Collective Creativity VS Web Agency: what to choose?

The digital era, the digital revolution - whatever you call it, all this is a harsh reality for employees of the advertising business. The Internet brings together an increasing number of people around the world, erasing boundaries and creating new rules and standards of work. Digital present changes the usual approaches, creates new channels and opportunities, competently the use of which can be the key to future success. And the illiterate, respectively, on the contrary, and the network public will never miss the chance to point out an error.

Like the majority of current trends in the territory of the CIS, what is discussed in the article further exists, is actively developing and gaining recognition in the West for quite a long time. We, by the old habit, go our own way, which, incidentally, allows us to act wisely and learn from the mistakes of others.

by Evan Murray
by Evan Murray

May the guardians forgive us for the purity of the Russian language - today we will talk about crowdsourcing, and we are interested in the part in which we are talking about the collective solution of creative tasks (graphic design, affiliate web design, copywriting, etc.), or “collective creativity” as they call it in domestic practice. Let's talk about how this way of solving problems can be contrasted with the traditional agency model of work, about the advantages and disadvantages of both concepts.

So, to begin with, we will define the concepts. As in any trend area, there are many shades of opinions, classifications and other information noise around crowdsourcing. We will not go far and use the definition that offers us one of the key examples of the collective conscious - Wikipedia created on its basis: crowdsourcing is the transfer of certain production functions to an indefinite circle of persons; the solution of socially significant tasks by many volunteers, often coordinating with their activities with the help of information technology.

Few people imagine how deeply crowdsourcing roots go down in history. Well, what else can be attributed periodically announced by the authorities paid competitions to perform actual tasks? For example, 300 years ago, in 1713, the British Admiralty appointed a colossal remuneration for those times who would be able to solve existing problems with maritime navigation, which often led to serious accidents. As a result, success was achieved by one John Harrison, who proposed a chronometer, the accuracy of which remained an example for many decades to come. There are many more positive examples of the emergence of such inventions as a result of the announcement of competitions at the highest level. Not to mention how many failed examples.

Let us return to our time: the development of information technologies has made it possible to transform such serious, “global” competitions into a way to solve relatively minor problems and tasks in various fields. The term itself was first announced in June 2006, and its author is Jeff Howe, a writer and journalist, and Mark Robinson, the editor of Wired magazine. The beauty of it is that due to the youth of not only the term, but also the process itself, crowdsourcing has no clear boundaries and can be interpreted and used in completely different ways. There are no rules - there is only a direction in which this phenomenon continues its successful development.

According to the net of collective collectivism, the project crowdsourcing.org (who would doubt), there are various options for using collective efforts towards achieving a goal, and can be classified as follows:

Using the “crowd” for processing large amounts of information - distributed knowledge;

Raising funds for some innovative project from people who consider it promising - crowdfunding;

Ability to perform any work on request - cloud labor resources;

Open innovation - using access to the ideas and vision of a group of people to solve existing problems and problems;

Collective creativity - the ability to use groups of creative people to develop unique design and other visual or other kind of creative solutions.

Considering that, in general, crowdsourcing can equally denote any of the mentioned areas, we will agree that within the framework of this article we will use this concept with collective creativity. In this way, we will be able to save energy and correctly compare with the agency model of work on obtaining results of labor that are similar in essence — website design or logos, creating slogans, writing texts, etc.

The activity within the framework of this scheme is as follows: a customer who wants to get a design (anything) or resort to the services of a remote copywriter through crowdsourcing, places a brief on a special resource, determines the cost and deadlines for the work, selects the best among the sent options and after This system lists the winner a cash reward. By the way, the payment guarantee is provided by the system, since the customer transfers the money before starting work. Artists who remain out of work do not get anything but experience and practice. The placement site acts as an intermediary in this situation, guaranteeing payment for the contractor’s services and mutual compliance with the basic conditions for carrying out such work (copyright, protection against plagiarism, correctness of communication and the reality of the order, etc.), and also makes possible communication between the customer and the performer. And, of course, receives a certain percentage of each order.

Among the advantages of crowdsourcing over the traditional agency model of work (from the perspective of the client) are the following:

Ability to choose from a large number of options.

In the case of working with an agency in the final of the work, a limited number of options are offered for selection and it is implied that there is nothing better;

Cost reduction.

Payment is made only for a specific task and a specific performer, and in most cases, is assigned by the customer (some platforms only regulate the minimum cost of the project). There is no need to keep a creative team on staff, as well as to bear the cost of maintaining it, or to overpay for a similar expenses from a partner design / advertising agency. The cost of the project, as a rule, is 3-10 times lower than the similar result obtained from the agency;

Save time.

It consists in the absence of the need to spend time searching for suitable performers or agencies, browse dozens of portfolios, hold talks and personal meetings;

Access to a wide range of talents and a variety of approaches to solving problems.

Designers from different countries are working on the project, bringing their own age, culture and experience to the result, which ensures that there is always a fresh look at the task. When an agency's creative group works with one customer for a certain period of time, sooner or later the ideas are “washed out” and in this case it is very difficult to introduce a fresh stream;

Of course, in addition to the advantages of obtaining results through collective creativity, there are certain points that cause questions and doubts.

To begin with, the difficulties that arise in such cases are primarily related to the need for a clear brief from which the performer can clearly and unambiguously understand his task. The eternal problem of an adequate brief, discussed by advertisers thousands of times, becomes extremely urgent. In addition, it is assumed that the client has sufficient competence in assessing the results of work and choosing the winner, which is not always true, because there is a chance of winning subjective evaluations over common sense. Finally, it is generally accepted that the agency’s overall qualification, other things being equal, is higher than that of the average designer / copywriter who performs tasks in crowdsourcing platforms in the hope of being selected and receiving the indicated amount as a reward.

In addition, in the criticism of crowdsourcing as a model of work there are also such claims as:

The difficulty of competing by traditional agencies;

The leveling of creative work, because only one is paid, the chosen work, and all other performers understand that they have spent their time in vain;

The impossibility of building long-term relationships with a specific performer;

Increased probability of non-compliance with expectations. If the agency is responsible for this with its image, its face, then the crowdsourcing model cannot boast with it (however, in case of a project failure on the crowdsourcing platform, the customer will get his money back).

Both the advantages and disadvantages of these models depend largely on whose position we look at the problem during their determination. We are confident that this speaks in favor of the need to find alternatives. One of them, for example, was the first advertising agency operating on the principle of crowdsourcing, Victors & Spoils. There is no creative division in its structure - only a skeleton of responsible employees who know how best to get results in the process of using collective creativity to solve creative tasks, be it design, copywriting or anything else.

Perhaps the extreme, but pointing to the only currently constructive version of work for agencies - to show the client that for the best, high-quality use of the potential of crowdsourcing, the presence of real, practicing advertising specialists from relevant areas and working in the agency is necessary. And not only to show it to the client, but also to understand that crowdsourcing is something that can help you make money. Sooner or later, the market will come to this itself, but for now - it remains to wish success to those who are already beginning to adapt to the new conditions.