User-generated is so yesterday

Another buzzword bites the dust. Business Week’s Catherine Holahan has a nice piece on the trend away from user-generated to professionally produced web video content. Go figure. Folks would rather watch Jon Stewart than cats on toilets. Put that way it seems like stating the obvious, but there are companies learning the hard way.

One after another, online video sites that have long showcased such fare as skateboarding dogs and beer-drenched parties are scaling back their focus on user-generated clips, often in favor of professionally produced programming. “People would rather watch content that has production value than watch their neighbors in the garage,” says Matt Sanchez, co-founder and chief executive of VideoEgg.

Like the early days of desktop publishing, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Craft still matters. Just follow the money. Does American Express really want its ad seen next to this?

Professional content grabs significantly more [advertising] money. Blinkx’s Chandratillake says advertisers will pay $60-plus per 1,000 views to incorporate their ads alongside professional video content. They’ll pay around $7 to associate with user-generated videos, depending on the piece. And some brands have shunned user-generated video outright for fear of being unwittingly associated with videos that make their brands look bad.

It won’t be long until the social networking craze is debunked. You know things have gotten out of hand when Pepperidge Farm gets into the social networking scene. Someone, apparently with a straight face sold the company on the “Connecting Through Cookies” concept. From today’s NY Times article:

The campaign, with a budget of $2 million to $3 million, includes a public relations initiative, a survey of American women on the topic of friendship and print advertising.

The campaign is indicative of the efforts being made by mainstream marketers to take advantage of the growing ardor among consumers for online social networking.

Now I realize that $3 million in pocket change to Cambell’s Soup, but you really have to wonder who’s minding the store in the marketing department. Pepperidge Farm engaged the services of Sally Horchow, co-author of “The Art of Friendship.”

To curry favor with consumers, “brands are realizing they have to do a lot more than making something that tastes good,” [Horchow] added. “Connecting on a personal level with people makes your life better.”

Read it again. Aside from the fact that brands don’t realize anything, this has got to be crazier than anything anyone said with a straight face during the dot-com years. No, folks… Pepperidge Farm makes cookies. All they have to do is taste good. No one yearns for a social experience from their Mint Milanos.

Facebook, MySpace, and Art of the Cookie… take cover, the social networking bubble is overdue to burst.

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