Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Sunday, April 1, 2012
I still remember the day I went for a movie for the first time, with my parents as a five year old kid. That day I had a load of questions to ask from my father, about how movies are made, and how they are projected to the giant screen inside the movie theatre. The answers I got, painted a picture in my mind that ‘making movies is a complicated thing, which only a certain kind of people can handle’.
For as long as we can remember, that ‘certain kind of people’ used to be the professional moviemakers from Hollywood, Bollywood, or from our own local cinema industry. In certain countries like India, these elites were treated almost as gods!
Rise of television as a medium of entertainment affected the cinema industry negatively, but the television entertainment production still remained to be an industry with ‘high entry barriers’, making it the property of more or less the same set of individuals who dominated the cinema industry.
All in all, ordinary people like you and me, had to gulp down whatever the (errrr.. let me not use that word) stuff forced down on us, by these big production houses in Hollywood, Bollywood, or Colombo.
Today, social media is democratizing everything around us and entertainment industry is no exception. No longer have you had to be a privileged son/daughter of a veteran musician, actor, movie producer or a director, to start your own career as an entertainer. All you need is talent, basic equipments, and a good internet connection, to become a celebrity on the worldwide web.
If you still don’t believe me, ask Justin Beiber, Rebecca Black, or our own Sri Lankan Australian Youtube star Jehan Ratnatunga.
In an interview with a journalist, Justin Bebier had this to sa.
"I put my singing videos from the competition [which Justin came to 2nd place] on YouTube so that my friends and family could watch them," he stated. "But it turned out that other people liked them and they started subscribing to them. That's how my manager found me. He saw me on YouTube and contacted my family and now I'm signed!"
Rebecca Black, has a much similar beginning to her career as a singer (more here).
Staying in the topic of ‘user generated entertainment’, the most significant trend that I see is the growing popularity of ‘Youtube entertainers’. These Youtube entertainers are the regular content creators on the popular video sharing website, attracting millions of views and comments on their authentic creations. The early success of Lonelygirl15 series on Youtube inspired more similar low cost (but not low quality) online video productions, and now these user generated entertainment clips are attracting more ‘viewer time’ on Youtube, than the official movie trailers and music videos uploaded by professional production houses and musicians. (Find a complete list of Youtube Entertainers here).
I personally realized the power of ‘user generated entertainment’, when I first came across Jehan Ratnatunga’s channel on Youtube. His creations particularly attracted me, as the videos were more culturally relevant for me (like this one!), than those video series’ uploaded by American Youtubers.
Following the footsteps of Jehan, I have noticed a few other groups of Youtubers with a Sri Lankan origin, uploading several entertaining creations. However, certain factors like, cost of equipments and lack of awareness plays a negative role in the take-up rate of this concept, among the Sri Lankan youth.
Implications for the Marketers
Growing popularity of Youtube user generated content as a medium of entertainment is making a clear shift of focus of your consumers’ eye-balls. Your consumers are now spending more time on Youtube, watching user generated videos. It may not be as big as your TV audiences at the moment, but look at it as the same scenario what it used to be for TV vs. print in the early 80’s. Youtube offers a whole heap of advertising opportunities on the ‘watch pages’ of these user-generated videos, as almost none of the Sri Lankan brands are making use of this cost-effective niche medium to reach out to their audiences. Moving a step further from merely ‘advertising on Youtube’, you can think of more creative ways of intergrating Youtube into your marketing communications. Check out this popular Youtube case study ‘Will it Blend’. Or, how about these two lovely ladies selling you branded clothing on Youtube?
BTW, I think this is accidental (or deliberately done? Only Jehan knows :-) ), but look at how the MD Jam brand getting a mileage out of this video produced by Jehan & the team. Opportunities for marketers are immense on this domain of ‘user generated entertainment’ but only if you have the ability to identify those opportunities and do something.