Digital advertising has surpassed TV advertising in revenue for the first time in 2016, which is a testament to the power of video above all online content types. But how come marketers are slow on the uptake when it comes to video marketing? Crowdsourcing!

The Struggle is Real for Video Marketing Content Creation

In a 2015 B2B video content marketing survey, time and money emerged as the main reasons why video production is held back. But with the emergence of new technologies and social media platforms, the level of difficulty in producing, distributing, and promoting video was significantly reduced. But why are brands still slow when it comes to video production?

The answer is in a 2016 video marketing survey, which identified lack of effective strategy and compelling content as the culprits in the prevalent video output anaemia.

  • Lack of effective strategy stems from not being able to align the video marketing goals with the business goals.
  • Lack of compelling content, on the other hand, comes from unclear video content goals.

But out of those challenges emerged an industry that in 2015 was worth $34 billion: crowdsourcing.

Drawing from the Creative Skills of the Crowd

The State of Crowdsourcing 2015 revealed that in the past 10 years, 85% of brands included the 2014 Best Global Brands list have used crowdsourcing.

The study also identified video as the most crowdsourced content type.

Why do brands prefer video?

According to an interview with, Olga Egorsheva, co-founder and CEO of Lobster,

Crowdsourced or UGC (user-generated content) video is growing, because brands want to be more natural and authentic to their customers.”

4 Benefits of Crowdsourcing User-Generated Content video

In an Adweek interview, Poptent (a social video marketing platform) president Neil Perry shared four major benefits of video crowdsourcing:

  1. Variety – Clients can choose from a number of finished videos, ready for publishing, instead of just several.
  2. Cost – For as low as one-seventh of the cost of a video made in the traditional manner, clients can choose and purchase from dozens of ideas and spots.
  3. Quality – There’s bound to be serious talents from the platform’s community of filmmakers. You’re looking at a pool of film and art school graduates, amateurs, long-time hobbyists, and even Academy Award winners who have broadcast-quality portfolio and proven track record.
  4. Fast Turnaround – Projects can be done in as fast as 72 hours or 30 days.

How does it work?

Crowdsourcing video campaigns differ from traditional ad agencies in that they’re informally sourced and produced, and therefore cheaper, more creative, innovative, and agile. The setup is so informal that the project brief could be as short as a call-to-action or a tweet.

Tongal’s case study breaks down the video crowdsourcing process into three phases:

  • Ideation – The client creates a 140-character brief and then Tongal members send in ideas.
  • Pitch – Once an idea is chosen, it gets thrown back to the members, so they can send in their or interpretation of the idea, usually in the form of storyboards or video presentations.
  • Production – Sometimes there’s no need for production as the pitch is a finished video ready for publishing or distribution. There are also cases in which the client reshoots the video but retains the idea.

5 Crowdsourcing Best Practices

Hult Prize’s founder and CEO, Ahmad Ashkar, shared his guidelines on launching an engaging competition:

  • Define the Boundaries – Be clear about the types of solutions you’re seeking, as well as the success metrics. Avoid falling into the open-ended trap.
  • Identify a Specific and Bold Stretch Target – It’s basically setting the goal higher to inspire participants to think big.
  • Insist on Low Barriers to Entry – The point of the first phase is to encourage as many ideas from as many people as possible.
  • Encourage Teams and Networks – This is especially true for large-scale and highly complex projects that an individual can’t possibly tackle by himself, a.k.a. social problems.

3 Brands that Have Done Video Crowdsourcing Right

Amazing Day

Frontman Chris Martin asked their Facebook fans to share what’s happening in their corner of the world for the band’s Amazing Day global film project. Thousands did and here’s the result:

Why did it work? It’s pure global fellowship showcasing the diversity of Coldplay’s fans all over the world. The concept is also aligned with the band’s character and aim to be modern-day multicultural ambassadors. Chris Martin is following the footsteps of long-time artist/humanitarian, Bono, and has pledged to be Global Citizen festival’s live concert curator for the next 15 years.

New Orleans

The prize was a trip to London, a spot at a Sundance workshop, plus a video camera, in exchange for a 15-second video on Instagram promoting their city. It’s for Airbnb’s Sundance Film Festival sponsorship.

The winner:

Why was the campaign a success? The contest was open for only under two weeks and the prizes are pretty modest, but it still registered 950 submissions. That’s almost a thousand Instagrammers taking the timeout to showcase their city for the world to see. How’s that for hitting the brand’s goal of encouraging people to explore places they’ve never been to before and staying at a place they can enjoy and afford?

Crash the Super Bowl Final 2016

For a chance to win $1M and work with 300, Man of Steel, and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zach Snyder on a future DC project for Warner Brothers, 4,500 videos from 28 countries were submitted.

Here’s the grand winning ad:

Why did it work? Although in its final run, the campaign has produced nine other consumer-created ads for Doritos’ Superbowl spot. From quality and execution to actual results, they’re up there competing with top ad agencies. As for goals hit, these ads gave the winners a truly life-changing experience and the brand a relatable, friendly, and you-can’t-possibly-watch-superbowl-again-without-a-bag-of-doritos image.

In summary:

If 85% of brands have done video crowdsourcing, why not you too? It’s popular not just because it’s trending, but because it’s actually effective.


Aside from getting ideas straight from customers, fans, or the “people on the ground”,  and therefore making the videos look and feel real and authentic:

  • It offers variety. By the thousands.
  • It’s one-seventh cheaper than traditionally produced ads.
  • It’s like a box of chocolates, you’ll never know what you’re going to get, but lucky you if it’s an actual Academy Award-winning filmmaker who’s already probably tired of the glitter and glamour of Hollywood…
  • Projects can be done in a span of two weeks to a month.

What makes for a successful crowdsourcing project?

  1. Defined boundaries.  The target and expectations must be clear. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” right?
  2. Set the bar high. To attract out-of-the-box thinkers, your challenge must be odds defying.
  3. Make it easy for people to join. A wise man once said, “The more, the many-er.”
  4. Encourage teams and networks to participate. This is related to number two. If the project is highly complex and monumental, no one is expecting an individual, not even a super genius to solve it.

Subscribe to our blog