What does Crowdsourcing mean for traditional creative agencies?
Although Crowdsourcing is not new to the creative industry, it is rapidly becoming popular with busy marketing managers. Brands are experimenting by looking further afield than their traditional agency to source ideas for new creative projects. Is this a threat to the creative agency? In this article I shall explore different types of Crowdsourcing and the impact it could have on traditional agencies, looking into what the future holds for both parties. Crowdsourcing for finished work This type of Crowdsourcing allows clients to post their creative brief online, for example logo design, web design or writing services on sites such as 99designs and CrowdSPRING and wait for a surge of ideas to be posted. They can then commission the work from the candidate. Brands such as Starbucks and LG are amongst many that have trusted CrowdSPRING and have been satisfied with the results.
Crowdsourcing for concepts and ideas
Sites such as Idea Bounty allow clients to post a brief asking for ideas which they will then use to execute themselves. This approach can produce a vast amount of ideas, and promises a fast turnaround.
Amongst many famous brands, Unilever was one to brave the move from using traditional agency Lowe, whom they’d worked with for 15 years, to seek a new print ad from the creative community for their product, Peperami. This did seem to pay off; Unilever gaining significant exposure for the brand, and global insight. Although there seems to be an abundance of positivity from both the clients and creatives who have become part of this community, there doesn’t seem to be much consideration for where traditional agencies stand amongst all this.
New ‘Creative Exchange’ Blur Group claim not to be a freelancing platform but instead a creative services exchange that are based on optimal value, choice and creativity for corporate brands. Their strapline states that their ‘unique business model and advanced technology will radically alter the marketing services space’ – I do feel that they have been slightly ambitious with their plans to ‘disrupt the traditional agency model’ through cutting out the needless costs of a traditional agency with their ‘no frills’ approach.
The need for creative agencies won’t be diminished just because Blur Group offer clients a service where creative ideas can be exchanged in an environment that provides choice and value – I think they are very naive to even think this. The internet has an overwhelming power that allows everyone to have a voice and an opinion, which sometimes can be a dangerous thing. The risk of creating an online environment for creative individuals to share their ideas with others is that it is potentially de-valuing the creative process as a whole.
The accessible nature of creative ideas enables others to steal their ideas. Furthermore, the lack of quality control amongst the Crowdsourcing community enables anyone, anywhere to upload their ideas with seemingly no restrictions or requirements to be met. Coming from a traditional agency I would argue that although there are benefits to using Crowdsourcing for a fast turnaround and to pool creative ideas, the lack of personal communication and brand understanding is vitally absent. Deep understanding of a client’s brand values is something that allows creative professionals to develop an appropriate strategy that encapsulates the client’s brief. Without this I fail to see how Crowdsourcing creative’s can provide the strategic, long-term value clients respect.
As the growth of Crowdsourcing rises so is the resistance from traditional agencies. In their own right agencies are opposing the new shift towards Crowdsourcing as they risk losing existing accounts with clients, and, in turn, money. Some would argue that sourcing ideas through Crowdsourcing loses vital components of the brand communication process that links the strategy with the brand identity.
Perhaps traditional agencies shouldn’t see Crowdsourcing as a threat but instead a warning that they cannot become complacent in this industry. If used correctly, Crowdsourcing could be advantageous to agencies through providing a collective range of ideas for an existing client brief, almost like a visual focus group. The agency would act as quality control, selecting appropriate ideas that can be adapted further to meet the requirements of a client’s brief and brand personality. If both the agencies and their clients begin to consider using Crowdsourcing models they could add huge value to their business. For short term projects Crowdsourcing does provide a global community of creative talent but without the high level of brand insight and understanding I don’t think it provides enough to dominate the place of traditional agencies in the creative industry.
Agencies look further, conducting a deep analysis of the brief and questioning elements within it. It is easy for clients to become submersed in their own company, often developing a company orientated brief. This is where agencies provide an invaluable insight into a clients business, adding a new perspective that addresses different areas and has much more focus on the consumer and their needs. To put it simply… Crowdsourcing = quick fix Traditional agency = long term strategy and value