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Monday, September 14, 2009

Unilever and Crowd Sourcing

More details in AdAge about Unilever's use of crowd sourcing to replace some kinds of some product marketing. The comments are also interesting.

1 comment:

Mark Montgomery said...

Yet another wave of similar tensions since the commercialization of the Internet. What was hoped by many of us to be a medium that would level the playing field (which it has in very specific cases), it has often instead resulted in rather large teams moving to new fields, complete with new rules and even new games. More often like rolling over industries and countries.

I have rarely defended the advertising industry-- indeed one of the self-guided management modules we published worldwide for small business used our own case history demonstrating that like so many other parts of our economy, the industry has quite often avoided accountability, and rarely in my experience providing good ROI.

Of course the pioneers in Web advertising could see clearly that the tracking abilities of computing would introduce accountability to at least one portion of the creative arts. If you want to see some great discussions, look at the early discussion lists in 1995 and 1996 - I-Sales (library of Congress), Internet Advertising, and Internet Marketing. The Asian Internet Marketing discussion list was also interesting- I contributed and benefited from each.

That said, while it's good for giants to get closer to their customers, Internet users would be wise to understand that advertising can only pay for a small portion of the functionality in this global medium, and that while the consumer has been subsidized enormously on the Web to this point-- most of the subsidy has been from investors. In other words look for more pay as you go models moving forward, finally, which are in fact better for end users anyway-- less manipulation.

The ugly side of the medium is that it allows another part of the creative personality to exploit disequalibrium throughout the global economy, with almost no regulation, or even intelligent thought at times... the wild west doesn't do justice to some of the culture out there-- then at least both sides had similar guns, even if one more likely to use it than the other.

From day one it has been clearly demonstrated over and over again that if a good idea is placed on the Web, it will be copied and stolen with no recourse but a very expensive civil case, often across borders.

Most disturbing to me is that it often seems that industry giants in the computer industry invest heavily in preventing theft of their own IP, but when it comes to all other types of content, it seems they benefit from freeism, talk a good game, but don't adopt protection -- in some/most cases they profit mightily from freeism, aka exploitation. So far few have embraced methods to protect IP. It's difficult for the economist in me to see the cost to innovation (already many geniuses boycott the Internet) is anything but self-destructive and a march towards mediocrity at best.

I'm afraid I must agree with the creative types on this one --- small flat fees for what could be billion dollar contributions is not much of an attraction--even though it's higher than most. How about a small percentage of sales... or even NOI... a dime a click online might surpass $10k pretty quickly.

.02- MM