Crowdsourced Advertising: It’s Not Just Cheap Labor


ADOTAS – Survey today’s brand marketers and advertisers about the role of crowdsourcing in the industry, and you’ll receive a range of reviews. While a growing number of advertisers have embraced the practice, some skeptics question its reliability and fear that the practice undercuts the value of agency services. Having contributed to more than 200 campaigns, our company, Zooppa, has found that cutting-edge brands and agencies view crowdsourcing as a way to enhance traditional ad campaigns, rather than as a threat.

Disapproval for crowdsourcing often stems from a misunderstanding of its purpose and potential for added value. Crowdsourcing is so much more than simply “a cheaper way to create ads.” If managed properly, a crowdsourcing campaign can generate a powerful combination of content, awareness and engagement that’s so eagerly embraced by marketers in the digital age.

It’s worth stating that nothing can replace a well-researched and well-executed creative campaign. The level of creativity that top-tier marketing teams and agencies generate simply cannot be commoditized. Any attempt to substitute crowd creativity for the imaginations of creative visionaries is destined to be inadequate.

However, when incorporated into traditional ad campaigns, the “crowd” contributes a powerful asset. With a bit of imagination and a willingness to open the creative process, brands can motivate groups to build groundswell among a brand’s fans, extending the value of traditional ads. In today’s interactive media landscape, outright dismissal of crowdsourcing is a missed opportunity to amplify the reach and engagement of a great creative concept.

Below are two examples of how a brand and an agency have incorporated elements of crowdsourcing to take their campaigns to the next level:

Siemens gains a global perspective. In February of 2011, Siemens launched their new online storytelling format, /answers, that featured content produced together with world-renowned documentary filmmakers and journalists. Seeking to complement this work with an unfiltered community perspective, the corporate communications team launched a crowdsourcing campaign that invited people from around the globe to submit documentary videos that told personal stories of how technology can make their own cities more sustainable. The response was positive and astounding, with 118 well-crafted documentary videos from 26 countries on six continents sharing insights on topics like urban infrastructure and intelligent buildings. The results of the campaign provided meaningful video content from some of the world’s major cities and great material to use in their communications around sustainable urban development.

Buick collects authentic stories. In partnership with the NCAA, Buick and their agency, Leo Burnett, launched the “Human Highlight Reel” during March Madness. The campaign featured a series of professionally produced films that spotlight former NCAA student-athletes doing good works, with select stories running on TV and online. Seeking to extend this celebration of student-athlete achievement, Buick asked fans to share stories of former athletes in their own communities online. Zooppa’s online community contributed stories of male and female student-athletes from more than 30 colleges and universities who participated in 12 NCAA sports. By inviting anyone to share their own stories of community leaders, the campaign not only utilized crowdsourcing for video production, but also to take advantage of network effects to locate the student-athlete subjects. In the end, the project enabled Buick to add depth and authenticity to their celebration of student-athlete achievements and the principles upon which the NCAA was built.

Siemens and Buick provide just two examples of how advertisers can leverage stories from the crowd to compliment more conventional advertising efforts. If managed properly, these campaigns can empower brand fans to own a piece of the creative process and provide more touch points for consumers to interact with a brand. Now more than ever, marketers are building brands from the ground up and aligning themselves with values that resonate with consumers first and the C-Suite second. There’s no better place to start this groundswell than with the crowd.


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