Crowdsourcery Potions 101: Recap

jmakkarAbout this Guest Blogger: Johnny Makkar is a digital marketer who blogs at Attention Digital. You can also find Johnny on Twitter @jsmakr.

Crowdsourcing was definitely a hot topic in 2009. It will only continue to become more relevant this year as we witness more brands and their agencies wanting to further experiment or push innovation on future projects.

The Crowdsourcery Potions 101 event started and ended by focusing on the different view points related to crowdsourcing and what the term meant to each panelist (more on that below). As the discussion went on, it became clear who was more excited about the future possibilities of crowdsourcing and who was cautious about it’s role in the future of advertising.

Michael Lebowitz (Founder and CEO of Big Spaceship) voiced many concerns on crowdsourcing creativity. He mentions “once you turn something into a commodity, it’s no longer creative”, stating that people should always be compensated for their experience and work. Something as simple as a logo contest taps into a lot of talent but the result is typically only one participant getting compensated for their time. Michael also emphasized how powerful culture can be and how it can easily be lost in a more distributed world…”you can’t curate culture in.

Ty Montague (Co-President and Chief Creative Officer, JWT North America) believes we are only getting started when it comes to the possibilities of crowdsourcing and is paying close attention to the different experiments that are happening in the industry. He thinks some brands will harness the power or crowdsourcing better than others to build stronger reputations and solve their business problems.

He also brought up the Andy Awards a couple times which for the first time chose to crowdsource the jury election process using This voting “experiment” was considered to be a success after it attracted more than 37,000 votes according to Adweek, but he did note that it wasn’t perfect and there are still many ways to improve the process for the coming years.

Is crowdsourcing the best name to use going forward? Faris Yakob (Chief Technology Strategist, McCann Erickson New York) points out it doesn’t matter what we call it, because “having access to more people who can do things is a good thing.”

John Winsor (CEO at Victors & Spoils) doesn’t like the term crowdsourcing because some people may associate it with broader outsourcing and cheaper labor. “Crowdsourcing (putting out to the masses) is one thing, the idea of creation is a super important part of it.” He emphasizes the goal at Victors & Spoils is to create a global talent pool that can work on client projects who recognize having an agency of record is no longer the only solution.

Late in the discussion, several examples were brought up that rely on many variations of crowdsourcing including YouTube, Wikipedia, and a new car company called Local Motors.

Browse Twitter search using #smwcrowd and #smwnyc + crowdsourcing for more and enjoy the event video in its entirety below if you couldn’t attend or watch live.

I was only disappointed when the panel was asked to define crowdsourcing toward the end that nobody responded with “let’s ask Twitter!”

Other Key Quotes

(most under 140 characters, apologize for any differences in advance):

“All crowdsourcing is still self selected, everyone has the right to not participate.” — John Winsor

“The world is going to get a lot more diverse.” — John Winsor
“Clients problems and great creative minds are going to aggregate around solving problems no matter what type of environment they work in.” — John Winsor

“People and money are going to aggregate around the best ideas.” — John Winsor

“Engagement is the product” — Faris Yakob

“The trick is to get people together and give them something to do” (on branded online communities) — Faris Yakob

“Once you turn something into a commodity, it’s no longer creative.” — Michael Lebowitz

“Crowdsourcing is not very collaborative, but a great suggestion box on steroids.” — Saneel Radia

“Build “scaffolding” for people to contribute to a collaboration effort.” Saneel Radia which he admits he stole from @shaunabe

“I love the wisdom of crowds but I don’t like the output of crowds very much.” — Michael Lebowitz

Research done with 1 million Facebook fans is marketing.” — Faris Yakob

“Co-creation is a phase that very unexplored by most companies.” — Saneel Radia

“If you build systems to encourage people to come and collaborate, rather than compete, you’ll get more wisdom from your crowd.” — Saneel Radia via @denuology

“We’re on the verge of a remaking of business and what a company is” — Ty Montague

For further reading and discussion on crowdsourcing and general thought leadership on the future of the marketing/advertising industry, here is where you can find the panelists:

Connect with the panelists:
John Winsor: @JTWinsor | Blog | Victors & Spoils | Amazon
Ty Montague: @tmontague | JWT North America
Michael Lebowitz: @BigSpaceship | Posterous | Big Spaceship
Saneel Radia: @saneel | Denuo
Faris Yakob: @faris | Blog | McCann Erickson New York

Further reading:
A crowdsourcing ad agency: can it work? (Creativity Unbound)
Crowdsourcing a Discussion on Crowdsourcing (EyeCube)
Can Creativity Be Crowdsourced? (Ad Age)
Will work for all it’s worth – the launch of Agency Nil (BBH Labs)
The Actual Crowdsourcery Bit (Talent Imitates, Genius Steals)