Where to Find Consumers Who Want to Build Your Ads

XLNTads Hopes Marketers Grab Professional-Looking Creative From Tech-Savvy Types at Bargain Prices

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The NFL spot. The Doritos' "Crash" spot. While the Super Bowl has been lauded as a turning point for consumer-generated advertising, the fact is that the best examples are more often from independent producers, filmmakers or moonlighting agency creatives as opposed to average Joes.
Change via chips: Doritos spot was seen as a turning point in consumer-generated advertising.
Change via chips: Doritos spot was seen as a turning point in consumer-generated advertising.

One start-up hopes to take advantage of that. XLNTads is aiming to be the connection between independent types savvy with their iMovie software and Madison Avenue.

Piece of the action
Think of it as Revver for the 30-second spot. Like Revver, which pays a share of ad revenue to the video producers that use the site, XLNTads is part of a cottage industry that has popped up to help independent video producers tap into at least a piece of the fortune normally reserved for big-budget agencies and Hollywood dealmakers.

It works like this: Marketers upload creative briefs and assets to XLNTads. Consumers come by and surf the opportunities, picking which ones they'd like to work on. Consumers submit entries, XLNTads reviews them for approval and they run live on the site, which serves as a consumer-facing repository of commercials. Brands can peruse the options created.

But a 30-second spot is still a dirty word, regardless of who made it. And having consumers -- or creative and iMovie-savvy consumers -- craft the ads is a narrow definition of the broader, more meaningful concept that consumers are involved in the marketing of brands through everything they do, including writing product reviews, blogging and even offline word-of- mouth.

PR value of consumer ads
Rick Parkhill, founder and chairman, thinks the PR value itself will be a reason for marketers to engage with XLNTads and believes the fact consumers create the spots will give viewers more of an incentive to watch. He intends to use XLNTads as a branding vehicle that alerts them to that fact. "Looking down the road," he said, "if a brand starts picking up these ads and using them elsewhere, on the web and on TV, you hear 'The following is another XLNT ad.' It's another reason to lean forward and think, 'This was created by somebody just like me.'"

What may be more compelling to marketers is the cost of tapping the low cost of producing ads in such a way, something the company readily admits.

"The average cost of a Super Bowl spot was $350,000," said CEO Neil Perry. "Some auto manufacturers spend $600,000 to $650,000 to do a single campaign. We say take that same amount of money, pay $20,000 [for creative], and that leaves you more to reinvest in media, in delivering the message."
XLNTads Ceo Neil Perry
XLNTads Ceo Neil Perry

While the venture is going after big brands -- helped along by Messrs. Parkhill and Perry's connections -- the price equation may be attractive to the market of small and medium-size advertisers, the same types a company like Spotrunner is targeting.

'Democratization of content'
Sarah Fay, president of Isobar U.S., calls it "the democratization of creative content" and believes big brands will be interested. But she's skeptical that advertisers will get into the mode of regularly having consumers create the 30-second spot, the idea being that once it's been done a few times, it's unlikely to have the same punch.

"It's not about reach and frequency, about the entirety of the audience you reach," said Ms. Fay, who's searching for the right brand and strategy to try out the service. "It's about reaching a small group of creative influentials or wannabes and amplifying that out to the bigger group. You have to pull the right levers to figure out what's going to make it interesting for the broader population because you don't want to do it just for the sake of doing it."
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