us with a cooking show….

    Reply
  3. I love the idea as it is much more inexpensive to produce than a TV ad. Recognizing that not everyone uses their computer for entertainment, the market is still growing, and with content like this, it will help it to grow at a much faster pace. Particularly if we can get email alerts that the content is coming. I would love to get “The Caveman” in my inbox!

    Reply
  4. I love the idea as it is much more inexpensive to produce than a TV ad. Recognizing that not everyone uses their computer for entertainment, the market is still growing, and with content like this, it will help it to grow at a much faster pace. Particularly if we can get email alerts that the content is coming. I would love to get “The Caveman” in my inbox!

    Reply
  5. First and foremost, I’d like to thank Rohit for using our show as an example of PGC done right online. Very flattering!

    I think brands, both big and small, should start to seriously consider more of the professional online content as a part of their advertising campaign. And that’s not just because I’m a content creator. 🙂 While I was at Ogilvy, I was constantly preaching the idea of organic partnerships between content creators and businesses – that is, one where the creator and business work together to integrate the businesses message into the show. Having been on both sides of the creator/business fence, I feel like this is the most beneficial arrangement for both. Online audiences up to this point are less than thrilled about seeing a pre- or post-roll commercial on a 3 minute show, but are much more accepting about sponsorships or a unique “product placement”. Generally, with that type of sponsorship, audiences see the business as “getting it” and helping those audience members to be able to continue to enjoy their online show. I feel like using this as a part of a larger overall marketing strategy can really strengthen a brand, by potentially creating evangelists for that brand.

    Carol, glad you enjoyed the show, and I hope you keep watching! I would be happy to help your company create or find a cooking show partner, and I hope you don’t mind if I drop you a line via your “info” email address to chat more about it. If I can’t help you specifically, then I’m sure I can help you find a creator online who can. 🙂

    Susan, I think it very interesting to hear someone say that they wouldn’t mind email alerts about content. We hadn’t really thought of that, relying more on folks using RSS subscriptions to keep apprised of new episodes. Is there any reason you might prefer email alerts as opposed to an RSS feed or iTunes subscription?

    Lastly, thanks to everyone who checked out the show! We at g14 hope you enjoy it and keep watching! Thanks again Rohit!

    Matthew

    Reply
  6. First and foremost, I’d like to thank Rohit for using our show as an example of PGC done right online. Very flattering!

    I think brands, both big and small, should start to seriously consider more of the professional online content as a part of their advertising campaign. And that’s not just because I’m a content creator. 🙂 While I was at Ogilvy, I was constantly preaching the idea of organic partnerships between content creators and businesses – that is, one where the creator and business work together to integrate the businesses message into the show. Having been on both sides of the creator/business fence, I feel like this is the most beneficial arrangement for both. Online audiences up to this point are less than thrilled about seeing a pre- or post-roll commercial on a 3 minute show, but are much more accepting about sponsorships or a unique “product placement”. Generally, with that type of sponsorship, audiences see the business as “getting it” and helping those audience members to be able to continue to enjoy their online show. I feel like using this as a part of a larger overall marketing strategy can really strengthen a brand, by potentially creating evangelists for that brand.

    Carol, glad you enjoyed the show, and I hope you keep watching! I would be happy to help your company create or find a cooking show partner, and I hope you don’t mind if I drop you a line via your “info” email address to chat more about it. If I can’t help you specifically, then I’m sure I can help you find a creator online who can. 🙂

    Susan, I think it very interesting to hear someone say that they wouldn’t mind email alerts about content. We hadn’t really thought of that, relying more on folks using RSS subscriptions to keep apprised of new episodes. Is there any reason you might prefer email alerts as opposed to an RSS feed or iTunes subscription?

    Lastly, thanks to everyone who checked out the show! We at g14 hope you enjoy it and keep watching! Thanks again Rohit!

    Matthew

    Reply
  7. Robit, I must respectfully disagree.

    The UGC trend of the last few years has been incredible. It’s interesting to watch, both through the lens of culture and business, how UGC has altered our every day lives. On the positive side, we’ve seen the empowerment of regular people to have a louder voice in this world (and the corresponding effect that has had on brands). On the negative side, we’ve seen some downward trend towards the lowest common denominator in the content we consume, largely paralleling the reality television trend. It’s harder to separate the signal from the noise.

    But what is “PGC” but the same thing we had before UGC, just through a new channel (one we now associate with UGC)?

    I don’t find it revolutionary that professional content producers leverage the same channels as the layman to distribute content. YouTube is a powerful distribution channel, and a pro would be remiss to ignore it. After all, Rohit, this very blog is PGC. You are a professional speaker and author, but you are leveraging the channel of UGC to spread your message.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I DO think you’re onto something really interesting here. What’s fascinating is that UGC can become PGC by virtue of being on the same channel. There is an opportunity for amateurs to go pro without going through the traditional channels, and there is an opportunity for the pro to dip his or her toes in the water before diving in head first.

    Channels like YouTube let independent professionals cut out the middleman content distributor. That means more profit for the quality content producer, less for the monopolist distributor who adds no value, and therefore a better deal for the consumer.

    So, maybe I am agreeing with you, but in a round-about way 🙂 Regardless, great read. Thanks for sparking this line of thinking in my head!

    Reply
  8. Robit, I must respectfully disagree.

    The UGC trend of the last few years has been incredible. It’s interesting to watch, both through the lens of culture and business, how UGC has altered our every day lives. On the positive side, we’ve seen the empowerment of regular people to have a louder voice in this world (and the corresponding effect that has had on brands). On the negative side, we’ve seen some downward trend towards the lowest common denominator in the content we consume, largely paralleling the reality television trend. It’s harder to separate the signal from the noise.

    But what is “PGC” but the same thing we had before UGC, just through a new channel (one we now associate with UGC)?

    I don’t find it revolutionary that professional content producers leverage the same channels as the layman to distribute content. YouTube is a powerful distribution channel, and a pro would be remiss to ignore it. After all, Rohit, this very blog is PGC. You are a professional speaker and author, but you are leveraging the channel of UGC to spread your message.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I DO think you’re onto something really interesting here. What’s fascinating is that UGC can become PGC by virtue of being on the same channel. There is an opportunity for amateurs to go pro without going through the traditional channels, and there is an opportunity for the pro to dip his or her toes in the water before diving in head first.

    Channels like YouTube let independent professionals cut out the middleman content distributor. That means more profit for the quality content producer, less for the monopolist distributor who adds no value, and therefore a better deal for the consumer.

    So, maybe I am agreeing with you, but in a round-about way 🙂 Regardless, great read. Thanks for sparking this line of thinking in my head!

    Reply
  9. Josh – thanks for the well thought out comment, I was actually waiting for someone to bring that point up because you are definitely right. It is becoming a very thin line and I do consider myself in this category as many other social media creators are likely to consider themselves. In the future, it will be very tough to distinguish “new media” from “traditional media” if it is the exact same people creating both …

    PS – don’t worry about the name typo!

    Reply
  10. Josh – thanks for the well thought out comment, I was actually waiting for someone to bring that point up because you are definitely right. It is becoming a very thin line and I do consider myself in this category as many other social media creators are likely to consider themselves. In the future, it will be very tough to distinguish “new media” from “traditional media” if it is the exact same people creating both …

    PS – don’t worry about the name typo!

    Reply
  11. Absolutely agree. I shared a similar point of view wiht Ad Age [https://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=125735] for their Crystal Ball 2.0 article.

    What’s really interesting I think, is when you combine this great content and inexpensive delivery channel with RSS feeds, and things like Google Reader. It’s like having my Tivo “now playing” lineup right on my laptop with new episodes being pushed directly to me.

    The interesting thing, I think, will be how long it takes to really figure out the length issue. The quality of the “Reservation” is great, but by trying to cram so much drama into 3 minutes it gets kind of hard to watch.

    3 min seems to be the preferred length, but I’d love to see some marketers experiment with longer form like 5-7 minutes and see if they can hold an audience. Would give you so much more creative freedom.

    Reply
  12. Absolutely agree. I shared a similar point of view wiht Ad Age [https://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=125735] for their Crystal Ball 2.0 article.

    What’s really interesting I think, is when you combine this great content and inexpensive delivery channel with RSS feeds, and things like Google Reader. It’s like having my Tivo “now playing” lineup right on my laptop with new episodes being pushed directly to me.

    The interesting thing, I think, will be how long it takes to really figure out the length issue. The quality of the “Reservation” is great, but by trying to cram so much drama into 3 minutes it gets kind of hard to watch.

    3 min seems to be the preferred length, but I’d love to see some marketers experiment with longer form like 5-7 minutes and see if they can hold an audience. Would give you so much more creative freedom.

    Reply
  13. A lot has been said here already. UGC and PGC are coming closer together: Right in front of our noses. We run our own web video production platform at moviebakery.com with plenty of film makers participating.

    We didn’t expect too much in terms of quality when we first started out a year ago. We were positively surprised though. And the video makers are getting better all the time. The quality of the videos they produce for our clients is improving with each project we are doing.

    Now what’s left for the Pros?
    The biggest value a “professional” can add these days is her/his expertise in guiding the “users”. I believe that the right mix is the dynamite recipe: A lot of young talent is grateful for a bit of guidance in what they are doing: They appreciate the quality feedback. A pro can mentor 50 or 100 artists and bring them to the next level. Now he is worth his money!

    Of course there is some amount of pain is involved in the current process. It is like industrial diamonds are all out of the sudden better than “real” ones and at the fraction of the cost. What do you do with your “real” stones?

    Many agencies will have to slash down their cost for content production and revamp their revenue model or they’ll eventually face some tough times.

    Reply
  14. A lot has been said here already. UGC and PGC are coming closer together: Right in front of our noses. We run our own web video production platform at moviebakery.com with plenty of film makers participating.

    We didn’t expect too much in terms of quality when we first started out a year ago. We were positively surprised though. And the video makers are getting better all the time. The quality of the videos they produce for our clients is improving with each project we are doing.

    Now what’s left for the Pros?
    The biggest value a “professional” can add these days is her/his expertise in guiding the “users”. I believe that the right mix is the dynamite recipe: A lot of young talent is grateful for a bit of guidance in what they are doing: They appreciate the quality feedback. A pro can mentor 50 or 100 artists and bring them to the next level. Now he is worth his money!

    Of course there is some amount of pain is involved in the current process. It is like industrial diamonds are all out of the sudden better than “real” ones and at the fraction of the cost. What do you do with your “real” stones?

    Many agencies will have to slash down their cost for content production and revamp their revenue model or they’ll eventually face some tough times.

    Reply
  15. Advertising for free seems like an impossible thing when heard. But there are several ways by which the cost of advertisement can be conserved, with the help of some imagination and creativity.

    A business wanting to advertise, can write articles related to their field of expertise that can be submitted to media and publications having interest in that particular field. The advertising article can have information about the company and dealership opportunity. Due to the rise in Internet users and websites, new websites have sprung up which offer free services. Articles can be written for these websites and they can be broadcasted for free, which will be viewed by hundreds of people everyday.

    Reply
  16. Advertising for free seems like an impossible thing when heard. But there are several ways by which the cost of advertisement can be conserved, with the help of some imagination and creativity.

    A business wanting to advertise, can write articles related to their field of expertise that can be submitted to media and publications having interest in that particular field. The advertising article can have information about the company and dealership opportunity. Due to the rise in Internet users and websites, new websites have sprung up which offer free services. Articles can be written for these websites and they can be broadcasted for free, which will be viewed by hundreds of people everyday.

    Reply
  17. Rohit: I like the acronym–there is a big difference between professional-level product and everyman content–and one of the neatest things is finding the “everyman” blogger or photographer who truly ascends to “professional” level–what a boon for all of us!

    Our organization’s communications department is finally taking its first exploratory steps into treating “PGC” online content as professional content. I’m the social networking arm of our web team, and I’m thrilled that our media folks are beginning to evaluate blogs and approach bloggers as legitimate “reporters,” thinking about them with the same serious, strategic approach as they do local newspapers and TV news programs. (And that they are open to learning a whole new etiquette for working with bloggers) And that they are considering online advertising in these online media with the same seriousness and strategic thinking they’ve used with newspapers and TV.

    As our relationships with photographers on Flickr grows, I hope to be able to leverage some of the amazing professional-quality work out there for our organization–exposing a larger audience to these amazing artists at the same time.

    Reply
  18. Rohit: I like the acronym–there is a big difference between professional-level product and everyman content–and one of the neatest things is finding the “everyman” blogger or photographer who truly ascends to “professional” level–what a boon for all of us!

    Our organization’s communications department is finally taking its first exploratory steps into treating “PGC” online content as professional content. I’m the social networking arm of our web team, and I’m thrilled that our media folks are beginning to evaluate blogs and approach bloggers as legitimate “reporters,” thinking about them with the same serious, strategic approach as they do local newspapers and TV news programs. (And that they are open to learning a whole new etiquette for working with bloggers) And that they are considering online advertising in these online media with the same seriousness and strategic thinking they’ve used with newspapers and TV.

    As our relationships with photographers on Flickr grows, I hope to be able to leverage some of the amazing professional-quality work out there for our organization–exposing a larger audience to these amazing artists at the same time.

    Reply

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Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

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