Defining ‘user’ in ‘user-generated content’

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While advertisers try to figure out what (if anything) to do with “user-generated content,” they’re likely to see more of it as broadband connections become increasingly common. A new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project says the number of Americans who have broadband at home jumped from 60 million to 84 million between March 2005 and March 2006. Growth has been brisk among middle-class households “and particularly fast for African Americans,” as well as among people with low levels of education. The report notes that broadband users are significantly more likely than their dial-up counterparts to post material online. Thus, the spread of broadband is changing the demographics of user-generated content. When Pew first looked at the matter in 2002, such content was largely the province of “a ‘broadband elite’ of mostly male technophiles.” No longer. In the current research, broadband users in households with income under $50,000 were slightly more likely than those in higher-income households to say they’ve put content online. Of course, we can take it for granted that most of this content has nothing to do with advertising. But there’s a growing base of people who are candidates to make brand-related postings online—whether the brands in question like it or not.

—Posted by Mark Dolliver