August 1, 2007, 12:00 AM

Putting Consumers to Work

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Some marketers who’ve tested consumer-generated video campaigns have found it’s not for them. Riley cites a brand manufacturer of a cleaning product that ran a contest looking for video essays on how people cleaned their bathroom. Consumers turned up their noses at submitting videos on that topic. The lesson: Don’t ask people to submit content on something they don’t really care about, Riley says.

Finding a good fit

Riley says marketers considering campaigns using consumer-generated video need to ask themselves if the campaign will reach their core audience. Hyatt Resorts and Hotels researched that question for itself and found the number of moms researching family vacations online was a good fit with its strategic objective of getting consumers to stretch their perception of Hyatt hotels as a destination for business travelers to one that includes Hyatt resorts as a family vacation venue.

Hyatt is betting on an online campaign to do the job, one that combines consumer-generated video with slicker, professionally produced video content. The Hyatt Resorts Ultimate Adventure Challenge, produced by Curium Studios, a unit of interactive agency Critical Mass, invited families to submit audition videos. Hyatt advertised the contest on its own site, with an e-mail campaign targeting its frequent travelers and banner ads on selected sites and social networks.

Hyatt produced a spot for its own site demonstrating how to prepare and upload an audition video that shows the family engaged in an event or activity that demonstrates “a spirit of adventure,” says Jim Forni, vice president and executive producer at Curium.

Hyatt posted what it judged to be the best of the submissions on its web site, and 20 families were invited to a live audition in June. From that audition, five families were selected to compete in the Ultimate Adventure Challenge, with activities ranging from roping steer to a scavenger hunt, filmed at three Hyatt resorts. Curium is filming the competition, but when the webisodes are posted on Hyatt’s site this month, they’ll also include video shot by family contestants equipped with helmet cameras.

Dual objectives

The prize is 50 free nights at Hyatt Resorts-but that won’t go only to the winning family. With the campaign objective not only getting people to submit a video but also getting more people to watch and vote, one randomly selected voting viewer will get the same prize.

“The ROI for the campaign will be based on the amount of time families spend online being immersed in this content translating into more push-through to the sites for those resorts and more bookings of family vacations,” Forni explains. While he didn’t disclose the cost of the campaign, Forni says Hyatt is measuring the cost against the high revenue associated with family vacation bookings.

If an examination of whether a consumer-generated video campaign will reach a marketer’s core audience comes up negative, does the non-core audience it will reach have value? Digital product peripherals maker Logitech ran through that exercise, decided a video contest would appeal to a younger audience it hadn’t previously targeted, and came up with one of the most popular online video contests ever run on YouTube.

Logitech’s core customers are not 18- to 24-year-olds, but they are consumers it wants to reach. Last year the company decided to build brand awareness in that youth demographic and get the word out that its products-specifically, the Logitech QuickCam-are a way for consumers to express themselves on social networking sites. “The idea was that for as little at $29, you, too, can be a YouTuber,” says Todd Hernandez, product marketing manager at Logitech.

Logitech determined the basic tools available for free on YouTube didn’t provide enough visibility for what it wanted to do. “There is so much free content up there that it’s hard for the cream to rise to the top,” Hernandez says. So Logitech became one of the first paying advertisers to run a branded contest, which ran on YouTube’s platform from November 2006 through January 2007.

How not to

Logitech’s call to action invited contestants to upload videos showing how not to do something in the category of their choice. As a play on the contest theme, the two big prizes were on the order of “how to”-drum lessons from Travis Barker of the band Blink182 and rap lessons from rapper Jibbs. To make sure its contest messaging was on target for its intended audience, Logitech took on as content partners for the campaign two of the leading producers of content for YouTube, a duo known as Smosh. Based on their participation in YouTube, the two college studnets were featured in Time Magazine’s “You” Man of the Year coverage in 2006.

Smosh produced a video that announced the contest and provided examples of contest entries. Aligning the campaign with Smosh boosted the visibility of the campaign, as the pair has more than 100,000 content subscribers who receive an e-mail alerting them every time Smosh posts a new video on YouTube.

The campaign produced 1,700 entries, about 600 of which were qualified for display on YouTube by Hernandez, who had to screen them for inappropriate material, copyright violations and relevance to the contest topic. “Sometimes people would upload video completely unrelated to the contest just to get more views from the people watching our contest,” Hernandez says.

The 600 videos displayed on YouTube got millions of views, Hernandez says. Viewers voted to award one of the prizes; Smosh picked the other winner.

But did the campaign sell Logitech QuickCams? Hernandez says Logitech did not track through from YouTube to sales on Logitech’s e-commerce site, but that the site represents only a very small portion of Logitech’s sales as most of its products are purchased in stores. “We do know from a past campaign that was posted on YouTube using our webcam that sales of the product on places like Amazon definitely did tick up. So we know from that that tying Logitech webcams to popular videos on YouTube has increased sales,” he says.

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