It's no secret consumer generated content is hot. Both McDonald's and Apple have bought the rights to content found on YouTube and turned them into commercials in recent months. Consumer generated content has a "real" feeling to it and can often be purchased for far less than the cost of custom created ads. So I'm wondering, why haven't more small businesses thought of exploring this option?

Big companies are already scouring sites like YouTube. In fact, the team at Apple recently spotted this gem:

The New York Times reports the ad was created by 18-year old Nick Haley, an Apple fan from England. Haley created the ad on his Mac and uploaded it to YouTube. The spot had only received a few thousand views when Haley got an email from an Apple's ad agency asking to chat. The company flew Haley to L.A. to work with creative executives at TBWA/Chiat/Day to produce a broadcast quality version of the spot.

If you watch much television, you've probably seen it.

Apple isn't the only one exploring this source of content.

It wasn't too long ago McDonald's scored a similar user generated commercial from YouTube. The team found the viral sensation "McNuggets Rap" put together by two improv actors and purchased the rights. The McDonald's ad team edited in white text on a black screen to carry the sales message and used the result as a commercial for a promotion on McNuggets.

Investment firm AIG has been running a whole series of articles featuring adorable clips of laughing babies scoured from YouTube.

What I'd like to know is why more small business and medium size businesses aren't exploring this option. I've offered this advice up a few times while talking to companies at seminars and conferences. Taking the time to do some browsing on YouTube and spotting a cute video that could be turned into an ad spot can be a great way to score some viral content or an ad.

While it's true that some content creators are uploading clips with express purpose of hoping someone will buy, the greatest majority of YouTube users would likely be thrilled at the idea of a company approaching them to buy their clip.

Even if you aren't looking for a television ad, there's something to be said for negotiating the right to add your URL and company name to the end of their clip. A video with great viral potential that can be related to your business can deliver a ton of traffic for far less than the cost of generating your own viral campaign. Even if you don't purchase the rights to an existing video, you may find someone with a YouTube channel and a style of video creation you like. There's nothing that says you can't contact them to find out what it might cost to have them create a video specifically for you.

In an ideal world, companies should be working to create their own viral and educational videos. In the real world, it's not always possible. If you're a small business looking for something creative, consider taking a look through YouTube. You just might find your next video campaign at a bargain price.

May 14, 2008

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


Along this line of thinking, I noticed a company called Storybids recently launched in an attempt to unite video content creators with advertisers. I'm not affiliated with them in any way, but it's an interesting idea.

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Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Shopping for a Viral Video at YouTube