The value of us

For all the fuss over the Federated Media advertorial mess, one underlying message here is that advertisers are coming to care about being close to us — us, the Users or Consumer who Generate Media. They’re coming around slowly, but they’re coming around.

I just saw a Piper Jaffray PowerPoint (sorry, I lost the link) that said that time spent on “user-generated content” sites soared from 3 percent in April of 2005 to 31 percent now: a tenfold increase in just two years and a now huge proportion of time spent online.

That means that advertisers can no longer ignore the content we make, even if they are still scared of it.

And a survey reported in Ad Age last week shows some trepidation still. The Ad Age reporter was unimpressed that 12 percent of senior marketers found consumer-generated and new media “very important.” But I was impressed that 57 percent found it very or something important. Marketers’ main reason for using new media/CGM was to be innovative and ahead of the competition in pushing the latest marketing trend, cited by 36% of marketers. Many also said CGM saves money compared with traditional advertising and marketing, a reason cited by 32% of respondents.

Yet the survey showed that the advertising industry is not taking advantage of new media/CGM. One reason may be hesitation to give the consumer more control. Only 22% said they were “very willing” to allow consumers more control. Others said it could harm their businesses and there is no clear return on investment.

Fools. They still don’t see that we are in control.

And the World Editors Forum blog reports that, according to Hitwise, YouTube is about to surpass the BBC in UK home page visitors. And thanks to MySpace et al, entertainment websites overtook retail and classified traffic.

You just can’t escape us.