No roof rollers
At this point you could be forgiven for wincing at the thought of yet another column on consumer-generated content. "Oh brother, he's about to tell me how Snapple the cat now has 1,238 cat friends on MySpace, or how Jimmy Seabrook of Grand Forks, N.D., filmed his brother Zack Jr. rolling off the roof of their dad's shed while singing 'O Canada!"'
But this is not a story about consumer-generated content, nor is it about giving up control or any of the other slightly unrealistic admonishments that we sometimes dole out. Because Peeler, Otalvaro and DePew are not consumers; they're "prosumers." And their content is not the hit-or-miss homemade stuff with the inherent unpredictability that, rightly, frightens the stuffing out of marketers looking for a media vehicle.
A fishing channel
Peeler is a commercial producer for KREZ TV in Durango, Colo. He also does some freelance -- provided, of course it doesn't clash with his day job. Most pertinently he's been creating an internet TV channel called theanglingchannel.com, which features everything from people float fishing in Kamchatka, Russia, to a primer on the Guadalupe Bass, "state fish of Texas."
Otalvaro was once an illustrator and assistant at McCann and DMB&B. He went on to work at Fabrica for Olivier Toscani, who created the controversial Benetton campaigns of the '90s, and later became creative editor on Benetton's Colors magazine. But today he's working with his brothers, down in Miami, building Barrio305.com, a web TV service producing exclusive, on-demand reggaeton music videos and other original urban-Hispanic-culture content.
DePew is a TV producer who quit her day job when she had her first daughter, Ally, now 6. About that time she moved to Aurora, Colo. Remembering how isolated she'd felt when she first had kids, she founded momme.tv. She holds parties where moms chat on video and takes short video "MomCasts" from mothers all over America.
Not consumer-content generators
Peeler, Otalvaro and DePew are just three examples from a growing army of video producers who should not really be lumped in with the consumer content generators who've stolen so many headlines this year. Sure, like your average YouTuber, they're benefiting from new technologies and the long-tail economy and are bringing a consumer sensibility to their work. But they're also making use of professional experience and are building businesses, not just entertaining their friends.
What's more, through their experience and ability in targeting interest groups, as well as new technology and service providers such as Brightcove or Roo, they can find meaningful audiences across a range of sites -- audiences that can be measured and, most importantly, can be re-aggregated into the kinds of numbers that actually mean something to advertisers.
(Disclosure: All of the above use Brightcove's tools and affiliate network of websites. Although Brightcove didn't pitch me this story, it did help me to find these examples.)
Alvin Toffler term
Prosumers was a term coined by Alvin Toffler in 1980 to describe a blurring of the roles of producer and consumer (nice bit of futurecasting, Al) but has since been reinterpreted to describe consumers of technical equipment who may be amateurs but have the knowledge of professionals. It's the kind of jargonistic term that journalists like me loathe.
But in this case, it might be a term we need in order to differentiate between Zack Jr. rolling off the roof and Lee Peeler's fly-fishing master classes. For all the excitement about consumer-generated content, much of it still screams danger to most marketers. The work of people like Otalvaro and DePew, on the other hand, is a major ad opportunity just about to be realized.