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User generated advertising

Thought I’d share an idea that I’ve been toying with for a while. A way, I think, Facebook and Twitter can generate revenues.

In this era of User generated content and ‘brands’ like Facebook and twitter which have high user engagement but little revenue I wonder if there is an opportunity to create a new form of communication.

I am calling this user generated advertising.

The principle is quite simple really.

There are three parts to this .

1. Creation : From a pre populated ‘tray’ of brand devices, owned by the advertiser, an user creates his/her own ad. eg If Dell’s array comprises the logo and the line ‘Take Your Own Path’, then an user can create an ad using those two elements and anything else she/he thinks brings the brand to life. Think of the tray as ‘mandatories’

2. Submission : This created ad can then be placed on the user’s own page on Facebook. Or his/her blog.

3. Payment : The advertiser pays the host eg Facebook per click. Say 1 cent a click. (all clicks lead to a generic landing page for onward discussion dialogue). The host splits this income with the creator/user.

This, to my mind, has many advantages.

For the blogger/Facebooker :

1. Money o f course

2. Fame through creativity

3. Another avenue to show off to her/his friends

For Facebook/bloghost

1. Money and a revenue model which they currently seem to lack.

The Advertiser

This is a great research tool.

Obviously user generated ads are likely to be far more customised than advertiser created ones. The ads will reflect the user and will be targeted at her/his friends.

Only bands that the user relates to will get ads created.

Only ads that are attractive/creative will get the clicks.

So an advertiser benefits from

1. Saving on advertising creation costs

2.  Getting highly targeted advertising

3.  Knowing the kind of advertising that appeals to which target profile

4. Provides huge testing opportunity as they can decide what needs to be in the ‘tray’. This can change by geography, season, user

A similar model can work for Twitter, where it is obviously copy driven and revenue flows by number of Retweets.

Does this sound like a workable model?

Will I get money if anyone picks up this and executes?


  1. Sreenesh
    October 5, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Hi Harish- Very good one. But my twopence-

    1/ the creative developed will be all over the place if there is not clear direction given by the brand. Like, for example, Mastercard- ‘….for everything else there is MC’ or ‘Kodak moment’, ‘Just Do It’ or closer home ‘Bingo! madness’. So I presume a format should be prescribed your creative tray.

    2/ I think the compensation to the creator should not be monetary. It should be more in the lines of an airlines’ ‘air-miles’ program where you earn points that can be redeemed by the creator and his friends at the brand stores. Only such a reward will encourage true brand lovers.

    3/ Display- I have always thought that there is a very strong ad display potential in FB albums. Though I have no data behind me, my gut-feel tells me that the photo album monopolizes most of a FB user’s time. So, the user should have the option of the creative tray appearing alongside the photographs he ( AND his friends upload ) so that just some minor tinkering can make it into an ad AND at the same time it makes sense too and doesn’t stick out like just another funny banner.

    Or the ad he designs can be easily ‘tagged’ to photographs uploaded by him or his friends.

    Makes sense?

  2. Sreenesh
    October 28, 2009 at 4:31 am

    Hi Harish- Just came across a case study in this zone. In one early experiment in advertising collaboration, GM invited consumers to a
    newly built Web site that offered video clips and simple editing tools they could use to create ads for the Chevy Tahoe SUV. The site gained online fame after environmentalists hijacked the site’s tools to build and post ads on the site condemning the Tahoe as an eco-unfriendly gas-guzzler. GM didn’t take the ads down, which caused even more online buzz.

    Heres the story http://news.cnet.com/GM-SUV-spoofed-by-environmentalists/2100-1024_3-6056692.html


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