Creative agency business Models
Madison Avenue, 1861: twenty agencies are already operating in Manhattan’s north-south thoroughfare. By the 1960s, a century later, the street is known globally as the pulsing heartbeat of the advertising industry, with Doyle Dane Bernbach’s (DDB) ‘Think Small’ Volkswagen advert emerging as one of the most memorable ads of the decade.
Whilst a number of agencies remain on Madison Avenue in 2011, including the aforementioned DDB, most have now upped-sticks and moved elsewhere in the Big Apple. But with the digital revolution in full swing, physical location isn’t quite as important as it once was. Marshall McLuhan’s vision of a global village has taken shape, and a business in Brooklyn can source creative services just as easily from Malaysia as it can from Manhattan. There might not be ‘free’ lunches and swanky meeting rooms, but by harnessing the power of web-based technologies, it’s now possible to cut through all the crap and into the heart of the Earth’s creative artery.
What I’m talking about, of course, is crowdsourcing. In its purest form, crowdsourcing can achieve massive feats in short periods of time, simply because thousands of people can collaborate on projects. It really is a tantalizing technique.
But of course, there are downsides. Quality can be compromised because labour is often cheap – or free. When Facebook launched its localisation programme in 2008, it faced the wrath of professional translators across the globe, with a ‘Leave translation to translators’ Facebook group formed in defiance against the social network’s localisation methods. Indeed, Facebook’s local-language websites have come in for a great deal of criticism for its ‘low-quality, no payment’ policy.
And many web-businesses operate low-cost ‘creative’ models under the auspices of crowdsourcing. Most of these platforms, however, don’t operate any real ‘crowd control’, so to speak. So you could potentially have anyone from a high-school dropout to a part-time plumber working on your company’s new logo.