In a recent blog post titled Five Signs That Crowdsourcing Will Cross The Chasm in 2013, François Pétavy (CEO of eYeka) examined some current trends and explained why he thinks crowdsourcing will go mainstream in 2013. He argued that crowdsourcing now solves real business problems, that the ROI of crowdsourcing is easier to demonstrate, but also that embracement of crowdsourcing by brands has exploded in recent years.
If we take a step back, we can see that he’s right. Six partnerships between crowdsourcing companies and major corporations have been announced since December 2011, proving that big players start integrating crowdsourcing in their innovation, marketing and communication strategies. ADK, Booz Allen Hamilton, Edelman, Sony, Deloitte and Unilever have signed strategic partnerships with different crowdsourcing providers in the last months. Who said that crowdsourcing was a fad?
ADK partnered with eYeka in December 2011
The first major marketing group to strategically invest into crowdsourcing was ADK. In December 2011, the Japanese creative agency Asatsu-DK, or ADK, announced the formation of a strategic partnership with creative crowdsourcing specialist eYeka. Effective as of December 1st 2011, the partnership allowed ADK to tap into eYeka’s online community of 250,000 consumers to solve its clients creative challenges. Japan’s third largest advertising agency recognized that crowdsourcing creative ideas was an effective way to help its clients to innovate.
The duty of an agency is to embrace change before its clients do, so we have decided to take the lead with a new, open model where we integrate consumer ideas from start (Kenichiro Omori, head of global business division, ADK)
Since the announcement, the two companies having already initiated a number of projects across the World. One of them was the “Stand for Japan” project, winner of the 2012 Co-Creation Awards in the Not-For-profit Marketing & Communication category, where people from all over the World were invited to create imagery that showed what made Japan truly unique to them. The campaign generated over 300 submissions from 41 countries such as France and even China, with the best visuals shown at the ADK Shochiku Square and exhibited at Ad:tech Tokyo. The project is a good example of how crowdsourcing can bring fresh and creative ideas from a diverse group of consumers.
Booz Allen Hamilton partnered with Innocentive in December 2011
A few days after the above partnership was announced, crowdsourcing pionneer Innocentive announced a strategic alliance with the management and technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. This alliance provided Booz Allen Hamilton’s commercial and government clients an integrated open innovation solution, including a “Booz Allen Hamilton-InnoCentive Open Innovation Diagnostic Program” and, of course, the prize-based crowdsourcing challenges that Innocentive pioneered since 2001.
We find that agencies are serious about leveraging new tools and methods to find innovative solutions to problems (Allan Steinhardt, VP, Booz Allen Hamilton)
Edelman PR partnered with Poptent in August 2012
But crowdsourcing is not only used for innovation and marketing, it is also increasingly used in the video advertising space. One of the established actors in the field is Poptent, who announced a partnership with Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, in August 2012. The objective of the partnership, which was effective immediately, was that Edelman would use Poptent’s network of videographers to create relevant and authentic video content for Edelman’s clients, as the announcement explained.
We are experiencing strong global client demand for original online and offline video content, so the time is right for Edelman and Poptent to join forces (Caroline Dettman, Executive Creative Director, Edelman)
Crowdsourcing represents a cost-effective way to produce video content for the PR firm’s clients, to be used in social media campaigns, public service announcements and other integrated communication efforts, both online and offline. Neil Perry, president of Poptent, explained in an interview that the video crowdsourcing company already worked with PR companies besides Edelman, including Ogilvy PR, who crowdsourced videos for Intel.
Sony CEA partnered with Mofilm in April 2013
Another partnership in the video crowdsourcing space was recently announced by Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), who partnered with the UK-based crowdsourcing company Mofilm. Previously to the announcement, SCEA worked with Mofilm to produce content for the launch of “LittleBigPlanet Karting” in the USA, and for the “Live in a State of Play” campaign for the PlayStation brand.
As PlayStation moves into its next phase of growth, we look forward to continuing our work with Mofilm as our agency of record for crowdsourced advertising (Guy Longworth, SVP, PlayStation Brand Marketing, SCEA)
It is interesting that the words used in the announcement are that of the advertising world (“hiring […] advertising agency Mofilm“), which shows that Mofilm positions itself similarly to traditional advertising agencies, and definitely plays in that universe. If you go on Mofilm’s contest website, you will see that references to the advertising world are numerous, including annual brand contests for the Cannes Lions in Cannes.
Deloitte partnered with Kaggle in May 2013
Kaggle is a crowdsourcing platform that focuses on data analysis. Surfing on the wave of Big Data, the company has secured a partnership with Deloitte Australia, combining Kaggle’s nearly 100,000-strong data scientists with the analytics professionals from Deloitte Analytics’ network in order to expand its $2 billion global data analytics business. The partnership with Deloitte is Kaggle’s first global partnership.
We can now help clients apply data to yield even more effective and timely business insights [via] Deloitte Analytics’ wide-ranging in-house capabilities but also [by using] Kaggle (Anthony Viel, National Managing Partner, Deloitte Analytics)
As Business Review Weekly notes, the Kaggle-Deloitte partnership is non-exclusive (which is not the case of some of the above), so Kaggle can team up with other accounting and consulting firms in the future. But Kaggle says that this is not a problem a the start-up plans to team up with other Deloitte offices in the US and Britain within the next 12 months. “The next step will not be for us to work with competitors, but to see Deloitte take this globally,” Kaggle president and chief scientist Jeremy Howard says, “we see this as a major part of our business.”
Unilever partnered with eYeka in June 2013
The latest major announcement is Unilever’s partnership with eYeka, a crowdsourcing specialist already mentionned above for its partnership with ADK. The FMCG-giant has signed a contract that shows its intent to further tap into the open creativity and crowdsourcing platform that eYeka has nurtured over the last few years. The appointment is official as of June 7th, and covers markets across Asia Pacific, Middle East, Russia and South Africa.
We have worked with the eYeka community for two years on a number of projects and now extend that relationship further and deeper (Rahul Welde, VP Media for Asia, Africa, Middle East, Turkey and Russia, Unilever)
The eYeka community has already worked with a number of Unilever brands such as Clear, Close Up, Comfort, Cornetto, Lifebuoy, Lipton, Lux, Pond’s, and even the Unilever brand itself. From now on, eYeka’s online community can be expected to work across more of Unilever’s brands on innovation, marketing and communication-related contests.
These partnerships are strong signs that crowdsourcing is a viable business solution for a variety of organizations. The above examples indicate that agencies (ADK, Edelman), consultancies (Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte) and brand organizations (Sony, Unilever) alike embrace crowdsourcing! In some cases, organizations are looking for the crowd’s brainpower to solve technical problems (Innocentive, Kaggle), and in some cases it’s more about creative idea generation (eYeka) or video content production (eYeka, Poptent, Mofilm).
“Now that crowdsourcing is crossing the chasm, it may soon turn out that not leveraging it will become a competitive disadvantage,” said François Pétavy in Five Signs That Crowdsourcing Will Cross The Chasm in 2013. All the partnerships described above are strong signals that confirms that crowdsourcing is being recognized as a business accelerator. “We have long advocated turning to consumers for ideas and content with consumers as a source of competitive advantage,” says François Pétavy about his company’s partnership with Unilever, “so we are thrilled to partner with Unilever to bring this approach to a new scale.” There will certainly be more partnerships announced in the future. And crowdsourcing will continue making inroads into mainstream business practice.
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Yannig Roth graduated in marketing and is currently Research Fellow at eYeka and PhD student at University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne in Paris (France). His main research interests are creative crowdsourcing and community co-creation. Yannig regularly blogs at http://yannigroth.wordpress.com