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How crowdsourcing is helping brands with content strategies

19 Jan 2015  |  Darren Khan 
How crowdsourcing is helping brands with content strategies

Darren Khan, managing director of Genero, reflects on how crowdsourcing has disrupted markets whilst being a key driver for digital evolution in a content-rich world.

Crowdsourcing has been a disruptive force across myriad industries for almost a decade now. Back in 2006, Getty Images purchased iStockphoto for $50 million after it had created an online market-place for the work of around 22,000 amateur photographers and was able to charge between $1 and $5 per image as a result.

At the time, Getty's chief executive, Jonathan Klein, justified the acquisition by saying: "If someone's going to cannibalise your business, better it be one of your other businesses."

For me, this was the moment it all changed. Technological advances in everything from product design software to digital video cameras had finally broken down the barriers that had once separated amateurs from professionals. Across disparate industry sectors, companies were discovering new ways to tap the latent talent of the crowd.

For content to be shared effectively, it needs to be produced in different formats."

This wasn't the outsourcing culture, favoured by the telecommunications and financial sectors during the ten years that had gone before. This was the beginning of the crowdsourcing culture, which has since grown to be a vital component for a content rich, budget poor world with an insatiable appetite for sharing.

Fast forward to the present day and YouTube, the online platform that successfully disrupted the mainstream business of television with crowdsourced shareable content, is now having its dominance challenged by a social platform that already has 1.35 billion monthly active users.

Desktop video views on Facebook grew 38.5% year on year to 491 million in September 2014, according to comScore. Views across YouTube only rose 4.8% to 831 million. Meanwhile, unique viewers for YouTube fell by 9% to 150 million whilst Facebook recorded a 45% year-on-year rise.

Over Christmas, Facebook also dominated YouTube in terms of social media shares for the John Lewis Monty The Penguin advert. Within the first 24-hours of its launch, Facebook recorded 76.9% of shares compared with YouTube's 23.1%.

The amount of shares of content is the most important metric for marketers because it's a sign of endorsement, rather than just a sign that someone may have passively watched something without really paying attention.

For content to be shared effectively, it needs to be produced in different formats. The 'one-size fits all' strategy no longer works and a TV advert can't simply be repurposed for YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

This truly is a content revolution."

Crowdsourcing enables brands to add layers to their content strategies, without the need for expensive shoots and edits. In October last year for example, the Breast Cancer Campaign 'wear it pink' successfully crowdsourced four different videos via Genero to run across cinema, digital, social media and out-of-home channels; whereas Visit Britain recently produced a 60-second ad for TV brimming with stories that desperately needed to be told in different formats and to different lengths.

They needed a 15-second version for Tumblr, a six-second version for Vine and a 30-second version for Facebook. Re-cutting the same creative just wouldn't have cut the mustard and trying to create separate pieces of content via the traditional ad agency/production company model was cost-prohibitive, so they decided to allow their ad to be re-interpreted by a global pool of talented film makers.

This truly is a content revolution and the true revolutionaries are those who use the power of the crowd to amplify, create and disseminate creative content across multiple channels in different formats.

Since the word 'crowdsourcing' was coined in 2005, it has been used to define a disruptive business model but it's one that's mirrored our need to expand the talent pool when searching for creative ideas or assets - and it's one that's driving digital evolution

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