Sramana Mitra: You said there are certain segments that you can reach through these user-generated videos but not through the regular brand messages. Can you give us an example of these segments?
Daphne Kwon: We tested a women’s beauty product and tested it against a “how to” video that was professionally created. What we found was that the women who said they were moved by the professional video overlapped only 2.7% with the women who said they were moved only by the user-generated video.
What we need to do next is try to figure out who that group is. The group who was moved by the user-generated video is definitely a growing group. We are always saying, “They are additive, so do both. Do the professional one and the user-generated one.” TV commercials are very strong in emotion and overall brand halo, but not very specific on the product. On our videos, we are weak on those things but strong about product specifics. We show product convenience, comparison, lifestyle, etc. Those have already been identified as persuasive, but users naturally gravitated toward talking about things that commercials and the professional marketing messages did not. They wanted to talk about what elicits emotion to make you remember [a product]. But users want to talk about things that are important. When you talk to a friend about how you love a mascara, you are thinking about very specific things you like about it – the brush, whether it was small enough to fit in your purse, etc. These are characteristics that are very specific to your lifestyle. When was the last time you saw that in a commercial? Those are the things commercials have shied away from.
So, we address very different elements of persuasiveness with user-generated content than professional videos. Who those people are we still need to do research to find out, but I think you can probably guess what the demo is or what the habits are of people who are looking for authentic credentialing at this point.
SM: Do I summarize this right if I say that the user-generated content is more like an infomercial as opposed to a real commercial?
DK: Infomercials are scripted. It is a new form of video. It is one that consumers naturally gravitate toward. We don’t script them – we don’t give them the hierarchy of what they do. We ask them to talk about the product, how it does or doesn’t fit into their lifestyle and show it in use. But we never script them by saying, “Start with this, move to this, move to that.” It is very natural for [the people in the videos,] and that is what we capture. It was a big surprise that naturally consumers will hit these highly persuasive elements that comScore had been looking for from professional commercials. We had no idea at the time that it got tested. Users would naturally, with no scripting or structure, be so persuasive in the videos they created. It makes sense now, but at the time we were very nervous and we didn’t know if the videos would be seen as persuasive at all.
SM: What segments on the customer/brand side are adopting this particular phenomenon of using user-generated content for their marketing?
DK: People who are investing digitally. Our earliest conglomerate was Procter & Gamble. They are leaders in the digital space and are constantly trying new things. To me, it is less about if they are spending social money. It is more that they realize people are moving from TV and print, they are moving online and they need digital content. I recently met a client who said, “We are in a content crisis.” If you think about a brand manager and what their worries are, and then you think about a digital brand manager – a brand manager’s job is to get some marketing message up. How many places does a digital brand manager need to think about? It is out of control. It wasn’t Facebook three years ago. It wasn’t YouTube five years ago. There was not Google+. They didn’t have to think about these things. Now they have to get content for so many places like Twitter, Pinterest, and all the others I mentioned before. They are in a content crisis, trying to figure out how to get content out on these platforms. Then it can’t be crazy stuff. When [brands] do a campaign and you think of user-generated content, what you are commenting on is the content they are trying to get, not the content users actually submitted. That [content] went dark and never got shown again except for maybe a few [videos]. Those that went dark and never get shown again. So it was just the contest itself that was the content. That died after three months.
We are trying to create content that continues to live to help other consumers and that can be distributed digitally to all those touch points. A consumer can now be introduced to a product on any digital touch point – on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Amazon, Walmart, etc. Marketers are in an insane challenge on how to get their message out to consumers on all those digital touch points. That is something consumers can help create on behalf of other consumers.
SM: My synthesis of what you are saying is that right now content marketing is an important part of marketing. Content as a marketing vehicle has become very important, especially because of all the social media sharing that is going on. Stuffing all these different channels with content has become a more integral part of any marketing campaign. However, mostly the brands that are trying to market are not experts in generating content. They are experts in working with creative agencies that are generating commercials, but they are not media companies – that is, expert in generating content. What you are pointing out is that there is a class of content that can be created from users that can really fit into that content marketing need and can be leveraged all over social media.
DK: Yes, and I thank you so much for uncovering that. Everything you said is 100% correct. At Expo we often say, “Retailers also – not just the brands.” Retailers are also turning into media companies.