I have a former colleague of mine who left Ogilvy to focus on his own production company and create video projects. His group, g14 Productions, has just released a fantastic online video show worth checking out. It’s called The Reservation and features weekly episodes of 3-4 minutes of a show that is a cross between 24 and Heroes. You might be tempted to called this User Generated Content (UGC) and lump it into the range of video being produced and uploaded to YouTube (some of which is highly entertaining, I’ll admit). The difference, though, is that g14 is doing this for a living.
They are professionals by definition, and though they are distributing their work right now for free online, it seems that we need a different way to talk about the content they are producing. As the tools get better and better for delivering higher quality video online, I suspect you will start to see more shows like The Reservation make their way online as a distribution model. Just as I subscribe to blogs in my reader, perhaps one day I will get my episodes of the online video shows I follow in a download each morning to watch on the train or while on the treadmill. In a world where anyone can create content, UGC is going to start facing competition from PGC (Professionally Generated Content). To a degree, it already is.
Many of the most popular blogs online today are being staffed by journalists and professional writers. Some of the images on Flickr are so good you can barely distinguish them from the ones on Getty Images or another stock photo seller. Shows like The Reservation are being distributed online with a production quality far beyond your typical scratchy YouTube fodder. What is all of this pointing to? Professionally Generated Content, whether you buy into the goofy PGC acronym or not, is already becoming a force of social media. As the quality of this content produced by individual professionals continues to improve, this is going to offer big opportunities to brands for advertising and marketing against professionally produced content. As these professionals start to earn a living from the content they create, they are going to be open to support from these marketers as well. So here’s the big question: are you paying enough attention to the opportunities for marketing through PGC?