The Fifth Model “Crowdsourcing” Hits Madison Avenue

The Rise of Crowdsourcing

In the era of seismic change now occurring on Madison Avenue, ad agencies are starting to strap on an extra seat belt.  There is a lot of talk about revamping traditional ad agency models, e.g., digital, hybrid, tradigital or simply, creation of the “new agency”.  Traditional agencies are pushed to their limits by the explosion of digital and social media marketing projects as clients demand greater expertise.  Agency compensation models fortified with high overhead are under pressure since it isn’t easy for a large agency to monetize the creation of a Twitter background page or Facebook fan page.  This leads us to the need for a compensation model that reflects activity-based pricing delivered more efficiently. For new ad agency start-ups, the answer may be what we call the “Fifth Model”.  This is another step in the long evolution of ad agencies adapting to changing market conditions for well over 100 years.

The “Fifth Model” Recognizes the Value of Social Media Marketing

Marketers can connect with customers using social media more efficiently vs. outbound marketing tactics.  For example, downloading a digital coupon for a free taco may not only cure one’s short term hunger but, for the marketer, it is a viable reward for loyal customers and drives traffic at a price far less than traditional ads. Even when the value of the free taco fades, a smart marketer now understands the importance of engaging customers.  Armed with a social media strategy, many brands now understand the drill: listen, engage, feedback, analysis = win.

What is Crowdsourcing?

Enter a relatively new concept that will make The Fifth Model a reality.  It is appropriate to use Wikipedia to define the term Crowdsourcing, since thousands of Wikipedia users created the tool which many say is accurate as any encyclopedia in existence.  Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a “crowd”), through an open call.” Jeff Howe, one of the first authors to employ the term, makes an important distinction, adding:  “ … it [crowdsourcing] gathers those who are most fit to perform tasks, solve complex problems and contribute with the most relevant and fresh ideas.” Make no mistake; this process is having a profound impact on ad agencies, marketers, and brand management.  There is a decided shift toward finding “those who are most fit” while working to achieve “quality” results,  A critical tool to help guide the crowd’s creative development is the creative brief. In a recent blog, “Innovation Gone Wild on Madison Avenue”, Blue Focus Marketing co-founder Cheryl Burgess (@ckburgess) said: “the creative brief is the engine that drives development of the creative product. Without a focused creative brief, creative efforts would be off-strategy.”


Perspectives on Crowdsourcing from Several Industry Executives

Epirot Ludvik Nekaj, Founder, Ludvik + Partners (U.S.)

“Crowdsourcing permits our agency to better understand the landscape of social media, new technologies/platforms, and how to quickly and effectively generate relevant content and fresh ideas to energize our clients’ brands.”

Philip Letts, CEO, the blur Group (U.K)

It’s important to realize that Crowdsourcing is a technique. Used correctly, it is a very valuable technique which can give a different perspective on many issues which will enrich an offering. But as a technique, it needs proper management and implementation and consideration as to how the results will be used.”

Simon Mainwaring, Author of We First, and Founder of We First, brand consulting firm (U.S.)

“Crowdsourcing works because consumers are sincerely interested in the creative advantages and potential of collaborating with the brands they admire.”

Peter H. LaMotte, President, GeniusRocket (U.S.)

“The first generation of crowdsourcing was focused too much on the size of the crowd. Platforms were more concerned about “whose is bigger” more than “whose is smarter.” This second generation of crowdsourcing is focusing on quality, the quality of the crowd and the quality of content they produce.”

John Andrews, Founder & CEO, Collective Bias (U.S.)

“Crowdsourcing is adding the voice of the consumer to the brand management process.”

The Fifth Model   –   An “Open Call” for Greater Efficiencies

The four primary compensation models in play today don’t mesh with client’ demands for increased digital and social media marketing projects:

1) Media Commission  2) Billable Hours 3) Flat Rate/Fixed Retainer 4) Performance-Based

Enter an emerging model:  The Fifth Model which permits marketers (and ad agencies) to gain access to qualified creative professionals around the world.  These pros are not part of agency overhead; do not require health benefits nor an office.  It is the availability of quality; creative talent pools that Blue Focus Marketing believes will fuel the growth of the Fifth Model – “Crowdsourcing”. So, to Madison Avenue, it is time to embrace the possibilities including far greater use of crowdsourcing to handle both existing clients and new business prospects.  For new agencies, it’s a brand new world where greater efficiencies can be built into the process upfront.  To marketers, this is a pretty exciting time to join the “open call” and realize not only efficiencies but exposure to a larger pool of fresh ideas.

A final thought … proof of our endorsement of the power of “quality” crowdsourcing, this week, Blue Focus Marketing announces that we are the first U.S.-based Affiliate for the blur Group’s Creative Services Exchange.  Join the crowd at Blue Focus Marketing.

Mark Burgess


Mark Burgess (@mnburgess)

Mark Burgess is Co-founder & Managing Partner at Blue Focus Marketing, a social brand consultancy and a top 30 marketing professor on Twitter, as published by SMM Magazine.  Mark is an ex-McCann-Erickson advertising executive who was responsible for managing the L’Oreal and Sears accounts.  Blue Focus Marketing is leading the charge to help educate businesses on the value of social media marketing by providing customized social media  workshops.

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