Yahoo is getting ready to shoot a collection of user-generated content into space.
This week, Yahoo breaks a Time Capsule promotion inviting consumers to submit video, photos, songs and text to put in its digital “time capsule.”
Yahoo will take the collection to Teotihuacan, Mexico, where it will project the contents onto the 2004-year-old Pyramid of the Sun—and then deflect the projections into space.
The effort underscores Yahoo’s commitment to harnessing user-generated content not just to build site usage, but to help shape the brand. It’s one element of what Yahoo CMO Cammie Dunaway calls “participation marketing,” letting the brand’s top users collaborate on content, then help disseminate it to promote the brand. “Content is an invitation for consumers to help reinvent your brand,” she said last week at the Association of National Advertisers’ 2006 Annual Conference.
The Time Capsule campaign follows a summer promotion for Yahoo’s 10-month-old Yahoo Answers service, a vast bulletin board that lets site visitors post questions on any topic, to be answered by other Yahoo users. Yahoo Answers rolled out in May after a beta test that began in December 2005 and fielded 10 million answers in the intervening five months. Consumers who register, then answer questions, can earn points for participating; the more points they earn, the more users can ask, answer and vote for the best answer to a question. (Participants who garner a lot of “best answer” votes build a reputation on the site as experts on their topics.)
The summer promotion for Yahoo Answers, dubbed “Ask the Planet 2006,” put 22 of the site’s top vote-getters (dubbed “Brainiacs” for the campaign) inside a giant, purple brain-shaped capsule atop the Hard Rock Café in Times Square to answer questions posted by Yahoo visitors worldwide. The 22 consumers worked in shifts for three days, answering questions; PCs set up nearby let passers by submit questions, too. A live Webcast and photos on Yahoo-owned Flickr covered the action in Times Square (PROMO Xtra, June 14, 2006).
A sweeps overlay gave Yahoo visitors one entry each time they answered a question, or their answer was voted as the best (by the person asking the question). Daily drawings awarded prizes related to the type of question, ranging from a $5,000 “expense account” (for the Business & Finance segment) to a trip to the NASA Astronaut Training Experience in Orlando and lunch with a former astronaut (the Science category). Yahoo Canada tied in by hosting a Question of the Day for about four weeks, seeding in questions from celebrities including Al Gore, physicist Stephen Hawking and U2 leader Bono.
Overall, Ask the Planet 2006 boosted Yahoo Answers usage 31% and bumped up awareness 19%, Dunaway said.