Crowdsourced Video Advertising and Innovation: A Snapshot


ADOTAS – As reported here on ADOTAS and elsewhere, interest in crowdsourced video advertising has skyrocketed during recent months, driven by strong demand from major brands and agencies alike for varied forms of online video content. This content can be in the form of 15- and 30-second pre-roll commercials, as well as elements like lifestyle videos for placement on company websites and microsites. What’s interesting is that this heightened demand has led directly to some particularly innovative approaches by brands to get the most out of their crowdsourcing experiences.

Top marketers like Dell, American Express, Anheuser Busch, Pizza Hut and others have been executing crowdsourced video productions through companies like Poptent (my company – full disclosure), as well as others in the space. But at a recent series of marketer meetings, it has been interesting to hear about and discuss some fascinating developments that are starting to occur in the crowdsource production environment.

For purposes of this article, crowdsourcing is a process in which a marketer or an agency takes a traditional in-house activity, in this case video production, and then outsources it to a crowd of unaffiliated creators (a community) to have them produce videos for evaluation. At the conclusion of the assignment, the brand evaluates the submissions and selects only these videos that they deem appropriate to their messaging and overall strategy.

Now, let’s talk about some innovation in the space:

Driven by demand from brands, some crowdsourcing companies are evolving their product offerings to include private or “invite” assignments in which only designated members of a much larger crowdsourcing community are invited to develop concepts for a client. While marketers are still getting all the advantages of crowdsourcing (speed-to-market, high-quality videos and, many options from which to choose), they are managing these assignments in a private environment, precluding competitor or broader public awareness of their future plans.

These private invite assignments are particularly appropriate when dealing with new product launches or an all-new service that might not quite ready “for prime time.” In these instances, only a small number of creators are “invited” to participate in what is a private assignment for a brand. Crowdsourcing companies identify, in advance, the appropriate creators for a particular creative brief, and then somewhere between 15-20 creators ultimately get a chance to participate in the assignment. While fewer videos are available for review by the brand than via “traditional” crowdsourcing, the security of a private assignment is particularly inviting.

A second new development is a smart creative approach first developed by Dell. The compute rcompany wanted to develop a series of lifestyle commercials showcasing how people actually use their Dell laptops in unique and often very different ways. But with the high cost of laptops, Dell was not interested in shipping out dozens of brand new laptops for use in the development of crowdsourced videos.

Instead, Dell devised a solution that was both simple and effective: They asked the creative community to initially develop videos using any old laptop they might have around the house. The company then reviewed the submitted videos and identified the ones they felt were the most appropriate. Dell then shipped new laptops only to the chosen creators, and asked that they reshoot the scenes using their new Latitude laptops.

This resulted in high-quality videos showing the brand new product, produced in a private environment, and ready for placement on their site and on YouTube’s designated Dell page. As more Fortune 100 and 500 brands — as well as their agencies –embrace crowdsourced video production, we can certainly expect to see more innovation and change in this fascinating new area of creative development. I’ll report back here periodically on the latest from the front lines.


  1. Did the people who received the laptops from Dell have to reshoot the spots at their own expense? In other words, did they have to shoulder the cost of production twice with still just the chance they would “win” and recoup their costs?


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