Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why Outsource When You Can Crowdsource?

Two heads are better than one, right? If so, then crowdsourcing might be the ultimate solution. Crowdsourcing is utilizing the power of millions of humans' brainpower for one common goal. It is a concept that can be applied in many different ways, but it is increasingly being applied to marketing campaigns. It has proven to be a growing trend for businesses to access cheap labor while at the same time, involving consumers in a brand's message.

One of the most successful examples of crowdsourcing is iStockphoto.com. iStockphoto is an image database of amateur photography and graphic design that licenses the pieces for $1 or more. By using their images, small design firms increase their profit margin dramatically, (Howe, para. 7). Other examples of crowdsourcing include open source software such as the Linux operating system or the Wikipedia encyclopedia. It is a phenomenon that is growing in popularity and credibility.

What are some of the ways it has been applied to the marketing world? Mountain Dew decided to give the marketing & PR department a rest and started Dewmocracy – the journey to create the next Mountain Dew. Contestants uploaded their ideas of what the best type of event Mountain Dew should hold for its in-market launch of the Voltage. Ideas they got ranged from a Vegas launch to creating mythical Beverage Wars across the country.

One opportunist, Laurel Papworth, has taken it one step further by starting the world’s first crowdsourced ad agency, Twitter Agency. The Web Site states, “Any of the people contributing here are available for hire as Twitter experts.” It began as an experiment to win the $30 million Vodafone account up for grabs announced on October 1. Whether or not she succeeds in that goal, she likely has unearthed a great deal of marketing talent that can gain a lot of contract work.

What do you think - is crowdsourcing the way of the future or a cheap ploy by companies to take advantage of free ideas?

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