Crowdsourcing V Co-Creation

Just wanted to post a quick follow up to my piece on the Croudsourcery panel that took place at JWT last week.

I was in a meeting this morning with Jory Des Jardins, the Co-Founder of BlogHer, a phenomenally popular blogging community for women, and in mentioning a particular facet of crowdsourcing, she got me thinking….

Jory stopped short of advocating every project being crowdsourced, but emphasized the importance of brands using communities of consumers to help them with select and mould a creative idea.

Many employees of creative agencies, and in particular the Creative department, navigate the issue of crowdsourcing with considerable trepidation. And who can blame them. While lots of us are excited at the opportunity and potential, some of my creative brothers (and I by no means want to suggest this rule applies to all of them) worry that they will be cut out the creative process, and that their worth will be rendered greatly diminished.

I have heard several solutions to this potential problem. Jory’s was that creative agencies should become the curators of the crowdsourced content, using their creative know how and strategic chops to select the content that will best deliver for the brand. This to me sounds like a potentially excellent solution. Consumers are empowered to have a say in the brand’s future- the idea, will after all ultimately come from them- while agencies retain some loose control of the idea, exerting a light guiding hand that steers away from stormy waters.

Perhaps rather than curator, the agency’s role could be better described as alchemist. Rather than choosing one complete idea over another, they might take elements of several ideas and help meld them together to create one uber idea, or perhaps solid gold. Clearly the term crowdsourcing requires further definition and etymological analysis as it  currently means a lot of things to a lot of people. However, I still like to imbue it with a sense of collaboration, so the notion of an idea being created by many rather than one individual, appeals to me, especially as it leaves more consumers feeling like they are part of something.

A few lingering concerns- Where does crowdsourcing end and co-creation begin? I don’t think these terms are interchangeable, but I am yet to hear a clear articulation on their precise differences. Also, to what extent will consumers, especially given that most of those who dedicate time to winning crowdsourcing competitions are far from the amateurs we like to imagine they are, accept us taking elements of their idea, and meddling with them?

I could go on and on. But I wont. Would love to hear your thoughts on the topic…

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4 responses to “Crowdsourcing V Co-Creation

  1. Dylan, I love that word: “Alchemist”. There is still a creative role for the creative agency. There still needs to be some strategy in crowdsourced ideas. Your wording gives this art some science to it!

    Great to meet you!

  2. Thanks for the kind words Jory. A pleasure to meet you.

  3. Dylan, you’ve hit on something which may be key to the future of ad agency business.

    A lot of ad ideas that are crowdsourced successfully are generated by people from the ad industry, not inexperienced outsiders. Unilever found this out last year.

    The issue with the Alchemist approach, much as I love the idea, is that ethically and practically one must pay for all that one uses or the model will break down. Social media are great for both crowdsourcing and for outing rip-off artists.

    Ad agencies have always used freelances when they’ve been short-handed. Crowdsourcing may become globalized freelancing or could be part of a new model for the ad agency business.

    Jory’s point that crowdsourcing consumer views of ad ideas to help shape them is right on the money. What better way to ensure for relevance and resonance.

    Traditional ways of researching ad ideas with target audiences using off-line companies remain deeply flawed, as well as slow and expensive. They are “disaster-checks” at best.

    Great posts, Dylan.

  4. Some great points Mike.

    There have been several agencies that have experimented with a global freelance model over the last decade. If this is indeed a modern manifestation of crowdsourcing then perhaps is is not as new an idea as some people might suggest.

    Thanks for the contribution

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