Impact - Increased Audience Participation

Advertainment is not simply created by professional advertising agencies. It is not simply entertaining advertising that consumers watch. Advertainment can take on a different form as well: advertising produced by amateurs, people who advertisers define as consumers, who produce advertising for reasons including their own enjoyment and love of the brand. This direction of advertainment can be divided into two categories: consumer-generated advertising: “companies asking regular people to submit homemade ads for various products” (Stevenson, 2007), and fan culture: fans of a product or work creating content based on the original work such as a story, a movie, or a video game mod (Jenkins, 2006). Although at first glance it appears that the impact of new forms of advertising is a change to a more participatory culture, this is not the case. In this section, I am going to prove that consumers always had the drive to produce their own content, but technology provides the means and the platform. I am also going to prove that although consumers may feel more in control due to the act of creating, advertisers are in fact leveraging the market to cut costs and increase revenues through consumer generated advertising. Impact on society: impact on consumer and producer??1

Changes in technology and market structure facilitated people’s innate desires to create consumer-generated advertising and fan culture. With the high-speed digitally networked environment of today’s internet, people can easily circulate media content, which makes sharing much easier and more feasible than it was without the technology (Jenkins, 2006). However, technology did not cause consumers to become active content creators; it only provided a means to do so. According to Jenkins (2006): “None of this is new…The Web provides a powerful new distribution channel for amateur cultural production. Amateurs have been making home movies for decades” (132). Following advancements in technology, costs of creation have decreased so substantially that it is now feasible for amateurs to create quality products on a low budget. Furthermore, the companies themselves sometimes provide the technology to produce consumer-generated advertising or fan culture for free. For example, when Chevy sponsored a competition for amateurs to create a commercial for the Tahoe, Chevy provided video clips, music, and an interface to provide text—all free (Rose, 2006). In addition, Atomfilms.com, “the official host for Star Wars fan films” hosts the films for free, provides sound effects, and has occasional contests (Jenkins, 2006, p. 154).

Impact on consumer? The prevalence of consumer-generated advertising and fan culture is causing creation to become more extrinsically motivated. Motivations to create are also extrinsic, or: “imposed on individuals from the outside…threats of punishment or reward” (Benkler, 2006, 3) such as making $$$ and being recognized, not just for home anymore. Prizes ($$$) from contests. Recognition, fame, being seen on TV. According to Benkler (2006): “there will be some acts that a person would prefer to perform not for money, but for social standing, recognition, and probably, ultimately, instrumental value” (5).

The prevalence of advertisements in society has created a stock (need to change word) of images and concepts that have become mainstream in contemporary society. Consumers can exploit these images not just for money or fame, but they can create mock advertisements as a form of political protest, an activity known as adbusting: “which borrows iconography from Madison Avenue to deliver an anticorporate or anticonsumerist message” (Jenkins, 2006, 137).

Impact on producer. Some of the changes in production costs are not new; in fact, they are allowed because marketers are incredibly savvy, and they want to tap into the consumer’s drive to create to increase brand loyalty, cut costs of advertising, and increase promotion opportunities. One fact that companies are taking into consideration is that consumers are trusting professional advertisements less and word of mouth buzz more. In a study, consumers were found to be 50% more likely to be influenced by word of mouth recommendations from their peers than by radio/TV ads (Nielsen BuzzMetrics, 2005). Thus, advertisers are exploring alternate routes. Cheaper. Example: free labor (Deuze, 2007). Seen more. Example: Chevy’s site attracted 629,000 viewers by the time Chevy picked a winner (Rose, 2006). Liked more: “they can indeed see how they can benefit from the free publicity they represent—and who doesn’t like being adored?” (Jenkins, 2006, p. 153). Thus, one consequence of new advertising on society are companies’ increasing dependence on consumers to promote and advertise their product.

Another consequence: increased control. The very reason that certain forms of consumer generated advertising and fan culture are so cheap is that it allows companies to control their brand and their image (Jenkins, 2006). Compare Star Wars and Tahoe. Constraints of the medium (similar look, need to keep to the storyline, even though Tahoe didn’t take anything down, still used Chevy-provided images and clips).

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