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[ugc3] Scott McDonald

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

Scott McDonald of Conde Nast gives the lunchtime talk. He reminds us of how big CN is: magazines, websites, events, digital apps.

His numbers show that lots of people are creating content.

UGC issues for “traditional” [the quotes are on Scott’s slide] media: Brand compatitiblity (vs. “snark/coarsening”. Commoditization of content (all gets treated the same). Value as “listening post” (media can hear their readers). DRM when everyone is an aggregator. Monetization.

Advertisers are reluctant to jump in, Scott says. They worry about brand. UGC video is cheap and plentifu. but it’s not selling. The CPMs are deeply discounted. Ad revenues are not going to UGC and marketing execs are pessimistic about this; only 22% think UGC is a “high-growth opportunity.” 73% of advertisers say they definitely will not run ads on UGC.

So, what are the other models? You can incorporate UGC on a site as a “retention device.” [CNN’s turn-the-channel “iReports”?] Authentication fees on microblogging sites? E.g., Twitter charges DominosPizza to assure that it in fact represents Dominos Pizza. How about sponsorships on crowdsourcing sites such as Digg? E.g., at Reddit, maybe a sponsor could be an “amplifier” that announces that each thumbs up counts 5x. [Wha??? Wouldn’t that destroy Reddit’s credibility?] Finally, there’s cross-platform marketing. Only 10% of visitors to a mag’s site are subscribers. So, cannibalization isn’t a worry. But how do you make money on the web site? Ads only work for very big sites. But,” online subscriptions sales are sweet.” People who subscribe that way have higher value than subscribers through other means: They’ve sought out the mag, they pay with a credit card, they are more likely to take an automatic renewal contract, they get added to the email list, etc.

He points to Conde Nast examples of UGC. Contests for designs, NYer caption contest, GQ tips on good grooming. [These are as much UGC as a man-in-the-street interview.]

He points to Reddit, a CN site. He acknowledges the bad language on the page. It produces no subscription revenues. They’re starting to have sponsored posts that still can be voted up or down.

Q: Are people dropping subscriptions because they can get the content for free online?
Scott: In general, no. The conditions for reading mags are special, e.g., reading one on the subway to create zone of privacy. [A good e-reader will destroy this.] For news mags, that’s more of an issue.

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