The most popular TV game shows today reward luck, instead of knowledge (trivial or otherwise). Judging by the recent success of Deal or No Deal – the less thinking involved in a game show, the more popular it can be. Apparently, trivia is no longer as engaging as luck. For most of these shows, the barriers are low to enter and lower to win. Online, however, promotions and contests are exhibiting the opposite trend. Three years ago, it was common for brands to run instant win games or other similar luck-based promotions online. Today the saaviest online marketers are running campaigns engaging consumer’s creativity and asking them to create content. From Mastercard’s brilliant "Write your own priceless ad" campaign to the formation of new groups like Vitrue (a service that allows brands to solicit "user created advertising content" in return for payment), tapping consumer creativity is quickly becoming the core focus of many successful interactive marketing programs.
As online popup blockers and ad strippers built into browsers are forcing online marketers to confront the same challenges as TV advertisers have with Tivo, getting consumers to create marketing messages is the ultimate mashup of consumer generated media, word of mouth marketing, and viral marketing that promises to establish a new viable form of online marketing. The interesting effect of this focus is the renewed importance of being creative. For some time, being labeled a "creative" was often seen as a succinct description of a black turtleneck wearing, uber-wanker personality. While this may still be true in the ad industry (sorry guys), outside of the industry the position and importance of creativity is rising too. Creativity is what can win you big bucks, allow you to create your own fake news headlines (via Adverlab), and even write your own subtitles for Bollywood film clips. The ability to write creatively is one attribute most successful bloggers possess. Does this rise in consumer generated media and advertising point to an increase in the importance of creativity in our culture? That’s probably a stretch. But if people spend more time being creative online and less on creating brainless video footage of stupid cat tricks for "America’s Funniest Home Videos" … that can only be good for all of us.