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Cute, fail and win; the monetization of UGC and viral video

Jukin Media curates tens of thousands of User Generated Content (UGC) clips, unlocking major revenue streams for creators and businesses.

By Giles Crosse | Feb 27, 2019

By 2020, there will be some 6.4 billion connected cameras in the world. The UGC they capture is growing exponentially into an almost limitless creative resource. But effectively leveraging UGC for branding demands more than viral skateboarding fails or cute puppies.

Instead, a keen eye for the storytelling narrative, matching content to customer and authenticating truth are the tools UGC marketeers must master. Further, it appears non-viral UGC performs equally, if not better on engagement.

Reuters spoke with Reuters Connect partner Jukin Media‘s Brendon Mulvihill, SVP head of licensing, on how viral and UGC help brands build engagement.

Guy Gets Wiped out Attempting to Backflip off Friend’s Hand – Jukin Media via Reuters Connect

Harnessing the collective creative of the world

“Leveraging UGC to us is really all about context and the specific needs of the brand and the business,” Brendon Mulvihill explains. For him, UGC exists on a spectrum; it’s not all viral videos. Unique moments exist seen by millions, or everyday moments seen by just 20 people, but each clip has potential value.

“UGC fits for organic, social, paid social and broadcast, for editorial use or even just internal purposes,” he continues. “When I talk with brands it’s about using UGC to speak to the passion points of their customers.”

Identifying precisely the content that speaks meaningfully to a specific audience is key. “Let’s say you know your customers love music, travel and food. There is lots of UGC in the world that shows this,” he continues.

“But the video has to retain resonance. That’s the key. Using viral content for the sake of viral content doesn’t work. You might think because it’s viral it gets eyeballs; that’s not a good strategy. Match the content to the demographic of the customer.

Therefore, brands shouldn’t use viral recklessly. Doing so misses better, less viewed UGC content that resonates. The key is delivering engagement, not millions more ineffective views.

Man reunites with best friend at music festival. Jukin Media via Reuters Connect

Regular servings, please

UGC is also a highly efficient way to serve an audience plentiful content affordably, whether viral or otherwise.

“I see three different types; digital and social usage, broadcast and television promotional, and a storytelling and narrative element,” Brendon continues.

“It’s everything from organic posts on Instagram to using content like an Instagram story to promote a product, or 60 second broadcasting spots.”

He argues passionately that UGC storytelling is much overlooked. Creators shoot huge volumes of content at concerts or sporting events, inadvertently enabling brands to stitch pieces with multiple perspectives without having to shoot a thing.

Another bonus; cost is then significantly less. “Let’s say you are a sponsor of the English Premier League. You want to leverage that within your creative. Sending a crew to the opening game, a championship decider or another five or six league games; that’s going to be a lot; millions of dollars potentially.” Brendon explains.

But thousands of people attend these games every week, recording not just the match but the stadium experience and the after party too. All that content exists for Jukin to acquire, curate and repurpose.

Curious to see Jukin Media’s UGC? Start exploring with instant access to Reuters Connect

Authentication and truth

Crucially, every single UGC clip must stem from reputable sources, with double or triple checking to verify creators are who they claim to be and content is truly original.

“We have experts in house, a seven-step process to verifying video and we leverage indemnification, just in case,” says Brendon.

“UGC is never fully without risk but you have to work with reputable people.” He urges caution on this front. “You stake your reputation on this; we’re looking for real, truthful moments. Our guys can tell because they’ve done it for such a long time; they can see, is that real or is that setup.

“You double check; you make the phone calls, you talk and you understand what is real or not. It’s a really important part of what we do, to make sure we have authentic stuff, because that is the content that works.

Every brand relies on consumer trust, so use of deceitful UGC will only serve to damage brands. The Edelman Trust Barometer measures consumer sentiment and their trust level in business and government; its recent findings are concerning.

“Right now, trust is at an all-time low,” Brendon explains. “If you seek content to bring trust back, by definition you have to have authentic content.”

He cites a University of Southern California study showing UGC effectiveness is higher and more memorable only when it comes from the real world. “If you have real people playing with their kids and playing with their dogs, you can’t fake that.”

The future of viral and UGC for branding

Overall, viral is actually a small segment of UGC content, though it requires prompt action to acquire, with key indicators the number of views content is getting within a certain amount of time.

“I don’t think we will see a world where shooting content goes away, but I think given budgets and the amount of content needed to be relevant and retain attention, UGC helps push out a lot without spending much money.”