User Generated Advertising Web 2.0 Style

Wayne Porter inspired me to write this post, with his post from February titled “User Generated Ads- Brand Evangelists Participate and Create“. I planned it since then and finally got actually around doing it.

Web 2.0 Buzz
AJAX user interfaces, communities and user-generated content in form of text comments and videos are the most prominent examples of what is known under the buzzword “Web 2.0”. At the same time can we see the trend of things going from “one size fits it all” to become increasingly vertical and niche oriented. The “long tail” became the second “buzz-phrase” for the “new web”.

The parallel development of both of those things resulted in the launch of tons of new businesses in all kinds of niches without coverage of mainstream media and big press. New communities sprung up everywhere and it became virtually impossible to keep track of them all.

Often Overlooked
Often missed is the opportunity to leverage those communities for the needs of your own business. We still tend to do things the old way and trying out something new remains often only a thought rather than an actual action. Sure, we try out a few new things, especially with the few sites that are repeatedly used as an example of the new web, YouTube, MySpace or Digg. We do it, because everybody is doing it and if it really makes sense for the business you are in is merely an afterthought. Many people that do what I just described missed the whole point of it all. “Web 2.0” and the “long tail” are exactly not about doing what everybody else is doing.

Let me show you a different example of how you can leverage this whole web 2.0 thing for your business. There are hundreds of other examples out there, waiting to be found, if you would start looking for them.

deviantART
The artist community deviantART is very popular among hobby and professional artists of all kind including Traditional Art like Animations, Drawings, Street Art, Body Art, Paintings, Mixed Media, Typography, Sculpture, Printing and Collage; Customization like Wallpapers, Skins & Themes, Icons, Visualization Presets, Modules & Plugins, Handhelds and Cell Phone Art; Digital Art like Pixel Art, Text Art (ASCII & ANSI), Rendered Graphics and Photoshop; Photography; Literature like Prose and Poetry; Artisan Crafts like Culinary Arts, Sculpture and Glass, Textiles, Architectural Design, Basketry, Custom Dolls, Jewelry, Leatherwork, Metal Work, Origami, Pumpkin Carving and Woodworking; Flash; Designs & Interfaces; Manga/Anime; Cartoons & Comics and Anthro.

You get the picture. Every kind of art you can think of. Several million artists made over 30 million pieces of art available via deviantART. Artists can also make their art available for purchase via the deviantART shop and receive a percentage of the amount the art is being sold.

The community features are typical for a web 2.0 site. Users can befriend and watch each other, have their own journal, can do votes, add other artists work to their favorites, have their own gallery to show case their art and forums and chat rooms for communication. An internal message system and the ability to leave comments everywhere rounds the whole thing up. If you are a hobby or professional artist, check it out. I have an account there for over one year, because I used to do ASCII and ANSI text art in the past during the time when there was MS DOS instead of Windows and bulletin board systems instead of the Internet.

How can you leverage a place like deviantART for your business?

Recruiting Opportunities
If you are a design or advertising company, deviantART is probably a good place to recruit talents. The users are from all over the world, even what from places we call the third world. You will be surprised how many talented folks are out there. Talent does not depend on how big your wallet is.

User Generated Advertising
If you are not an agency or design shop and also not looking for an in-house designer, you could leverage the community by doing a contest there. Let deviants (user of deviantART), who are interested, design something for you and your business. A contest for a Logo design, flyer designs or website layout for example. Be creative, there are no limits for what you could do.

Contests are very popular and more and more companies are using places like deviantART to create not only buzz, but also get often a very high quality piece of art or design out of it.

Here are some examples of past and currently running contests.

  1. Design a Logo Contest “Anthem
  2. Album Design Contest “The Trews
  3. Miramax: Renaissance Movie Poster Contest (submissions)
  4. Wacom Asia Pacific Lifestyle Contest
  5. Vancouver Giants Contest
  6. deviantART-CameraQuest.com Street Photo Contest
  7. Skin a Scion Contest (Car)
  8. Eagle Vs Shark Movie Poster Contest
  9. InsideCG Logo Contest
  10. HackMyToaster logo contest!
  11. Delirum CD Cover Contest
  12. Tutorial-Index Layout Contest

You can browse more contents here.

What is the cost of doing something like this and what is the best way to approach this?

If you are an active member of the community, contests are free and you can do whatever you want. You can then contact deviantART and ask them to make it an official one. If it is an interesting contest and you are truly an active community member, they will do that. You have to sponsor prizes of course. A typical prize is an annual subscription to deviantART ($29.95).

Accounts are generally free, but the subscription gives you some extra features such as No-Ads on the site if you are logged in, download of art to your cell phone and extra customization features. It is really up to you what you want to offer. The better the prizes, the more artists will participate, keep that in mind.

If you are not a community member, you can do a contest too. There is no fix price for it though and the charges need to be discussed with deviantART. The advertising fees include notices, hot topics and the contest category and management of the contest. I got some ballpark numbers to give you some ideas about the cost.

Real companies have to pay about 10 grand, but start-ups, individuals, communities and non-profits have probably to pay less to even nothing but the sponsorship of the prizes.

Here is the contact information of the responsible person at deviantART, If you are interested in holding a contest at dA.

Contact
Danielle McKay aka Moonbeam13
Director of Artist Relations for deviantART
Toronto, Canada
moonbeam13 AT deviantart DOT com

Conclusion
Getting user generated Ads are a good reason for a contest.

You engage people, inspire creativity and get authentic designs, which are honest and pure. It could be a web 2.0 style advertising campaign, very viral (speaking of buzz marketing).

I would suggest going the whole nine yards to get the most out of it. Add video coverage, upload the video to YouTube and people might use digg.com, readit.com, stubleupon.com and del.icio.us to bookmark it and spread the word for you. The coverage via a press release would not hurt though.

If such a campaign is not for you, but the audience at deviantART is your target audience, you have the ability to run Ads there instead. Advertising Contact Form.

Disclosure:
I am not being paid for doing this. I also received no other benefits in return. It is a personal endorsement of the deviantART.com website and the expressed opinions in this post are my own. I am a community member and its founder is a fan of my old text art and made me lifetime member back in March 2006 when I signed up at deviantART. This is the first and last time I will add such a silly disclosure at the end of a post of mine. I only added it, because of the recent discussions about this “issue”. See here, here and here.

About Carsten Cumbrowski

Internet Marketer, Entrepreneur and Blogger. To learn more about me and what I am doing, visit my website and check out the “about” section.

Twitter: ccumbrowski

2 Responses to User Generated Advertising Web 2.0 Style

  1. Shaina says:

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  2. Very insightful. There are several other ways in which social networks can be leveraged by businesses, big and small. There's a diagram at the URL – not much commentary helpful for framing the whole space in the context of business.