Is Crowdsourcing a Threat to Ad Agencies?

Brent Hodgins of Mirren recently interviewed John Winsor of Victors and Spoils, which calls itself the “The world’s first creative (ad) agency built on crowdsourcing principles.” John is a serial entrepreneur: Victor and Spoils is the fourth company he’s started and the eighth he’s invested in. He most recently worked in a very senior position at Crispin Porter & Bogusky in Denver.

What is Crowdsourcing? John defines it as:

The act of taking tasks traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and giving them to a group of people or community, through an “open call” asking for contributions. Hence, provide all of the services that a traditional agency does, from brand strategy to creating TV spots and branded digital tools.

How is it used? Does it work?

John cites two examples of crowdsourcing advertising from this year’s Superbowl:

  • “Doritos and Career Builder both outsourced their ads from a crowd of consumers”, cutting agencies out of the process.
  • Google in-sourced their ad from their employees.
  • The Doritos and Google ads were rated among the highest.

Victors and Spoils is applying crowdsouring to the way they work:

We feel like an ad agency. But we work like a crowdsourcing platform. At the core of our agency is our creative department. A creative department made of everyone from art directors and copywriters to strategists and producers who come together to solve strategic problems. A global digital community that will not only be rewarded for the solutions they develop (both individually and as a group) but also for participating in the community itself.

Why create an agency like this, and why now? In John’s words:

  • The business of marketing and advertising is in the midst of a massive cultural shift.
  • While crowdsourcing is certainly the buzzword of the moment, there’s actually a much bigger and deeper change going on with the way work gets done that is changing not only marketing but many other industries.

He continues…To me, there are three disruptive forces [at work]:

  1. The expectation of transparency;
  2. The further digitization of the workforce; and,
  3. The rise of the curator class.

John believes that:

Companies need an alternative to both current ad agencies as well as current crowdsourcing platforms. One that offers the strategic direction, engagement and relationship management that agencies deliver today, but one that also delivers the engagement, cultural relevance, results, and return on investment that crowdsourcing (if managed and directed well) can deliver.

John will be providing his insights on Crowdsourcing at the Mirren New Business Conference 2010. I’ve attended the conference since its inception and recommend it. If you plan to go and haven’t registered yet, you’ll receive a discount if you use this code: LIST2010. [Neither I nor The List have any financial interest in the conference.]

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