Portada interviews Jimena Urquijo (photo), VP Business Development of Kantar Media-TGI Latina. Jimena Urquijo talks about the importance of UGC and WOM in Latin America. The executive explains how both forms of communication are evolving globally and in Latin America and why digital media properties and brand owners should take them into consideration to reach Latin American consumers.
Portada: How could you define UGC?
Jimena Urquijo: UGC and social networking has evolved into a means for consumers to share personal updates and views and to contribute to the spreading of news. Through means such as Twitter, people anywhere can report what they are seeing. Users disseminate it not only to their ‘friends’, but to people unknown to them – followers, followers of followers, even followers of followers of followers.
User-Generated Content, or UGC according to Wikipedia: “covers a range of media content available in a range of modern communications technologies. It entered mainstream usage during 2005 having arisen in web publishing and new media content production circles. Its use for a wide range of applications, including problem processing, news, gossip and research, reflects the expansion of media production through new technologies that are accessible and affordable to the general public. All digital media technologies are included, such as question-answer databases, digital video, blogging, podcasting, forums, review sites, social networking, mobile phone photography and wikis.”
This wide definition is appropriate as it establishes the potential growth of UGC. Attitudes towards User Generated content differ around the world and Latin American internet users are among the most engaged with UGC .
Portada: How is UGC evolving in Latin America?
Jimena Urquijo: The levels of engagement with User Generated Content (UGC), social media habits and reading articles or comments online is high in Latin America and varies significantly by country. Latin America features strongly. 47% of internet users in Brazil and 44% in Argentina read UGC on newspaper websites compared to only 35% in GB and 26 % in Germany. In Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, The % of internet users submitting articles or comments to public websites increased from 11.9% to 23.4% of internet users between 2010 and 2011. (TGI.NET). In comparison, this drops to only 17% in Germany and 12 % in GB.
The UGC engagement level and the blogging/posting behavior in Latin America is also fueled by the influence it has on consumers and the meaning of social media to the Latin American consumer.
Portada: Is this a global trend. Will it continue to grow?
Jimena Urquijo: This trend is global but varies significantly by region. There are a few elements that may indicate continued growth for UGC: internet penetration, new access devices and trust.
Internet penetration: there is still a lot of room for growth in countries like Brazil, India, China. The larger the Internet base the more potential for UGC development . In the past five years Internet penetration increased by 52%. This trend is likely to continue. The increased usage of internet access devices such as mobile phones, consoles , IPads, pave the way for increased internet usage and increased UGC. Not only is there a larger base but more opportunities and devi ces to interact with. Latin American internet users trust online content but to a lesser degree than other markets, In Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and France the agreement is over 80%. When asked how important it was that they trusted he websites they visited in general, Brazil shows 73% agreement and Argentina 71% agreement. This may help explain the acceptance and willingness to contribute content.
So the answer is UGC is here to stay, probably increase over time and steadily influence consumer’s purchase decisions and opinions. People who post comment on Public websites represent 23.4% of the internet base in Argentina , Brazil and Mexico. The growth of UGC is also fueled by the influence it has on other people.
Source: TGI.NET- Internet users 15-64 years of age in major urban centers
Close to half of consumers agree that “consulting other people’s opinion helps me make decisions on important purchases” and 25% of internet users in these three important markets acknowledge that blogs and comments influence their opinion. Close to 60% of users agree that they prefer websites that accept comments from its users. In light of the importance of UGC in consumers’ lives, the question is how do Media and brand owners adapt to this change.
Portada: Why do you think UGC is so popular in Latin America?
Jimena Urquijo: Latin Americans are outspoken, informed and open to new technologies. Latin America has leapfrogged into the Internet bandwagon which may partially explain why UGC is so popular and growing so fast in the region. The region bypasses certain phases in the launch of new media and new technologies. Most new Media and technologies launched in the region take 3 to 7 years to explode compared to a longer span for growth for well established markets in the US or Western Europe. About half of internet users in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico agree with the following statement: “I am able to integrate into my life all available information and technology “(TGI.NET 2011). Internet penetration in Latin America increased 52% in the past five years, up to 56% penetration (Consumers 12-64 years of age in all major urban center s who have used the Internet in the past three months). There is a cultural element as well. Latin American consumers are outspoken, informed and have well rounded opinions. Close to 83% of Latin American Internet users believe it is important to be well informed about things; This combined with the increased access to the internet provides them with a channel to express their opinions, something they have not had yet.
Portada: How does this trend affect Digital Media in the region?
Jimena Urquijo: UGC and social networks present an opportunity for Media and brand owners to attract new audiences and keep in touch with their audiences, readers and consumers and spur brand awareness .There is much to gain from social networking strategies, and having a serious presence on these sites. The size of the social networking audience, the receptiveness to UGC and the influence it has on consumers are some of the key ingredients for success on this platform.
Brand owners may need special attention to the growth of UGC and social networking engagement as it helps spur brand awareness. The sheer number of people accessing social networking sites in three major markets (see table below) reflects the importance of this advertising platform. Latin America stands out compared to the UK with over 75% of internet users having accessed Facebook compared to 59% in GB. Latin American consumers read other people’s opinions and are optimistic
Source: TGI.NET in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and GB ( internet users 15-64 in major urban areas
Portada: Do you think UGC and WOM are important to reach Latin American consumers?
Jimena Urquijo: Word of Mouth is key to reach the Latin American consumer. Based on our WOM segmentation over one third of internet users are champions or influencers in the Alcoholic drinks category and close to 30% in the financial services category. This again demonstrates how receptive Latin American internet users are and how they can readily form and express an opinion.
Champions or influencers for the Alcoholic drinks category
Champions or influencers financial services/credit cards category
UGC, Social networking, WOM in Latin America are key for Media and Brand owners to retain, gain and grow audience, readers and consumers. The size of the audience, their receptiveness to UGC, their ability to form and express opinions present a great opportunity to spur brand awareness and consolidate brand positioning.