User generated advertising has become one of the latest fads in the online advertising industry. An article on Advertising Age warns brands that “in more and more cases, fan-generated ads trend toward uninspired, cynical and just downright bad.”
Several well known brands such as Kraft Foods, Unilever, Heinz etc. have started contests, wherein, their users are asked to provide suggestions for the names of certain products and also to give an idea for an ad.
Unfortunately, most of the ideas received and accepted by the concerned brands have not yielded very favourable reviews. In fact, most of the ads can be described as ranging from being unintentionally funny to being downright lacklustre.
San Diego based brand strategist, Denise Lee Yohn says, “It’s almost like a parody, and it’s being treated like a game. That’s definitely affecting the quality of what we’re seeing.” According to her such campaigns lack authenticity and may even result in a backlash against the brand.
Jackie Huba, co-author of a book called Citizen Marketer says that marketers should instead lay much more stress on word-of-mouth publicity. These contests are losing their novelty factor now.
While it is certainly true that the public in general may provide some very good ideas for an ad, it is up to the brand concerned to exercise some caution while selecting and displaying only those ads which could be classified as intelligent or inspiring.
In fact “contextual” has become the new buzz word for online advertising. It would be a good idea for brands to to gain popularity by concentrating on making ads that would seem contextual to the user.
Apart from concentrating on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, advertisers should also pay attention to other sources such as StumbleUpon to reach the maximum number of users. And, they should also pay more attention to building links for organic search rankings and referral traffic.