31 March 2006

Making User-Generated Content Safe for Advertisers

As young, upscale consumers spend more time with user-generated content at sites like Facebook, MySpace, Boing Boing and Digg (and less time watching TV or reading magazines), advertisers are eager to market themselves on these sites. But for certain brands, especially those accustomed to well-regulated media environments, it can be quite a leap.

Fox, the new owners of MySpace, are hoping to make that leap easier by top-down advertiser-friendly content filtering. From MediaPost:
"...perhaps most importantly to advertisers, the company has added resources to monitor the site's mass of user-generated content. Advertisers have been reticent to experiment with MySpace since the content can be risque and, in some cases, offensive. News Corp. now reviews 2 million images a day and has removed 200,000 profiles it felt included 'questionable material.' Still, Levinsohn said, the content is practically infinite with 66 million profiles, making it impossible to inspect it all.

'It's not for every advertiser, clearly,' Levinsohn said.... [But at the same time:] 'We're turning very much into a youth marketing company.'

The risk, of course, is that this approach may damage the credibilty of the service to its millions of members. The financial liability of that situation is far greater than the lost revenue from a handful of conservative advertisers who need another year or two to remember that -- as they've always done -- they need to take their brand messages to their customers wherever those customers choose to hang out. And sending a corporate parent to chaperone the dance might turn away some of the cool kids that advertisers most want to reach.


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