design lessons from user generated content: an analysis of user generated internet video and flash...
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1. Design Lessons from User Generated Content:An Analysis of User Generated Internet Videoand Fl ash Animationsj e f f r e y b a r d z e l l , p h . d . s h a owe n b a r d z e l l , p h . d . t y l e r p a c e 2. e x e cu t i v e s u m m a r y : :User generated content refers to any digital media created and uploaded to theInternet by nonmedia professionals. This new form of content is quickly becomingthe dominant media form of the Internet. By 2011, over 50% of all Internet users in theUnited States will participate in user generated content both as creators and viewers.Additionally, our analysis suggests that over 60% of most successful viral contentin the last year was user generated. Digital media designers must learn from thesuccesses and failures of user generated content in order to remain competitive inthe changing digital media market.In this report, we present an analysis of successful user generated content frompopular Internet video and Flash animation portals. Viewer engagement was measuredwith OTOinsights Quantemo neuromarketing research system. Quantemo utilizes amulti-modal approach that combines self-report, physiological and neurological datato holistically and reliably measure user engagement with digital media. Analyzing theresults from the Quantemo sources, we present a set of four insights concerning howsuccessful user generated content appeals to viewers and what professional marketerscan learn from the efforts of user generated content creators.Insights1. Traditional evaluation methods are insufficient for explaining and interpretingemotional response to digital media.2. Setting expectations prior to content viewership encourages positiveratings and engagement3. Viewers encourage and respond positively to emotional content.4. Empathy and appeal are key strategies for promoting positive emotionalresponse and engagement.Copyright 2008, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 1 3. Copyright 2008, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 2recommendations1. Measure for emotion and engagement during the medias development to help predictviewer response on release.2. Carefully craft metadata to promote the media while also setting accurateexpectations of its content and style.3. Provide emotionally rich content but ensure emotionally satisfying conclusionsare possible.4. Empathize with viewers personal histories or appeal to the interests and culture oftheir microcommunity to promote positive response and engagement.i n t r o duc t i o n : :user generated contentUser generated content, also known as user created content, consumer created contentor consumer generated media, refers to any digital media created and uploaded to theInternet by non-media professionals (Interactive Advertising Bureau, 2008). Everythingfrom ratings on Amazon.com to professional-quality video on YouTube or a studentsFacebook profile is broadly considered part of the domain of user generated content. In2007, conservative estimates suggest that at least 69 million Internet users in the UnitedStates, 33% of all Internet users in the US, participate in user generated content (Verna,2007). By 2011, 101 million Internet users in the US, 50% of all Internet users in the US,are expected to participate in user generated content.The expected growth and current popularity of user generated content is changing andinforming the expectations of digital media on the web. To offer an example of theimportance and dominance of user generated media forms, in March 2008 11.5 billionvideos were watched on YouTube.com for an average of 42 videos per users[Comscore]. Our analysis of the top videos on YouTube.com suggests that at least60% of those 11.5 billion monthly video views are for user generated content. As usergenerated content continues to grow as the preferred digital media form, it is importantfor digital media professionals to critically evaluate user generated media and learnfrom the successes and failures of the medium. This report presents insights aimed athelping digital media professionals learn from the media strategies employed by someof the most successful user generated content of the last two years. 4. Copyright 2008, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 3INTERNET VIDEO AN D FLASH ANIMATIONSInternet videos and Flash animations are among the most popular forms of user generatedcontent on the Internet. Videos and animations achieve such levels of popularity that theconcept of viral content was created to explain the lightning speed with which thesemedia travel among viewers, in a decentralized process of friends recommending videosto their family and friends, who pass them along to their friends and family, and so on.An analysis of the most popular viral videos, as tracked by Unruly Media, over the lastyear (October 2007-October 2008) reveals that over half of the videos are user created[UNRULYMEDIA]. The user generated videos received between 4-35 million views each.Flash animations, while less popular than Internet video in general, are another successfulform on user generated content. Newgrounds.com, a premier site for Flash animations, hosts100% user generated content. The top 10 content producers each receive over 30 millionsviews annually. Additionally, the top 10 animations each received between 17-42 million viewsat Newgrounds alone, with even higher numbers when re-postings at other portals arecounted. Like most user generated content, media hosted at Newgrounds.com is oftenspread to other content sites. As an example, the animation The Ultimate Showdown wasoriginally posted to Newgrounds.com and received 10 million views. A few months after itsrelease on Newgrounds.com, The Ultimate Showdown was posted to YouTube underseveral names and received 3 million views across all its postings.When combined, Internet videos and Flash animations arguably constitute the mostpopular duo of user generated content and a significant entertainment source for themajority of Internet users. Without question, these two media have great potential toshape and inform the expectations, standards and desires of all Internet viewers.Understanding how user generated content engages viewers is of immense value toprofessional digital media producers. 5. Copyright 2008, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 4stud yUser generated content continues to grow in both its popularity and prominencethroughout the Internet. As noted above, sites like Newgrounds and YouTube enablea broad base of Internet users to participate in the creation and propagation of usergenerated content. In many cases, user generated content competes with the traditionalcontent model of the Internet. The wild success of user generated content has inspiredmarketers and digital media producers to learn from and mimic the most successfulexamples of user generated content. The results presented in this report includerecommendations for producing digital media informed by an analysis of participantreactions to user generated Internet videos and Flash animations.The study discussed in this report explores participant reactions to and reflection ontheir experience with a wide range of user generated Internet media. For this study,participants were asked to watch six Internet videos or animations of their choosingfrom a collection of 60 videos and Flash animations gathered from three popular usergenerated content sites (Table 1). Videos were divided into eight genres to assistparticipants in selecting media related to their preferences. Participants were allowed towatch their six media in any order and were not instructed to watch any particular items.21 participants have completed the study watching a total of 136 videos and animations.Participants were 52% male, 48% female with 80% between 18-29.While watching their media, participants were connected to OTOinsights Quantemoneuromarketing research system. Quantemo simultaneously records multiplebiophysical signals (breath rate, galvanic skin response, heart rate, body temperature)in addition to eye and click tracking information. After recording the biophysicalmeasures, Quantemo combines the measures into a single representative measureof physiological engagement. The Quantemo Physiological Index or QPI serves asa single point of reference of the overall level of physical engagement (or disengagement)exhibited by a research participant. Positive QPI scores represent stronger physiologicalengagement while negative QPI scores represent weaker physiological engagement.table 1: User generated content sites used in this study.Site URL Media Em phasisYouTube w ww.youtube.com VideoNewgrounds www.newgrounds.com FlashAlbino BlackSheep www.albinoblacksheep.com Flash 6. Copyright 2008, One to One Interactive www.onetooneinteractive.com 5In addition to using the Quantemo system, participants in this study were asked tocomplete the following activities after viewing each video.1. Ratin g: Participants were asked to assign a 1- to 5-star rating for each video oranimation, with 1 the lowest and 5 the highest.2. Review : Participants were asked to write a short review of each video or animation.3. Emotional Taggin g: Participants were asked to select up to 3 of 36 possibleemotional descriptors to describe the emotional dimensions of each video or animation.The emotional tagging system used in the study is derived from the Geneva EmotionWheel (Scherer, 2005) developed by the researchers at the Swiss National ResearchCenter in Affective Sciences. The Geneva Emotion Wheel is designed to obtain self-reportinformation on a wide-range of felt emotions elicited by a particular event (in the case ofthis study, viewing user generated Internet media). For this study, we simplified the wheelinto a list of emotions and included the additional emotional descriptors recommendedby Scherer which are not part of the Geneva Emotion Wheel. Expanding the list ofemotional descriptors offers p