There is no shortage of ad agencies or ad agency models. Digital agencies, direct agencies, full service agencies, boutique agencies. Add to that the latest model: a crowdsourcing agency. Yes there has been buzz galore about crowdsourcing in the advertising business for some time. And there’s no shortage of services to provide it: crowdSpring for design, Tongal for TV spots, AdHack for freelance content.
But Victors and Spoils, a new startup lead by my good friend John Winsor, along with partners Evan Fry and Claudia Batten, is trying something new: a crowdsourcing agency. Why? Crowdsourcing aint’ easy. That promise of getting something better by inviting more people to submit ideas only works if: a. the crowd is any good; b. the strategy and management of the process is efficient; and c. the filtering systems save you from rummaging through thousands of submissions to find the one that might be right. Plus, you have to coddle that crowd a little bit, too. Otherwise those who don’t prevail may never return again.
Supposedly Victors and Spoils is going to do this. Knowing John, I have no doubts that he has a plan in mind. But it probably won’t be easy. He’s got to attract a talented crowd, convince clients to try the model, deliver the goods, and figure out how to satisfy both clients and a creative department that doesn’t work for him and could lose interest at any time. Should be fun.
I eagerly await news about Victors and Spoils adventures. Until then, I can only offer you this interview with Evan Fry, V&S’s chief creative officer, who has his work cut out for him. Being the creative director of a department in which everyone works for you is hard enough. Leading a virtual department of non-employee creatives might promises to be even more challenging.
C_U: Is the world ready for a crowdsourcing agency?
Evan: Now more than ever. The world just might not know it is all. But more and more they will be hearing about various solutions for various things coming from the community or from customers — from building designs to car paint-color naming like the Chevy Volt thing, to ad campaigns, logos, etc – and it will be more and more normal. It’s inevitable and it’s sticky already.
C_U: Do you think clients will consider you as agency of record, or only for projects?
Evan: Projects. At least at first. And especially for the larger clients. But soon that will change.
C_U: I would think some agencies might look at you as a new freelance pool. Or do you assume you’ll exclusively serve clients directly?
Evan: Great question. And the answer is this. Whether we work directly for clients or via an AOR intermediary, we want it to feel the same to the client. We have a hunch that at first we’ll probably get about 50 percent work from clients and 50 percent work from agencies of record.
C_U: Many clients are looking at crowdsourcing initially as a way to save money. Will this save clients money? Or simply give them more resources?
Evan: Absolutely both. We’re going to feel like an agency but be small and nimble. For projects that require lots of resources and lots of brains, we’ll efficiently farm the assignment out via web/crowds and a client will only pay for the thinking. They won’t pay for the lights, the desks, the electricity or the dental plan. Just the ideas. And of course, they’ll pay for the management and direction.
C_U: (To self: Does anyone really have a dental plan actually paid for by their company?) To Evan: How about the creative community itself. Will this force them to offer services for less? Or is it more about allowing emerging talent to get a chance?
Evan: We plan to reward briefs at higher levels and more levels (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc) than other current crowdsourcing platforms we’re familiar with. And we plan to reward for various other contributions and creative direction. As well as some reputation ranking and sharing of revenue. As we build our creative department and our client base, we envision the possibility for the most ambitious and talented creatives who work on V&S gigs to be able to make as much as any creative on staff out there today. But it’s also about giving emerging talent chances along with direction and grooming.
C_U: How is this different from all the other crowdsourcing creative services out there?
We’ll feel like an agency. We’ll create work like a crowdsourcing model. We’ll groom work for clients. We’ll make sure it’s always on brief and on brand. They won’t have to deal with overwhelming quantity of entries. They won’t have to direct people and they won’t have to weed through content. As we build out our own platform, they’ll eventually have the option to do some of this, but even then there will be a creative director inside the crowd who’s being paid to shepherd the brief and deliver spot-on work. So the biggest difference between existing, put simply, is that it’s headache free. And strategically managed.
Sounds like John, Evan and gang have it somewhat thought out. Kudos to them for taking the leap and trying something new. What do you think? Is the world ready for a crowdsourcing agency? As an agency are you excited or concerned? And as a client, are you ready to sign up? Please share your thoughts. This is interesting.
Photo by: striatic