Crowdsourcing – What’s It All About?

There are many different crowdsourcing ventures around, but video is perhaps one of the most interesting. When CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed Facebook would be making a ‘sustained push into video, particularly with short-form content’, the world sat up and took notice.

Video, it seems, is king. Think of the YouTube megastars who have emerged in the past few years – teenagers goofing around in front of the camera but with regular audiences of 10milllion – that’s pretty much Coronation Street and Emmerdale’s evening audience combined – and it’s not hard to understand why everyone wants a piece of the action.

Brands haven’t been slow on the uptake and now, more than ever, are crowdsourcing interpretations of their creative briefs to produce original content that is then shared with their audience via social media channels. It’s cheap, innovative and effective.

But crowdsourcing as we know it is not a new phenomenon. In fact, far from it. For its early origins, we must go way, way back. Tracing back man’s earliest steps on the planet, you can find the crowdsourcing of its day daubed on cave walls.

Primitive messages meant to share an experience, thought, or viewpoint to others via the simplest of drawings. They were individual interpretations meant for one and all and were authentic statements of self-expression and creativity. It might sound a bit far-fetched, but think about it.

Pure and unsullied by anything other a desire to share a message, dream or view, this was the very beginning of communication and the start of a long journey over time towards the technology of today. Cavemen used charcoal, vegetable dyes, or whatever worked to display their images which developed from the most primitive of designs such as handprint outlines to more advanced drawings of animals, hunters and symbols which many believe were the first form of visual communication.

Through the years, getting messages across gradually became a little more sophisticated.

Over time, the ‘creatives’ have been given different names – high priests, Renaissance geniuses, film directors, agency creatives – the links may seem tenuous, but the truth is, they all did a similar job – each leaving their mark as they went along in one way or another.

That talent will always find a way, and in today’s tech savvy world, the opportunities for enthusiastic amateurs is greater than ever – as are the opportunities for businesses and brands. Technology means it is possible for everyone to express themselves with a level playing field for all.

The opportunity to create a magical video from a minuscule budget has never been greater. Curated video has become a crucial addition to the marketing plans of some of the world’s biggest brands.

Crowdsourcing platforms with global communities of filmmakers worldwide, offer rewards for the best videos on a given brand brief, typically awarding cash or other brand relevant incentives. One of the most recent examples of this was the WWF’s Earth Hour 2017 initiative.

Celebrating Earth Hour’s 10th anniversary, WWF asked the global video crowd to produce engaging, emotional films about why people should act to #changeclimatechange. It proved the perfect marriage, doubling organic reach and becoming a powerful vehicle for consumers, activists and environmentalists to get their messages heard by a worldwide audience.

It was a key part of the activation strategy that made Earth Hour 2017 the most successful yet.

More than 40 videos were submitted from places as far apart as Namibia and Siberia, all with their own unique message. And many were as good as any marketing agency would have produced – though at a fraction of the price.

The results delighted WWF, with Sid Das of WWF stating: “This was a fascinating venture for us. We’d never crowdsourced a campaign before and were delighted with what the filmmakers came up with. The last thing we wanted was a corporate, polished message. We wanted energy, raw talent and passion and that’s what the community provided.”

Nespresso have a reputation for being innovative, embracing new ways of promoting their brand subtly. They also tapped into this thirst to find shareable content that had the capability to quickly go viral.

An official partner of the Cannes Film Festival for the past nine years, Nespresso were constantly on the lookout for a way to combine film, innovation and new ways of enhancing their reputation for doing things differently. Their Cannes award – the Grand Prix Nespresso – has become a coveted prize at the festival, awarded to the director of the best debut film.

They hatched a strategy to use film to build an innovative platform for filmmakers around the world – but not expensive marketing agencies – just ordinary people with imagination and the ability to create something fresh from a simple brief. Like WWF, Nespresso turned to the global video crowd to achieve this.

For Nespresso, this is another channel to convey messaging while building brand equity in a unique way, focusing on worldwide talent and the brand’s younger audience in the process. It goes without saying younger audiences are watching more mobile content than ever before, and, interestingly, they are doing it vertically.

For so long, the landscape video has been the social media tool of choice, particularly for Twitter and Facebook while vertical video was considered the work of uneducated amateurs. Yet the landscape shifted and Nespresso were on it, sniffing an opportunity to challenge short filmmakers the world over – to tell their ‘tall stories’ in an innovative and surprising way – and so a vertical video contest was launched.

Nespresso Talents was launched at the Berlinale Film Festival, amplified online with an exclusive content partner with the promise that the three winners’ efforts would be showcased at Cannes later in the year.

After the deadline closed, Nespresso were pleasantly surprised to find that there had been 384 submissions from 38 different countries – they knew before they even viewed the entries that the contest had been a success and the varied backgrounds and ideas behind the competitors made it a tough call to judge just three winners.

With 85 million impressions, 1,700 mentions and 99.7% positive sentiment towards the campaign, it was no surprise that the press and bloggers fell for vertical format and at Cannes, attracting huge attention and giving the three winners a truly global showcase of their talents.

The brand – in this case Nespresso – further enhanced their credentials in film, building on innovation and engaging a wider audience beyond physical platforms. They also validated the emergence of vertical video as a credible medium, completely changing the snobbish attitude that had been prevalent for so long. The vertical films even won the gold medal for mobile content in France’s Online Video Awards.

The upshot is, crowdsourcing is here to stay, and is perhaps, the future medium for brands to get their message across. It’s organic, innovative and surprising. The truth is, you never know what you are going to get and isn’t that half the fun?