User-submitted ads: Use some common sense

By Steve Outing

User-generated ads are a risky business, as Chevrolet found out with a campaign that invited people to create their own ads for the gas-slurping Tahoe SUV. (The New York Times reports on some nasty submissions. Here’s one of the user ads.) But just because Chevy got muddied by people making fun of its product on its own website doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to invite online users to participate directly in ad campaigns.

But here’s some advice for advertisers: Don’t go there if you have a product that’s ripe for public ridicule. You’ll probably want to avoid public interaction if you’re advertising SUVs, cigarettes, Wal-mart … you get the idea.

For my company, I’ve been working with a sponsor for our upcoming first website, and I’m trying to talk them into allowing website users to comment on their ads. It’s a safe product that is unlikely to get blasted, and probably would benefit from a direct exchange with consumers. They’re rightfully cautious about the concept, but are considering it.

The user-generated advertising concept is a bit like the wiki. Wikis can be deployed for lots of interesting and useful applications, but there are some things that simply should be avoided — like opening up a newspaper editorial to the wiki format.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

2 Responses to "User-submitted ads: Use some common sense"

  1. B.L. Ochman
    B.L. Ochman 11 years ago .Reply

    Yes, I am indeed behind and in front on Ethics Crisis, and so happy that you like the concept.

    We\'re rather amazed at the confessions and more so about the ratings by the community. Seems like you\'d have to really do something dreadful before the majority would rate it as never acceptable.

    Ethics is the hot topic in global business and, judging by the enthusiastic reception Ethics Crisis has gotten, we seem to have struck a nerve.

    The concept of the blog is to distinguish SRF Global from the hundreds of multilanguage translation companies online, and to get user generated content. And, since multilanguage translation of corporate ethics codes and compliance materials is SRF\'s specialty, this made sense. Time will tell whether it\'ll also make money.:>)

  2. JosephG
    JosephG 10 years ago .Reply

    Pizza Hut is running a contest like this right now, and so far theirs seems to be pretty successful, you can see it at They seem to have neatly avoided getting negative submissions by requiring that all submissions be submitted for approval before being entered into the contest. Worth a look, anyway.

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