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How User Content Will Change Everything

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Google, the advent of weblogs and social networks, and the proliferation of broadband Internet are changing the advertising world in two very important ways: first by loosening the grip advertisers hold on content; and second by exchanging that control of content with better targeting and return on investment. These seismic shifts make a sound that is the death rattle of traditional media.

With Google’s AdSense automatically placing contextual advertising on weblogs and websites, advertisers have little to no control of where their ads pop up. Advertisers “pulling” an ad spot because of content is not only an improbability, but it is unwise. The reach of those ads outweighs the potential offensive association with content creators.

Robert Young, in a guest column at Om Malik’s broadband blog believes blogs are driving the shift. He uses MySpace.com as an example of a medium that, though content is uncontrollable, has the potential to command high rates.

“The result is clear,” writes Young, “MySpace ranks higher than Google in terms of pageviews.”

Evidence of the faith in that potential comes in other numbers when News Corp. shells out half a billion dollars for the 4th most visited domain on the Internet.

While the numbers themselves are impressive, the “who” behind the numbers are even more so. Why, besides traffic, is MySpace.com so valuable? The largest percentage of users at MySpace.com, who continually produce content about products, lifestyles, media, fads, et cetera, are in the teen demographic-the same demographic that helped launch MTV back in the early days of cable television.

Not only is the information provided the most tenacious trend monitors on the globe extraordinarily valuable to marketers, but as consumers, teens and young adults are worth their weight in platinum. They don’t typically save money. They spend money. And let’s not forget the loyalty that comes with winning someone over at young age. Advertisers have a ripe opportunity to win lifelong customers.

MySpace.com is so valuable because, as Pew/Internet reports, 57% of online teens are content creators-they create weblogs and webpages, post original artwork, photography, stories and videos. They generate buzz, buzz, and more buzz.

“Teens are often much more enthusiastic authors and readers of blogs than their adult counterparts. Teen bloggers, led by older girls, are a major part of this tech-savvy cohort. Teen bloggers are more fervent internet users than non-bloggers and have more experience with almost every online activity in the survey,” according to the report.

This suggests a trend that, over time, will continue to grow. Social networking websites will become as necessary to teens and young adults as the right tennis shoes, the best cell phone, and the hottest date. And advertisers need to be there, period.

And now MySpace.com is starting its own music label with the help of Universal Music Group’s Interscope Records-the same label that launched rappers Emminem and 50 Cent. Yahoo! knows the value of teens too as it announced its plans to debut a music video every day.

The kind of targeting made available by these networks is precise and timely. Just check out the success of $67 (that’s not a typo) start-up namesdatabase.com, with Googlish simple format and older demographic. Within two years, membership has climbed to over 17 million registered users. Dave Carpe has more.

How User Content Will Change Everything
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