Route CGA: Put the Prize Money Down!


"The folks who are truly amateurs are creating some remarkably relevant work..." - Moderator Neil Perry,, in The Golden Rule of CGA - Know Thy Ad Creator, ad:tech.

For those who ain't hip to the jive, Perry describes CGA thus: Creative produced by the general public.

For me, the star of this panel was probably Kevin Nalty - better known as Nalts of YouTube fame.

A marketing director at a pharma firm by day, Nalts has taken to producing YouTube videos (oops - I mean CGA) by night. By now, he's produced over 500. Some have graced the top of YouTube's annals of fame; others have crashed and burned. At some point you ought to check out his half-entertainment, half-video-strategy-oriented site, Will video for food.

I first saw Nalts in a collaboration video with fellow YouTuber HappySlip, where he sneaks into her house and steals her stapler.

"It went on eBay for, like, $800!" he divulged to me later.

Such is the power of CGA love.

Nalts kicked us off by describing a few reasons why customers might want to get actively involved in a brand conversation:

• They feel truly evangelistic about the product (or else they hate you and want to burn you down, says I)
• They want fame
• They want money - and they're either monetizing their videos, or expecting you to pay them.

After these distinctions were presented an executive from Dove, expectedly bombarded by questions about Dove Evolution, described his firm's pragmatic approach to the topic that's got everybody firing their best Foosball players.

CGA, he said, is a tool like any other for obtaining business objectives. By no means should it carry the full weight of a marketing campaign.

In the case of Dove Evolution, CGA happened afterward, in the form of consumer responses (mainly spoofs, from what I saw, but maybe I was looking for them. You get really sick of people showing you that commercial after awhile).

So while CGA was embraced as a component of the Evolution campaign, it occurred as a supplement to advertising; not as a replacement.

"CGA is a piece of the puzzle, but it's not the whole picture," he said.

My brain hugged him.

The ball bounced back to Nalts, who gave us the down and dirty: CGA ain't the golden key we think it is. Most of the time click-thrus on a consumer-generated campaign are very poor, and overenthusiastic executives who milk the tactic are later forced to answer for low, single-digit conversions. Oopsy.


And the 500+ video king himself admits the process is unpredictable. Even now, he admits having no idea what will generate two million hits overnight and what will flop miserably.

The wisest course? Keep your cost of entry down.

Consider, which launched a CGA contest called Possession Obsession in August. Did they really have to wave $20K in the air?

And regardless of how many fantastic stuffed animal-hoarding film makers it unearthed, do you imagine they made $20K back in click-thrus?

Nalts, who's joined a ton of CGA contests in his time, urges, "Don't give away $10,000 as the top prize! Give away $1,000." Why overpromise for unpredictable - and likely shoddy - returns?

The key takeaway: if you're going Route CGA, make it a supplement to a real advertising effort. It's been a great dam-breaker for sparking conversations between advertisers and customers, and for finding real film-making talent in the rough.

But it's wasteful, dangerous and generally fruitless to try harnessing raw consumer creativity - and nothing but! - when you've got a bottom line to satisfy.

Oh, yeah. Before you go out on a limb and risk making a fool of yourself (think Heinz), check out a "brand conversation" tracking tool like Nielsen BuzzMetrics to find out how people already feel about you.

Might as well go in prepared.

Written by Angela Natividad    Comments (4)     File: Industry Events     Nov- 9-07  
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It's pretty funny to see someone typing furiously in the front row of the panel. You know she's either blogging or having a really, really good IM session. Looks like it was the former.

Nice coverage!

Posted by: nalts on November 9, 2007 01:16 PM

It's pretty funny to watch Nalts sit on a panel and record his audience. I think I took a picture of that, actually...

Posted by: Angela on November 9, 2007 07:25 PM

I'm just glad the panelist next to me didn't see me videotaping myself pretending to fall asleep. I should have pointed the camera at you, and made it my thumbnail on YouTube. That'd be worth a few thousand views.

Posted by: nalts on November 9, 2007 09:27 PM

Aw shucks, Nalts.

Added pictures to the post. Managed to nail a sneaky shot of you capturing the audience on film...

Posted by: Angela on November 11, 2007 10:49 PM

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