There’s a long-time debate about the merits of professionally produced content (TV commercials) and user-generated content (like product reviews or sponsored videos). A comScore report shows that the combination of the two are more effective as measured by lifts in “share of choice” — that’s a comScore metric to quantify the ability of an ad to influence brand preference, and it’s been shown to predict advertising-induced sales.
Interestingly, the study showed user-generated performing better than the professional content on “key communication message,” which is something one might expect of the pro content. It may surprise ad agences that user-generated video also scored higher on “emotional intensity,” “easy to relate,” but not the “importance of key message.” Pro content won there. Of course it’s worth noting that the comScore study was done with Expo.tv, a company that creates and distributes such brand-centric videos as product reviews, how-to’s, demonstrations and recipes.
We don’t know the product reviews or commercials that were tested, but I used Tide With Downy as an example below (this is a slide from a presentation I’m giving at the Association of National Advertisers next week). I’ve also added sample video of both an ExpoTV product review of Tide, and a Tide advertisement I found on YouTube. They’re more different than similar, and it’s easy to see that the one-two punch is going to sell me on Tide more than seeing the TV spot prerolled 4 times alone. According to MediaPost, the study evaluated an actual campaign that included a combination of a professionally produced “how to” video and a user generated product video that was created and submitted by an actual product user.
When measuring “Share of Choice” lift (on both featured product or broad product line ads) the pro content fared significantly better when pitted directly against user-generated content. But the combination was demonstrably better, suggesting we might want to rotate pro spots with low-tech personal testimonials.
“While marketers may already be familiar with the effectiveness of professional video content alone, these results suggest that even greater returns can be had by combining their use with authentic, user-generated content,” said Frank Findley, comScore’s Vice President of Research and Development.
Compare yourself… watch Krista’s review of Tide with Downy then see a professional “Hoodies and Cargo” spot. Thoughts? I find Krista’s review more like a mildly compensated neighbor telling me about the product, and the Hoodies commercial far more entertaining. (But the Hoodies spot on YouTube had 1000 dislikes against 186 likes). They’re different beasts, serve different roles, and need to be seen as complementary not “either or.”