Brand Marketing Services

Digital Trends | Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is an emerging trend that is now starting to impact the traditional system of television and movie production with the increased collaborative involvement of individuals and less interference from big corporate studios and distributors. Technology is helping edge out the middle man and deliver content straight from the creators to the viewers. The power of information and connectivity enabled by the network effect of the Internet has stripped away low-value-adding middlemen. Similar to other industries, we expect that this trend will continue and give rise to new and better business models, leaving the traditional studios wondering what happened. Here are some things we’ve noticed that contribute to the crowdsourcing trend as it relates to content production:

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Movies funded through Kickstarter – After witnessing the resounding success of the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter, which met its $2MM goal in less than 11 hours, Zack Braff has decided to take the same route in order to have complete creative control over his Garden State follow-up film. While this is a new and different way of making movies, don’t expect it to stop as cult classics and fan favorites rally their support in order to get projects funded.

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Amazon Original Pilots – It’s a focus group on steroids. Using the same star-rating system that has worked so well for the e-tailing supergiant, Amazon is now letting viewers decide which shows get made based on their reviews of a variety of pilot episodes. 6 kid shows and 8 comedy pilots were released, already amassing thousands of reviews and ratings.

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Life In a Day – In 2010, YouTube issued a call for videos to be recorded on July 24, for a cinematic experiment that documented one full day on the planet Earth. This wasn’t just a stream of random footage—the project was presented by National Geographic and produced by Ridley Scott. In this case, people like you and me provided the content. This too is not obscure in our digital world: Remember the TV show based on a Twitter account? Or the movie being made from a comment left on Reddit?

All of these examples gather the money, opinions, and content of the masses in order to produce things that would otherwise not be possible. The main idea here is that when the effort and attention of a large group of people assemble for a common purpose, interesting things can come about that often turn standard systems and processes on their heads. For marketers, giving more power to the people is a strategy that should not be ignored. This isn’t a new idea—“the customer is always right,” after all—but now it is becoming increasingly formalized and having a huge impact on brands.

This isn’t about handing over the reigns of your brand to the customer or a group of Internet trolls, but rather giving them the opportunity to participate directly in the formation of the product, brand, or communication effort. For example, the Lay’s Do Us A Flavor campaign has baked research and development into their marketing process by crowdsourcing new chip flavors. This not only changes the traditional process of R&D by eliminating ineffective focus groups or expensive test marketing, but it involves the consumer in a way that guarantees a vested interest in the product, as well as providing them with a brand experience that will stick with them long after they’ve thrown away their bag of chips at lunch – and much longer than that 30 second spot. This translates to genuine brand loyalty—something that’s so hard to find in the age of the Facebook Like. R&D isn’t the only way for brands to welcome in help from their fans and customers.

Brands can hop on the bandwagon by underwriting support and lending out their voice in exchange for consumer-created content. The key is to allow freedom to operate within the boundaries of the brand’s ideals without letting people run wild. Brands that involve their consumers in this way get much greater payback in terms of insights and brand impact. At Beeby Clark+Meyler, we are interested in what you think about crowdsourcing as a marketing tool.

What are the implications of a more empowered consumer? How does this type of collaboration affect projects & campaigns, whether they are movies, TV shows, or marketing efforts? What new models can you see emerging as a result? What old models do you see disappearing? Let us know your thoughts. We will be listening.

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