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Are Enough Users Generating Content?



It looks like eMarketer is afraid of the impending UGC creator shortage. That, or they’re crying wolf. And they’d never do something like that. Why, the very idea!

Anyway, eMarketer starts off by asking the all-important UGC question, “Are enough people recording their cats?” Their answer is, “Apparently not,” because UGC users outnumber creators. With 69.1 million users last year in the US and 128 million users worldwide, and “only” 63.7 million US creators (117.9 million worldwide), they seem to think we’ll be running out of videos of cats playing the piano.

I take this as refreshing. Weren’t we just worrying about whether or not there could ever be enough people interested in all the UGC out there to actually watch it all? And yes, while 5.4 and 10.1 million people are lots, we’re talking about an 8.5% difference (US and worldwide). (You really want to put it into perspective: the difference represents 1.8% of the US population and 0.17% of the world population.)

Apparently trying to incite mass hysteria, they project this trend to continue for the next five years. In 2011, we’ll have only 95.1 million people in the US and 237.7 million people worldwide creating UGC to the 101.1 million users in the US and 253.6 million users worldwide. Aside from the fact that we can scarcely know what UGC will look like in four years, why should we believe that both of these growth rates will remain completely steady?

Well, if you’ll excuse me, I do need to go get Whiskers to her piano lessons. Take that, Nora!

  • http://www.brianvuyk.com Brian

    One major problem with their analysis is that they assume that in order for the Web2.0 / User-Generated-Content model to be effective, you have to have the same amount of people creating content as consuming it when in practice, the balance is quite different.

    Think of a blog, such as this one. You wrote this article, and it was consumed by probably ~6000-7500 readers, of which over half do not blog themselves or otherwise provide UGC.

    This is just a small example. However, it goes to show that one piece of content can provide for thousands of consumers.

    Another example: look at Wikipedia – as far as I know, under 10% of Wikipedia visitors have ever edited, yet alone edited with any kind of consistency. Yet, do you see Wikipedia’s visitor base dropping off because they don’t have enough editors?

    Once again, there is no need for a 1:1 correspondence between creators and consumers.

    Now, let’s hope that came out somewhat coherently!

  • Jordan McCollum

    I understood and agree!

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Jordan and Brian – good observations. Surely most media has far more consumers than creators. I know for sure, I want more readers at MP than contributors – it would be hard to hire another 8,000+ writers. ;-)

  • http://www.brianvuyk.com Brian

    @Andy

    Or the other option, you only have ~10 readers!

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    @Brian – I’ll take option A instead. ;-)

  • http://www.pianolessons101.com Daniel

    What an interesting article. However, as a musician, I’d like to know where Whiskers is taking piano lessons?

    Keep up the informative articles.