I have a soft spot for the advertising and marketing industry. In my previous post I talked about how technology is disrupting the media buying and selling space, where digital media buying is becoming more automated and effective technology is becoming both a differentiator and is becoming a barrier to entry to competitors in the space. In this post I would like to focus on the creative aspect of the advertising process, where some companies have emerged trying to disrupt it through crowdsourcing.
First, let’s try to understand better what the creative process is really about. When a brand is trying to increase sales of its product, it would usually contact both a media agency and a creative agency. The media agency is the one in charge of helping the brand understand what media channels it should market on in order to reach their target: TV, radio, print, digital – and also in what capacity in respect of these mediums. The creative agency on the other hand is tasked with coming up with a message that breaks through the noise created by other messages other brands are trying to deliver too. There are many theories on how to develop this message, from David Ogilvy’s ‘Big Idea’ to Rosser Reeves ‘Unique Selling Proposition’. Creativity though is not a science and all the theories that have been developed have their strengths and pitfalls, but none of them is universal.
Going back to the brand’s relationships with the media and creative agency, the two have two different levels of stickiness. A media agency becomes deeply integrated with a brand’s systems, especially now more than ever with the rise of digital marketing: the brand usually shares data with the media agency which uses it to derive insights. The relationship with the creative agency is less stable: their main differentiation against a competitor is knowing the brand better, but that is usually not a high enough barrier to entry to avoid regular account reviews, where the cost of the service is a main driver in the decision making.
A French company called eYeka has seen an opportunity in this space, where the current state of technology is allowing media agencies to become more embedded but has not benefitted the creative ones. They have developed a new type of creative agency: one that can contain costs because it doesn’t really have many employees but can still develop quality creative work. eYeka offers through its platform ‘co-creation’: brands that need creative work can post on their site a request and creatives will submit their best work in order to win the compensation connected to that request. eYeka raised nearly €10m between 2006 and 2010 and features blue chip clients on its website, from Coca Cola to P&G. My understanding though is that they have not been as successful with their value proposition as the other companies we have seen in DIGIT class.
It’s hard to crowdsource creativity.. at least when it comes to quality creativity. Creativity, especially good creativity, is incredibly subjective. An algorithm cannot judge whether an idea is good or bad because a good idea is usually something that has a differentiating point to what had been done before. This is why eYeka employs staff that sorts through the ideas that have been submitted in order to deliver to brands the best ideas. Unfortunately, this has the pitfall of being expensive and to limit the scalability of the platform.