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User-Generated Content Is King
Web 2.0 Means You Too

 11:03 am on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

A report issued on Thursday by Nielsen/NetRatings states that:-

...user-generated content sites, platforms for photo sharing, video sharing and blogging, comprised five out of the top 10 fastest growing Web brands in July 2006.

Image hosting site ImageShack ranked No. 4 among July’s fastest growing Web brands, increasing 233 percent, from a unique audience of 2.3 million to 7.7 million (see Table 1). Heavy.com, a video sharing site, took the No. 5 spot, increasing 213 percent, from 965,000 to 3.0 million unique visitors. Photo sharing site Flickr followed at No. 6, growing 201 percent from 2.1 million to 6.3 million unique visitors. Other user-generated content sites that made it into the top 10 fastest growing Web brands were MySpace, with a 183 percent year-over-year increase, and Wikipedia, with a 181 percent year-over-year increase.


Detailed pdf report:-


Fastest growing online brands in UK - 2006

1. YouTube
2. Flickr
3. MySpace
4. American Express
5. Photobucket
6. Mozilla
7. Vodafone
8. Bebo
9. Odeon
10. B&Q

Note the lack of MP3/Music download sites in the top 10?



 11:21 am on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think that this has been obvious for a long time now.

Unique content is what lots of people (and hence search engines) like.

To get unique content you can either:

1. Employ lots of people to write stuff, costing you a small fortune.
2. Encourage users to prvoide you with that information, entirely for free (forums, review etc).

While its always been a hard choice ;) I usually go with option 2.

What's interesting for me personally though is the gradual swtich from people using the net to find information/buy things, to using it as a tool to communicate with each other, share things, and keep track of their friends.

With regard to the MP3, the list is only about the fastest growing brands - perhaps iTunes is very popular but has slowed in terms of "fastest growing". The list also doesn't take into account file sharing software.

[edited by: TravelSite at 11:27 am (utc) on Sep. 15, 2006]


 11:41 am on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

What's interesting for me personally though is the gradual swtich from people using the net to find information/buy things, to using it as a tool to communicate with each other, share things, and keep track of their friends.

Excellent point and one that perhaps most accurately defines "Web 2.0"?


 12:07 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

There is scant evidence that the existing profit making business models, the hot ones that are based upon CGC or UGC, have a deep - if any - appreciation of community ownership. [webmasterworld.com]

I would submit that 99.9999999% of the membership of the hot CGC/UGC websites don't own the community. Members may "belong". They may be attached. They may connect their existence to the fact that they post. They may exploit the benefits of the "free" (ad driven) service.

That's not ownership. That's a mob.

"Hey look! Over there! Wow, look at that! Cool!"

A failure to contemplate community ownership is likely why they will fail.

[edited by: Webwork at 12:13 pm (utc) on Sep. 15, 2006]


 12:17 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

To be honest unique content doesnt interest me, most of the things I am looking for though are to the point, I hate reading through things to find the content I want, if I cant see it immediatly im leaving...


 12:27 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

"To get unique content you can either:

1. Employ lots of people to write stuff, costing you a small fortune.
2. Encourage users to prvoide you with that information, entirely for free (forums, review etc). "

I think what is important to the surfer/user is the opportunity to communicate and bond. They are not necessarily looking to generate free content for others to exploit.

These kind of sites may generate huge interest and traffic but do they generate money?


 12:43 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I guess it's time to start working on Web 3.0...


 12:51 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

The money will come
Look @ myspace + google ad deal
look @ facebook + msn ad deal

more are coming

Web 2.0 is being FUNDED by the VCs
think internet 1999 . . .

BUT they learned great lessons so there is less waste and loss.

They will fund the R&D and when it doesn't grow revenue OR ebay, msoft, google, or yahoo buy them :) they look to roll them up to partner them OR sell them

this was really interesting:
Kiko (venture funded) was sold on EBAY (that is right EBAY) -

Start Ebay noted:
From Ebay listing:
Winning bid: US $258,100.00
Ended: Aug-26-06 10:18:08 PDT

Continued from the Ebay listing:
"Kiko currently has no advertising revenue, but it has a pagerank of 7. Since this auction was launched, we've had quite a few requests by individuals wanting to purchase licenses for the Kiko software. While we don't want to pursue this ourselves, this might be a good way for a buyer of Kiko to turn around and quickly make his or her money back."
. . .
"Kiko traffic has been steady at around 40k visitors / month."

End Ebay note:

I work in private equity so I see how this is heating up behind the scenes and how MANY deals are flying around . . .


 1:05 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

For every eBay and Google, there were hundreds of biz model that proved that free does not work. I learned that from reading Pud Kaplan's more well known website.


 1:26 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Amen! Power to the users! :)


 1:52 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

"Fastest growing online brands in UK - 2006

1. YouTube
2. Flickr
3. MySpace "

From :http://www.webmasterworld.com/content_copywriting/3084166.htm

-Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company, contends the wildly popular Web sites YouTube and MySpace are violating copyright laws by allowing users to post music videos and other content involving Universal artists.
"We believe these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars,"Universal Music CEO Doug Morris told investors Wednesday at a conference in Pasadena."How we deal with these companies will be revealed shortly." -


Ans:The Lawyers will have it soon.


 2:52 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think you have to evaluate this kind of data in context. Forums, user reviews, etc. generate a lot of pages and page views (as they have since the days of CompuServe and AOL), but that doesn't mean they're competing head to head with information and e-commerce sites.

When I want to talk about search, AdSense, etc., I come to Webmaster World. When I want to talk about travel writing, I go to a couple of community sites for travel writers. But when I want to check the day's news, I go to Google News, NYTimes.com, Washingtonpost.com, or Guardian.co.uk. And if I want to buy travel accessories, I'll go to an e-commerce site. The fact that Webmaster World might be growing faster than NYTimes.com or my favorite e-commerce site for travel accessories doesn't mean NYTimes.com or the e-commerce site are losing out to Webmaster World, or that my writing or reading of "user-generated content" at WW makes me less likely to visit news and e-commerce sites.


 3:01 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

What's truly interesting is the media's continuing falacious view that hoards of people showing-up to get free stuff is an indication of "growth."


 4:24 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I tihnk it's great..so when do these SHEEP wake up and realize the 2 Billion that YourTube wants (or the 600 mil for iVillage etc.. ad naseau) is all on they're backs?

They're all making them rich and don't get a penny for a site that they, the end user, has built.

Lol... DotBomb 2007 coming up... he he


 4:25 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Dogster, a social network for dogs, raised $1M bucks yesterday.

Before you laugh and think sock pocket, Dogster is profitable, does about 18M page views, and attracts high CPMs because pet owners spend like crazy.

UGC can take many forms.


 5:56 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think user-generated content (what we used to call "user-created content" or UCC) has its place. I just don't think it's going to replace everything else.


 7:02 pm on Sep 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

Note the lack of MP3/Music download sites in the top 10?

Because the iTunes Music Store isn't technically a "web site."


 10:42 am on Sep 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

I just don't think it's going to replace everything else

Don't underestimate a vertical than can go horizantal

People like you EFV have identified where to go for each service a long time ago, but there are millions joining the web community everyday, and new loyalties and attachments are forged every second.

The key is in the traffic critical mass, which you can divert later on to new verticals, no matter what the original site does.

e.g. AOL, an ISP, and it's content network
Google, a search engine, and it's eCommerce checkout and Google News..
Yahoo, a search engine, doing everything else
What's to prevent MySpace from pulling another eBay

If you have the brand and traffic, the horizantal possibilities are limitless, even very narrow verticals like WebMasterWorld, old geezers like us might stick to their guns, new fresh members are more open to possibilities.


 3:26 pm on Sep 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hobbs, "horizontals" may well generate new "verticals" for their businesses (e.g., Yahoo creating Yahoo Travel), but that doesn't mean they're going to replace anything else.

One problem with user-created content is that it's unwieldy. Planning a trip to London with TripAdvisor or VirtualTourist or IGoUgo, for example, is a lot harder than planning a trip to London with TimeOut.com or Fodors.com or Frommers.com.

Another problem is the lack of a consistent voice or "trust factor." Webmaster World is a perfect example of that problem: There's a lot of good information in these forum threads, but there's also a lot of misinformation, and there's a lot of opinion presented as fact. Someone who's setting up a Web site probably wouldn't want to start by reading 100,000 forum messages at Webmaster World; he'd want to start by reading a manual or Web tutorial and use WW's forums for additional information and insights after he knows enough to read critically and to find what he's looking for.

BTW, I think AOL is a good example of how the Web has reduced the power of the "network effect." The fact that you could find all kinds of forums, information providers, etc. under one roof mattered in the days of proprietary online services, but today, that's no longer true. Remember how we were being told, back in the late 1990s, that portals were going to control the Web? (Try telling that now to the folks who owned the @Home network, which paid $7.2 billion for Excite in 1999 and went into Chapter 11 two years later.)

There's a place for user-created content--just as there's still a place for portals--but UCC isn't the solution for every user's every need. It's just one tool in the toolbox.


 4:09 pm on Sep 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

I didn't mean to say that UGC can replace authority informative sites, I was saying that traffic critical mass from Web 2.0 new community or verticals like WW should not be underestimated in its power to mutate and sprout other successful verticals, who in turn are born giants from day one, those offsprings are the ones capable of replacing or at least hurting the market share of well established giants, probably explains Google's recent products fertility, which can be seen as a preemptive move.


 5:12 pm on Sep 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

User generated content is definitely the new way to grow a site, but in my opinion combining that business model with the old business model of paying a small fortune for content will set some sites apart in the near future.

Work smarter not harder....scratch that, work smarter and harder.


 1:26 pm on Sep 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

Not all user-created content is necessarily generated in the context of a "community". Consider one of the oldest and most successful examples -- Amazon's user reviews of books.

I would venture a guess that only a minority of the people who write these reviews feel like they are part of a community, and the vast majority of Amazon's users probably don't feel like they are part of a community -- although they may exhibit some degree of brand loyalty, like habitual users of particular detergents.

I'd like to see more discussion of how the concept of an online "community" is distinct from that of "user created content" and what it means to have "ownership" of such a community.

I'm not sure where sites like tripadvisor fit into the overall spectrum of possibilities, but this site category strikes me as being very different from traditional forums like WebmasterWorld, which come much closer to resembling a true "community," and which are much harder to monetize.

As well, it would be interesting to see more discussion of how user created content can be combined in interesting ways with other, more traditional site formats (e.g. authoritative information-providing sites like Fodors or the NYT).

My intuition is that some of the fast growing sites mentioned in the initial post are benefiting from (exploiting) certain fundamental attributes or features of the web -- features which are not as widely adopted today as they will ultimately be. And that these attributes or features (all related to two way communication) will soon be more widely adopted by many other sites.


 10:31 pm on Sep 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

That was something expected but interesting that American Express website is in TOP 10 too


 11:45 pm on Sep 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

B&Q are in the top 10 for online growth? No way.


 1:51 pm on Sep 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

econman's example of Amazon is interesting, because a lot of the "community"-type stuff they've tried lately hasn't taken off, such as giving each product its own Customer Discussion Board and ProductWiKi. (And from what I've seen, "not taken off" is putting it mildly - more like unused.) I'd agree that the things that have worked there, such as customer reviews, listmania, etc., work out of loyalty to a product or a niche (or unhappiness with a product) more than to a sense of community - you know your opinion will get a lot of eyeballs if you post it there.

[edited by: Beagle at 1:52 pm (utc) on Sep. 18, 2006]


 2:21 pm on Sep 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

I gave up on writing reviews for Amazon sites when I got the impression that they were only accepting reviews with a positive spin. If I wrote that a product was poor, the review never seemed to make it onto the product page.

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