IAB Releases User-Generated Content Guide For Marketers

Any way you slice it, user-generated content (UGC) has become a major part of the media ecosystem. Social platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat are built around it, while video platforms like YouTube embrace it in a pursuit of scale.

UGC has advantages, but also major pitfalls -- and the Interactive Advertising Bureau wants to help marketers navigate the increasingly choppy waters of UGC content.

To that end, the IAB released a UGC buyer’s guide Wednesday, which helps to define the term, differentiate it from similar concepts like influencer marketing, and details how advertisers can take advantage of the format.

IAB vice president of mobile Susan Borst writes in a blog post today that the organization has had an “important shift in thinking” when looking at UGC and influencer marketing. The IAB previously included influencers to be part of UGC, however, it now classifies them separately, noting the relationship it has with brands requires an FTC disclosure.



UGC content is purely individual-driven, rather than brand-driven.

The IAB says UGC is being driven by a confluence of factors: the major platforms, which enable to publishing and spread of content; smartphones with advanced cameras built in; technology like AR filters and lenses; and a brand desire to communicate more authentically with consumers.

That desire is key, as studies show that UGC is trusted by consumers and enables stronger brand affinity and engagement.

For example, Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, which saw the brand print thousands of different names on its bottles and cans, led to strong engagement from consumers that posted photos of bottles with their names to social media.

Of course, UGC carries risks as well. Brand safety is always a concern around UGC, as are questions around rights and fair use. In addition, the line between UGC and influencer marketing can, at times, get fuzzy, which may require extra consideration from brands.

“As more marketers take advantage of this relatively new form of ‘advertising,’ close attention will need to be paid to how this content is commercialized, so as to not tread into the very different waters of influencer marketing,” the report warns. “Understanding usage rights is paramount, and, because each case is different, it is imperative that processes are in place. Marketers should first establish protocols with their legal counsel, and always make sure that desired use of content passes their internal ‘gut-check’ before proceeding. 

Read the full guide, here.

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