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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : August 10, 2009

Online marketers harness the power of crowds

Savvy online businesses are beginning to realize the power of crowdsourcing, in particular online marketers who are increasingly opening up the tasks of designing ads, writing copy and even marketing research to large groups of people across the globe.

by Helen Leggatt

Why stick with the limited experience and creativity harnessed within a single agency or marketing department when you can outsource a marketing challenge to the online masses? That's the basis behind crowdsourcing, a term first coined by Jeff Howe, then editor of Wired, in his 2006 article "The Rise of Crowdsourcing".

Not only does crowdsourcing offer benefits such as low cost, fast-turnaround problem solving but, by listening to crowds, businesses can gain insight into how consumers are thinking. Common crowdsourced activities include product development, advertising and promotion and marketing research.

Recent examples of crowdsourcing include Google's hunt for a video to raise awareness of the Chrome logo and Bing's recent contest to create a jingle. Some companies, such as Starbucks and Dell, have a continual crowdsourcing presence via established websites such as and, via which they can throw out a variety of challenges.

However, while some businesses publish crowdsourcing requirements on their own websites, and manage activity in-house, more and more are turning to online services which act as markets via which businesses can interact with crowds. In some cases, such as at Innocentive, crowds may be handpicked and vetted to ensure a quality service and can command higher prices than freer communities who charge considerably less, sometimes nothing at all.

Examples of crowdsourcing websites include (brand names), (brainstorming) and (product redesign).

Tags: crowdsourcing, Dell,, Innocentive, outsource, Starbucks

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