Recapture your Audience's Attention with User Generated Content

White Paper

It’s no secret that traditional media and publishing models have been dramatically transformed by the rise of mobile broadband, use of multi-screens and the proliferation of social networks. It’s these three factors that have caused media companies to suffer from declining print circulations, time-shifting TV ads and a move away from their owned properties to social networks.

Download this whitepaper to discover how today’s digital consumer is impacting the industry and how media companies are adapting and competing in the new digital economy.

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Traditional media and publishing models have been dramatically transformed by the rise of mobile broadband, use of multi-screens and the proliferation of social networks. As a result, media owners are now suffering from declining print circulations, time-shifting TV ads and a move away from their owned properties to social networks.

In response, forward thinking media companies have focused on how they can reinvent their digital channels and extend their media portfolios beyond traditional advertising formats to drive valuable traffic, boost advertising revenue, increase subscriptions and protect subscription renewals.

After all, why compete with Google and Facebook, who between them have over 50% of the advertising marketing stitched-up with static banners, video and image ads?

The Rise of The Digital Consumer

The pace of digital consumption is accelerating and today’s publishers and media owners must blend their existing digital properties with mobile, TV and social channels.

According to PWC, digital revenue from advertising has risen from just 14% of total advertising revenue in 2009 to 25% in 2013. It is forecast to hit 33% by 2018.

If traditional media owners don’t adapt to the new digital economy, they’ll find it increasingly hard to compete. To protect and grow their share of this exploding market, publishers must:

  • Offer innovative promotional formats to advertisers
  • Optimize traffic to their owned digital channels
  • Maximize ad impressions and exposure
  • Improve the performance of their inventory Increase ad revenue and commerce

Growing Consumer Influence

The balance of power is rapidly shifting from brands and media owners towards their consumers. It’s now the man on the bus, the teen at the concert and the woman at the beach who are creating and sharing photos, videos and updates like never before.

  • 11% of all online news consumers have submitted their own content (including videos, photos, articles or opinion pieces) to news websites or blogs.
  • 50% of social network users share or repost news stories, images, or videos.
  • 46% discuss news issues or events on social network sites.
  • 63% of US consumers now look for content recommendations online.

Consumers are becoming the most persuasive and powerful influencers in the new digital economy. In fact, recent research from Ipsos suggests that purchase decisions among millennials are more influenced by user generated content (UGC) than any other form of content or promotion:

  • 53% User Generated Content
  • 44% Traditional Media
  • 23% Banner Ads

Social is a Primary Source of Traffic

Research shows that consumers are progressively using social media as their main way to access media websites. So, rather than clicking-through from an online ad or visiting directly, if they’re on a mobile device, visitors are more likely to be referred from a social network like Facebook or Twitter.

In fact, a recent study of the top 250 news and publisher sites highlights the share of referrals by source on both mobile and desktop traffic during January 2013 - January 2014.

So, rather than focusing solely on their owned properties to activate their audiences, media owners must ensure they have a unified strategy to activate their audiences across social, mobile and web channels. While ensuring valuable traffic is channeled through to their owned properties, where it can then be effectively monetized.

Engagement a nd Time-Based Metrics are Key

In a world dominated by mobile media consumption, some traditional advertising models appear to be losing relevance. Not only are audiences consuming more content than ever before, it is now on multiple screens. The onus is on media companies to innovate and offer consumers interactive campaign experiences in tandem with compelling editorial and user-generated content.

The pressure is on for media owners to prove their sites are the most competitive, most socially engaging and most effective in the marketplace. And, they can only do this by creating a deeper, more authentic relationship with their readers.

So What Should Media Companies Do?

Media owners and publishers need a new suite of tools, a broader media portfolio and more detailed insights into the behavior and preferences of their audiences. Ultimately, it’s about offering tangible value to advertisers, driving more revenue and optimizing the relevance, efficiency and performance of their commercial products. In this section of the white paper, we’ll explore how media owners can:

  • Expand Their Media Portfolio
  • Amass Actionable Audience Data
  • Socialize Their Digital Channels
  • Optimize Their Content and Editorial
  • Keep it All Legal

Expand Your Media Portfolio

Media owners are now offering their advertisers products from an extended media portfolio, offering native advertising and re-imagining the way existing promotions can run on their websites and social channels.

Competitions and Sweepstakes:

It has never been easier to use competitions and sweepstakes to acquire richlyprofiled audience data to improve segmentation and the targeting of offers and ads. However, many media companies are using outdated competition platforms, often built in-house with little flexibility and poor social media integration. Plus, there’s limited ability to integrate the captured data with other data sources, such as CRM, email and subscriptions, into a single data warehouse.

Media owners need to adopt modern competition platforms that make it easy to deploy, customize and launch promotions at the required frequency. At the same time these platforms need to be flexible and optimized to capture richly profiled and actionable audience data. Ultimately, it’s all about being able to run promotions for their advertisers that maximize entries, boost virality and capture data.

Maximize Ad Impressions:

When visitors are engaging with multi-step competitions or interacting with curated social content, there is now the opportunity to serve new ads into the page hosting the competition app. Each new action within the promotion can trigger a new ad to display around the iframe. This can be triggered after each step in a multiple-choice quiz, clicking through a gallery or on final form submission. This approach to event tracking means media owners can offer a higher number of ad impressions during a single visit to their web property. On future visits they can increase effectiveness through effective profiling and targeting based on user behavior and expressed preferences.

Adopt Native Advertising:

With a lack of new advertising formats and products to offer advertisers, and increased social referral traffic, there’s an opportunity to gain traction around each of the engagement metrics featured in the previous section. In fact, publishers are beginning to offer “native advertising” packages to advertisers that feature an optimal mix of curated UGC, branded content and planned editorial. And it seems to be working. According to research from IPG media lab, native ads are viewed for the same amount of time as editorial content and are much more likely to be shared than a banner ad (32% versus 19% of respondents said they would do so).

Take Advantage of the Second Screen: 

Recent research from Nielsen confirms what we all instinctively know: more than 40% of us use our tablets and smartphones simultaneously while we’re watching TV. But how do media owners take advantage of this trend?

  • 60 Minute Photo Contests Launch hashtag and photo contests that last for the duration of a TV program. It’s all possible with the aggregation and curation capabilities of the EngageSciences platform and the Content API to inject UGC directly into live TV ad formats.
  • Drive from TV to Web and Social Promote competitions and sweepstakes during TV programs, safe in the knowledge that you’ll get instant participation at scale from second screeners.

Activate Your Audience Wherever They Are:

To ensure an effective presence across multiple channels and to maximize the number of participants, campaigns should be federated to multiple social networks and digital channels. For example, you can enter via a Facebook contest, upload a selfie via a website, share a tweet on Twitter or a photo on Instagram via a hashtag.

The buzz around Jermain Jackman’s new album was achieved by curating UGC content from Vine, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more on the dedicated website. Competitions were launched on Instagram and Twitter where entrants could create and share content using a specific hashtag, driving further reach on social channels and more traffic to the website.

Amass Actionable Audience Data

By running activations across social, digital and mobile channels, media owners can develop a killer marketing database that can accurately segment and target their audience and power the performance of other marketing channels.

Targeting and Segmentation:

Run promotions to collect audience data across your primary digital channels and a range of social networks. By integrating social audience data with CRM and marketing databases, media owners and publishers achieve more accurate, more efficient and more effective targeting of email marketing and advertising.

Power Digital Channels with Social Data:

Build a unified view of your audience over-time by connecting email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles to a single audience record and match them with CRM profiles. If publishers own multiple titles, all social data captured across these properties can be integrated into a single data warehouse.

If they do it right, media owners can build closer relationships with their digital consumers, while going beyond the traditional reader/subscriber demographics to gain meaningful insights that can be applied across multiple digital channels.

Socialize Your Digital Channels

Mix Curated Social Content With Promotions. Given the undoubted influence of UGC, media owners need to harness its power and mix it shrewdly with branded content from advertisers and editorial content.

Huffington Post regularly publish social hubs that feature opinions and reactions of their readers around a subject or an event. This social hub displays curated content from the visitors and journalists at the Wilderness Festival to inspire conversation and encourage engagement.

Optimize Your Editorial Strategy

It’s important to understand how your editorial is resonating and who it’s resonating with. Use a platform to tag all of the posts you publish to your social profiles. Choose the right taxonomy to determine social engagement and measure how your content is performing. More importantly, profile and target individuals and groups of consumers connecting with your brand.

UFC use Messaging and Tagging on the EngageSciences platform to optimize their editorial to create the biggest impact and target the most engaged audience members (likes, comments, shares) to drive merchandise and ticket sales.

Keeping it All Legal

COPPA Compliancy

If you’re a media owner in the US, you’re probably acutely aware of the stringent requirements of COPPA. But, are you confident that your current approach to sweepstakes and competitions is fully compliant and will keep you clear of litigation? Publishers need to ensure they use a platform that identifies users who are under 13 years of age and restricts and subsequently blocks them from future submissions. It’s also good idea to feature Captcha integration, fast track fraud detection and automated participant export, so you’re fully covered.

Rights Management

As part of their campaigns, media companies will typically encourage participants to create and share UGC that can be re-used in future marketing promotions. The good news is that you’ll typically have explicit permission to re-use the shared content if it has been submitted via a form embedded in a promotion or via a campaign on a social network featuring a unique campaign hashtag.

However, there are times when you might want to re-use the content in a different format, such as TV advertising, or use public content that has been curated on any number of popular social networks, but not shared as part of a campaign. In these cases, media owners must adopt an approach to:

  • Filter, curate and review UGC from many different sources
  • Request rights to re-use the most compelling content
  • Track rights requests and have an audited history of the permissions process
  • Optionally set content to automatically publish when rights have been granted


The explosion of consumer-generated content, social networks and mobile is unstoppable. Media companies must accept the social user's experience is now collaborative and inclusive. And with half of digital ad revenues now being taken by Facebook and Google, media brands should be looking to offer their advertisers something that neither of these behemoths can: a truly interactive experience.

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