User-generated content did not start with the Internet, but the digital media revolution has turned it into a disruptive force. Both traditional and new media publishers will find it an addiction increasingly harder to control and new revenue models will have to emerge.
The media industry did not discover the value of user-generated content with the Internet. From letters-to-theeditor and talkback radio to the TV game show and chat show formats, user contributions to media content have been with us for some time.
What the Internet has done, however, is place control of that contribution squarely in the hands of the user or community creating it. Control not just from a production/publishing perspective, but also from a consumption perspective.
This disruptive shift has serious implications for the traditional advertising and subscription revenue models of the media industry. Content-generating groups will increasingly find this kind of revenue intrusion unacceptable, but their creative behavior could offer media owners and marketers with a new, more engaging approach to addressing them.
Loss of control
Arguments that the user-generated content revolution is ushering in an age of unmitigated content mediocrity are firmly couched in the old-media model of the world. Traditional media creates markets by controlling access to content of value, but that control also spawned their position as arbiters of what constituted value or "quality".
Many traditional media publishers still cling to this position (figuratively more than factually) and many traditional consumers still subscribe to this view.