Companies join crowd-sourcing party

By Siyabonga Africa, ITWeb junior journalist
Johannesburg, 29 May 2009

Dylan Ferguson has won the $4 000 (R31 909) Castle Lager crowd-sourcing project which was run on Quirk eMarketing's Web site, Idea Bounty.

Ferguson's idea, 'Castle Score', will be used by the beer maker to strengthen its sponsorship of SA's national soccer team. He beat out more than 2 900 participants to win the prize.

Wired magazine journalist Jeff Howe coined the term “crowd-sourcing”. It is described as the process of appealing to the general public in an open forum to reach a goal, as an alternative to delegating the task to an employee or outsourcing to a specific third-party.

A Quirk eMarketing statement says its crowd-sourcing Web site, Idea Bounty, allows companies to ask the world for creative, marketing ideas in exchange for a reward, or “bounty”.

'Creatives' are tasked by Idea Bounty to come up with ideas based on briefs submitted by Quirk eMarketing's clients. The participants register on the Web site and submit their ideas which are kept secret, and can only be seen and judged by the clients.

“The project certainly went off well when we gave our football sponsorship brief to the folk at Idea Bounty. Their platform has provided us with a plethora of great ideas and more than a little insight into how the world views our brand,” says Castle Lager executive brand manager Charl Bassil.

Castle Lager joins a number of other brands, including Levis Strauss and BMW, which have used Idea Bounty's crowd-sourcing platform as an additional means of finding marketing ideas. The “bounties” for the various briefs have ranged from $3 000 (R23 890) to $5 000 (R39 815).

“We have another three or four briefs which we will be putting up in the next couple of weeks,” says Idea Bounty first mate Daniel Neville.

Despite the growing number of briefs that are being handed over to Idea Bounty to crowd-source, Neville says this does not signal a move away from traditional means of generating ideas. In his view, advertising agencies and marketing firms still have a role to play in taking a raw idea from Idea Bounty and converting it into a viable marketing strategy.

“The end value of the idea is so strongly linked to the production of it, or how it comes to life in its end form, which is where ad agencies come in, that it's impossible to answer a question like, 'did the idea make that TV ad great, or was the director a genius in how he chose to film and edit it?'.”

Neville says the challenge in crowd-sourcing is that companies have to ensure the brief is delivered strongly to participants in order for them to come up with usable ideas.

He says crowd-sourcing is beneficial to companies, because they can pay the cost of the project upfront compared to traditional means, such as surveys and marketing consultants, which might see costs rising unexpectedly.

Crowd-sourcing also allows companies to speak to their consumers directly and get a better idea of how they view their brand.

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