YouTube has spent years trying to figure out how to monetize its mostly amateur-quality, user-created content.
The company has turned to pre-roll and post-roll ads, but Google CEO Eric Schmidt acknowledges that the "perfect ad product for YouTube has not been invented yet."
Perhaps Google is looking to the wrong inventors.
Traditional "Madison Avenue" advertising has failed YouTube. I agree with the sentiment expressed recently on the Marcom Professional blog:
In my opinion, one of the reasons that videos spread is the homemade quality....People are advertised to thousands of times a day. We see countless commercial messages all the time. We crave authenticity.
So why not user-generated commercials? Yes, I know there are all sorts of trademark and other concerns, but let's face it: I'd rather watch an amateur video for Heinz Ketchup than just about anything Heinz could develop. (In fact, someone just sent me this homemade video for "Ketchup Boy," pitching Heinz Ketchup.) I bet user-generated commercials would actually become a destination in and of themselves.
How about it, Google?