Myths about the Future of Crowdsourcing
By Neil Perry January 12, 2011
ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS: With the average cost of a 30 second TV commercial at $350,000, using smart and customized crowdsourced videos is an inexpensive alternative You can obtain some pretty useful and even groundbreaking videos through crowdsourced networks of videographers. Through crowdsourcing, more than 150 videos were produced for FedEx to choose from for a campaign
Crowdsourcing video is a concept that's been talked about for some time, but only recently has it developed serious traction in terms of major brands using it for media content creation and marketing. There are several emerging truths, and even a few myths surrounding the role of crowdsourcing, so I thought it'd be useful to share some perspectives from the front lines of what several brands are doing. Myth #1: Crowdsourcing is going to displace or replace the role of agencies False. Many of the largest brands, from Procter & Gamble to Anheuser-Busch InBev, have been experimenting with crowdsourced video creation over the past 12-18 months, primarily in commercial form. These brands have uncovered an interesting fact -- you can obtain some pretty useful and even groundbreaking videos through crowdsourced networks of videographers.
However, none of these brands is moving forward with replacing its lead national agency with these growing crowdsourced video providers. That's just not going to happen. But what is happening is that these brands are seeing crowdsourced video creation as an alternative or complementary approach for the many new and previously unfunded video opportunities for brands. Opportunities include videos for website use, mobile, and social marketing sites like Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube. For example, FedEx worked directly with their agency, Robinson & Maites, to target small to medium business customers with a unique approach that was only possible through crowdsourcing. Recognizing the power of sight sound and motion from video advertising, Robinson and Maites delivered a total of nine creative commercials developed through crowdsourcing to FedEx, which then emailed the commercials on a monthly schedule to owners of small businesses. Each email included one of the video commercials. The embedded link also took consumers to their YouTube page where they could view any of the other fun spots that had been created. It would have been incredibly expensive, as well as just plain difficult for the national ad agency to come up with nine impactful videos in 45 days, but it was simple through crowdsourcing, where more than 150 videos were produced for the client to choose from for this campaign. Alan Maites, President/CEO of Robinson & Maites stated, "The use of crowdsourcing to create video content was an entirely new experience for us, and for FedEx. We found the quality and quantity of videos we received to be surprisingly good, especially within a 45-day window. Utilizing these videos in
FedEx's email marketing campaigns was very efficient and provided an additional reason for the target audience to open, read, and watch the message we're delivering." Myth #2: Crowdsourcing saves money
True. Marketers have recognized the benefits of having video everywhere, thanks in part to the improved indexing by search sites of video content versus traditional language content. The realities of the corporate world these past two years are that budgets are tight, and engaging the lead national agencies to produce secondary video needs is financially irresponsible. With the average cost of a :30 second TV commercial at $350,000, producing a custom piece of video to reach 10,000 Facebook fans makes no sense at all for a brand marketer. However, getting that relevant, custom, and appropriate video for one-tenth of the cost can be considered a more reasonable budget expense, and a better use of resources. Myth: #3 Crowdsourcing is fringe and really hasn't taken hold with established videos to round out their marketing plans. Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. used crowdsourcing to track the progress of five adults following the Atkins Diet over the course of 12 weeks. The campaign, "12 Weeks to the Healthier You," represented an entirely new approach to crowdsourcing by essentially creating a real-world how-to guide for the Atkins diet. The videos showcased participants incorporating the diet into brands False. Let's take a look at how some brands are now using crowdsourced
their everyday lifestyles, creating recipes and meal plans, and even engaging in other healthy activities, such as exercise. According to Allen Silkin, director of online marketing for Atkins, crowdsourcing succeeded in building positive consumer interactions and feedback around the campaign, the participants, and the brand.
"We narrowed a long list of applicants from the crowd down to five finalists, who were selected to follow the Atkins diet themselves for 12 weeks and chronicle their experiences in a video journal consisting of 12 videos uploaded once per week," explained Silkin. "Each participant was provided with an Atkins Diet book, guidelines, sample products, and access to the website and an Atkins' nutritionist. By the end of the 12 weeks, the five participants lost a total of 139 pounds, an average of 27 pounds per person, and gained a strong following on YouTube." A final example is not from a giant brand, but from a small and growing brand called Moe's Southwest Grill. This Mexican restaurant outlet used crowdsourced videos to bring their YouTube and website pages to life. The cost of producing video units for growing brands is often times cost prohibitive, but crowdsourced videos can provide the solution. "Moe's is a growing and nimble brand and we wanted a means to add video elements to our marketing mix that otherwise might be too cumbersome or expensive," said Brett Campbell, director of marketing for Moe's Southwest Grill. "It was surprisingly quick and easy to build in the crowdsourcing
elements and we were pleased with the amount and the quality of the video submissions received." As crowdsourcing continues to gain traction with major brands, as well as emerging brands, and even with some agencies, one thing is certain -- it will be interesting to monitor how its role in content creation and marketing evolves. Neil Perry is president of Poptent.