UGC in News

So we‘ve talked user, distributor, content and platforms. Now let‘s talk shop. But this is exactly where the debate deepens. Are the big brands wary of associating themselves with user generated content due to issues of copyright infringement and quality checks?

Yahoo Groups‘ IM Swaminathan is of the opinion that availability of UGC has had a huge impact on advertising and PR with more opportunities for viral marketing. "Bloggers are invited along with traditional media to press conferences and product launches. Marketers are now using them as samplers before launching their product into the market."

But all talks of UGC being advertiser friendly are still premature? The biggest hurdle is the revenue model adopted by mainstream medium. In the case of news and music channels, there are no set remunerations for the content provided. While news content is packaged as ‘social responsibility of citizens‘, music channels are still conducting contests or purely providing a platform for good talent.

In this case, Thakkar tries to explain Sumo.TV‘s revenue model. "In our case its the broadcaster who pays for content. The revenue received from the broadcaster is then shared by all parties involved. Revenue also comes from the mobile downloads, which is where the operator comes in.
What happens in the UK where we have a 24-hour channel is that people send photos and MMS‘ to us, and we aggregate content and choose on the basis of relevance. We then process it - restore it to make it broadcast quality. In fact, we‘re developing our own restoration tool. People then download this content via the mobile, so we need to have proper license in place and contact the user for his content. This way we make sure their IPR is protected."

The company is still looking at television to distribute this user generated content since television in India has a "long tell effect" he says. Thakkar also argues that traditional media like print and television are themselves not very encouraging when it comes to user generated content. "Consumers who have so far had only the option of professionally produced content are neither aware nor proactive about this new genre."

The next wave?

Web 2.0 is a social experiment and like any other experiment it could fail. But it‘s an experiment that has allowed scores of anonymous faces, voices and all kinds of talent to crop up and have their moment in the sun. By extension that also means that a lot of content out there is downright nonsensical. The pay per click or pay per download model would perhaps ensure that a lot of this material is either filtered or relegated to the ‘back pages‘.

Industry watchers however are more optimistic that in the long run there would be a shift from amateur content to professionally generated content. And this is when proper monetary systems would also be put into place.

As this UGC juggernaut rolls on some of the issues that it will have to contend with are - copyright infringement, monetization and multiple platforms. But for now, I am completely immersed in reading up on every blog and site that talks about user generated content. I‘ve also made up my mind to shoot my own short film. Any takers?


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