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Weekly Online Poll

Is crowdsourcing a real threat to the agency business?


  • Yes
  • No


Yes, but only if they don't embrace it. After all, combining an Agency's relationship management and client knowledge with the continuity in fresh ideas from crowdsourcing could be a powerful proposition for clients.
Crowdsourcing an already commoditized skill like graphic design, isn't a danger to the industry, because that's already happening.

But questions like who has strategic oversight and what to do about spec can't be ignored.

At this point, crowdsourcing raises more questions that it solves, and it'll be interesting to see how new models like Victors & Spoils keeps the best and avoids the worst of the idea.

The inability to provide real answers to these questions is the mark of an industry in danger of devaluing itself out of business.

David Wiggs
"Victors and Spoils." Toast in a year. And by the way... It's not a new model. Just 'cos the NYT says so, doesn't make it so.
Brands need marketing partners that understand the product from a strategic standpoint. Unless crowdsourcing can address that need, it's a short-lived experiment (not even a fad).
Graphic design is only "commoditized" by people who can't tell the good from the bad. Perhaps the real lesson to be learned from crowdsourcing is that when the work isn't subjected to layers of review, with middle managers second-guessing what their boss will like, an occasional pearl will surface.
Crowdsourcing is a tactic that intelligent client and agency partners understand and incorporate into their strategies. It's also, at this point in time, still a bit novel, and therefore is being used as such.
There are a couple of good books on the theory of crowds. Read them.
And then explain why they are a threat to agencies?
Are we that paranoid?
This is a concept that will work for the first one or two advertisers, and then fall flat for all the "also-rans" who lack the creativity to find their own means of breaking out of the box. It will hurt a few agencies, but only in the short-run. It's a horrible idea, in terms of the advertising that will result, but it WILL get lots of free publicity for those first couple of advertisers.
No crowdsourcing is not a threat it may not even be a tool - simple because a small minority of active interested voters chose their 'favorite' does not mean it is the best strategy for the brand. This is another example of jumping on a trend and trying to make more of it than it is. BTW, if the process shows even an inkling of effectiveness, how long will it take agencies to 'seed' the crowds with partial voters?
It's only a threat to agencies that fail to embrace it. The megaphone is the other around now, agencies and brand either choose to listen or bury their heads in the ground. The challenge is to convert Advertising Interruption into Advertising Interaction. The crowd will dictate how they want this to happen. Who's listening, and whose ears are full of sand?
All new things are good, anything that gets the potential client to pay attention and feel like they are in participation with the product is also good. Agencies come and go, rise and fall. It's the nature of what we do.
There is no wisdom in crowds. They react to momentary stimuli and influence and then move on. If brands believe they can be one thing today and another tomorrow -- reflecting the crowd's latest craze or fears or misconceptions -- then there is no brand at all.

Clients may think it's a "cost-effective" option today, but the gradual loss of marketshare will be painful on the bottom line tomorrow.
There are stil a lot of agencies stuck in a 1970s mode of doing business. These dinosaurs are hurt by every marketing innovation, be it minor or major in nature. As long as ultimate execution of campaigns continues to obsess on the CPP and CPM of overnight No Charge spots, these fossil shops will continue to be negatively impacted. Thosse that have dared venture into the 21st Century will embrace and prosper by using new ideas.
Digital trends being what they are, anyone who creates content is going up against millions of others who are creating content. So competition is going to drive down the price that agencies and the people who do work for them can charge.

I've seen a lot of bad uses of crowdsourcing in music. Bands are asked to submit music for a campaign, then the public is invited to vote. Often the band that wins isn't the best band, but was able to get more people to vote for them. And sometimes the winning music turns out to be a bad fit and isn't used for the campaign other than in a token way. The goal probably never was to find good music, but rather to get fans to look at the contest.

I haven't been impressed with some of the graphic designs that result from public contests.

If the agency or client does the choosing, then it becomes a matter of essentially opening up the submission process to a bigger pool of mini-agencies. Whether the result is better for the agencies, the creatives who submit, and the clients depends on how many good ideas come in and the time involved to sift through them.

So, in summary, I see crowdsourcing changing the landscape by generating more submissions, which will drive down price. Whether the end result is better than what agencies currently produce depends on many factors.
The client is engaging their potential consumers, which is good. Then, they're ultimately choosing their agency based on the content that most moves those potential consumers... not based on the agency's willingness to cut corners/costs. Sounds like a win-win.
Only if agencies fail to understand what it really is. Hint: it's not about competitions. It's about collaboration. I just wrote a blog about this very topic: http://pricegroupblog.com/2009/11/crowdsourcing-vs-competitions/
When you use it because you ran out of own ideas, it can kill the brand - and you. But if you keep strict control over brand strategy and brand personality it is a smart way to create a dialog with your existing and potential consumers.
Crowd sourcing doesn't need a client to initiate it. Agencies that stay really close to consumers have used it for ages albeit not on the same scale as now. It's more illuminating than threatening.
our blog about this topic http://bigheadsnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/09/possibly-worst-headline-in-advertising.html
"Crowdsourcing" is the algorithm for "the emperor has no clothes." Kraft's Vegemite and cream cheese disaster is to me the perfect example.
within a niche there is room for crowdsourced loyalty in product development--Dewmocracy--can work, if the correct demographic is heard.
Yes, the advertising and branding industry has a lot to fear from the demos. That's why most stable countries are republics.
Name an industry more rooted in creativity and engagement with consumers? If advertising as an industry can't harness the value of crowdsourcing for the good of their clients, no one else can.

Bring it on!

Mike Lauber
The commenting period on this poll has ended.