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The Demise of Madison Avenue -- 5 Steps to Crowdsource Creative Video Genius

In this blog I'm going to talk further about the video content creation site Tongal and outline its founder James DeJulio's suggestions for how best to use it.

As we saw in my last blog, Tongal uses exponential mechanisms to create video advertising content that's much more cost-effective, timely and downright creative than the "linear-thinking" mindset of Hollywood or Madison Avenue. As founder +James DeJulio told me, "When you have a closed system that's run by insiders, you're going to get closed outputs, you're going to get the same outputs all the time and you're going to get less people."

Tongal does away with that by opening up creativity to the crowd and creating competitions that reward people for their creativity, rather than for whom they know.

I'm really impressed by the thinking behind Tongal. A Tongal competition to make a 15-second ad can be done in a few days -- much less time than it would take a traditional bureaucracy-bound ad agency to even get a first round of creative conversations going.

"We just completed a great project for Unilever for their 'I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!' brand. It literally took three weeks," DeJulio said, "and resulted in multiple versions of a TV ad. The brand got really excited. It's empowering. Companies will see a thousand ideas. Statistically speaking, in the pool of a thousand ideas there is going to be some that you never would have thought of."

Another brand, LEGO, tapped into the Tongal crowd to further its connection with its audience of LEGO lovers. "LEGO was such a brilliant content marketer and its business is two times bigger than it was five years ago," he said. "They've invited people who love this brand to get involved, and that invites creativity just by the nature of it. It invites different kinds of thinking. LEGO is leveraging our platform to harness the creative energy that's out there around LEGO. It gets amazing results across different product lines. It's not canned. It's somebody's true creativity coming to the surface."

In effect, through Tongal, a brand gets to make the important big decisions but allows the creative genius out there to be the pure director. Madison Avenue, for example, will charge millions on annual retainers from a brand and the brand will get only a few content ideas for that money.

"A large brand will typically spend between 10% and 20% of their media buy on creative," DeJulio said. "So, for example, if they have a $500-million media budget, there's somewhere between $50 to $100 million going towards creating content. For that money they'll get maybe seven to 10 pieces of content. And," DeJulio adds, "if you're going to spend $1 million on one piece of content, it's going to take a long time, six months, nine months, a year to fully develop. With this budget and timeline you have no margin to take chances creatively."

By contrast, Tongal competitions generate an average of 422 concepts in the idea phase, followed by an average of 20 to 100 finished video pieces in the video production phase. That is a huge return for the invested dollars and time.

"The majority of the creative people working in the Tongal community were hobbyists who grew up making content for the Internet," said DeJulio, "but as our prize purses have steadily increased in value, we're starting to see super-talented people -- who would otherwise have been hired in the traditional advertising industry -- opt into using our platform instead. And, as Tongal-generated content gets better, brands are putting more money on the line. It's a very positive, self-reinforcing cycle. So now, it's not unusual to have a $50,000 or $60,000 prize purse result in a set of deliverables for which a traditional agency would have normally charged millions."

And compared to those millions of dollars, these purses generate dozens of usable ideas. "What we're finding is that people who are real professional are starting to develop commercials through Tongal because they can be creative and provide quality work with far less bureaucracy, without having to get on a million conference calls."

At this point in my interview, I'm sold on Tongal and thinking about how I can use it for X PRIZE, Singularity U, Planetary Resources, and even promoting Abundance and BOLD. So I ask DeJulio to give me advice on the key lessons and advice he'd offer an early user to consider. Here's his answer:

1. Have an open mind – allow different ideas into your way of thinking. "Don't do what's expected," DeJulio said. "Try something new." Allow the crowd to come up with wild and crazy bold ideas that might complement the genius of your brand. "Trust us, trust the process, don't try to recreate what you're doing normally. The goal is to get something new and fresh."

2. Know what you want. "If you know where you want to go, the process will get you to that point," DeJulio said. For example, decide whether you want to use Tongal to create a television commercial or a series of YouTube shorts. "Once you know that, we reverse-engineer everything to get you there and the community will do the rest of the work. That's the brilliant part of this is. Turn the signal on and it will find its way."

3. Offer a good size purse. "This would still be a fraction of what you might normally pay," DeJulio said, "but if you offer a bit more, you're going to attract more players and better content. The higher the purse, the higher the quality of deliverables. The more diversity you will get." A purse size can range from $2,500 to $250,000 (and more going forward). "But we're really talking about six-figure compared to a seven- or eight-figure sum" that might be charged by a traditional advertising agency.

4. Allocate less time than traditionally needed for a campaign to be created. The typical Madison Avenue process takes between six months to a year, and sometimes as long as two years to come up with, develop and fully execute on a concept. With Tongal, it can go from concept to execution in weeks, even days. In general, DeJulio said, "Tongal comes in "10 times better, 10 times faster, 10 times cheaper."

5. Use Tongal as a distribution mechanism to drive traffic to your video content. "There are people who are good at coming up with ideas, there are people who are good at producing the content and there are people who are really good at sharing content so we opened up a third Tongal competition phase for them," DeJulio said. "We call it our Exhibition Phase. If someone is good at pushing page views, this Exhibition Phase is a chance for them to shine. Someone with a YouTube channel, friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter, could earn cash and prizes for sharing Tongal videos with friends and fans." In success, this final phase will drive millions of views to the videos you create on Tongal.

Tongal offers a CEO or CMO the opportunity to "have an open mind, to find new markets, to find a new voice for their brand," says DeJulio. "The world is changing so fast, and getting hung up on your brand equity from 20 years ago may not be the best decision." And if you're looking for something new, you may not look for creativity from your traditional sources. "Sometimes if five brilliant people get together you can get to something really exciting and really creative. But why would you ever bet on the same five people over and over again? The world's a big place," says DeJulio, "I believe that talent is scarce but I don't think it's just five people -- I think its 50 million people, and Tongal can help you tap into that amazing crowd of genius."

In my next blog, I follow up with DeJulio on Tongal's recent Super Bowl win for Speed Stick.

NOTE: As always, I would love your help in co-creating BOLD, and will happily acknowledge you as a "contributing author" for your input. Please share with me (and the community) in the comments below what you specifically found most interesting, what you disagree with and any similar stories or examples that reinforce this blog that I might use as examples in writing BOLD. Thank you!
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Peter, I really find this interesting.  My comment is that most business owners and readers of your blog don't control a six figure advertising budget.  To keep your content as broadly useful as possible I would love to hear who else is taking this distributed creative approach and bringing it to the average business.  I know there are many contest sites for logo design, and certainly others.  Have you seen any doing physical product development, programming, apps, etc?  Where else is this concept being leveraged for faster, better, cheaper results?
I also find this interesting and wonder how we can leverage this for resale to our Marketing service clients. Is this a play for small to  Mid-Market sized accounts. I would love to see more case studies!
First, the concept of figuring out the direction of the campaign, then reverse engineering your way back is very effective. A lot of people start at the beginning, don't know where they are going, and then get stuck along the way wasting time and money in the process. 

Second, specializing the distribution mechanism with a category for sharing sounds attractive.

Third, to follow on Jason's point, if there is a way to crowd source a creative campaign for 250 dollars to help small businesses with effective video marketing, that would be more impressive and disruptive to the extent that small companies have a shot at hitting a viral campaign globally.  
Peter, you are such a force for innovation and expanding new ways for people to think. I submit that all of us can learn from the past, and at the same time break out of it's limits. A more open-source model creates a win-win that helps everyone, is more effective, artistic, and expresses our unique humanity at the same time.

Tongal seems to have found a way to do that with sharing promotions tapped from creative minds without the baggage that layers of corporatism often brings with it. I see this as an encouraging example of where more solutions and engagement is found.

Thanks for bringing it to our attention, and for being up to worthy things.
With a Tongal competition I can perhaps get the cheap marketing to make a crowd funding campaign succeed. Full cycle :-)
From Wikipedia:
Money is any object or record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given socio-economic context or country. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange; a unit of account; a store of value; and, occasionally in the past, a standard of deferred payment. Any kind of object or secure verifiable record that fulfills these functions can be considered money.

In the new economy:
The things’ value is subjective to the buyer and to the performer of the work, which must compete with others to be hiring...

New trend... new economy!!!
It is very (deceptively) simple... Once you free your mind from any limitation, growth skyrockets in whatever it is that you do!
I think this is an excellent approach to marketing and advertising. And much more creative, efficient and won't break the bank. Today, I'm still shocked and really surprised to see how "bad" a lot of the advertising and branding is, especially from the big agencies. Isn't it kind of appalling to watch some of the ads, knowing the amount of money that was spent and this is the best they could do. Over the last year, one of the Home Improvement chains (not HD) has been running spots and promotions to help their customers track their purchases. I couldn't believe how bad they were. While they were very well produced, it took them almost a year to tell you exactly what having this account would do for you and even then,it never simply stated what it did. And I'm sure this company paid a pretty penny for this uninspiring promotion.

Ron Greenfield
+Anthony Paglino I too have looked for ways to crowdsource video production on a low budget. As it turns out, many people make a hobby out of video production and are willing to work at it on the side of what they do for a living. My best advice would be Craigslist. A large number of videographers will freelance work off of Craigslist to make an extra buck or two. Whether its putting together o promo video for your organization, or filming weekly webisodes, I believe that you will be able to find someone of your desired skill level that will be willing to work under your budget. You might be surprised at the talent come your way.
I like that Tongal is using the crowd for getting creativity and also for spreading creativity with the exhibition phase of each project.  I think Tongal has correctly identified the real source of creativity. Computers can produce and calculate cheaper that humans do, but they cannot yet be creative.  But now we see that using computers humans can aggregate ideas and create mutually fantastic results.  Unfortunately the budgets I see in the portal are still high. 
I have not seen this site but...all true.  I could do a 15 sec video advertisement (example 7Up) . I would do it the same day I was hired.
 This gives immediacy which is the new wave here.
As someone who is beginning to think about scaling up our marketing from a 30 year local base, I wonder what is the first next step after the decision to move forward?
I completely agree with Peter's point of view.
the advertising gencies are going to the next disintermediated industry.
the point here is "are clients ready to listen and engage the crowd"?
if companies do know what they are looking for, then the crowd can make them shine. if the companies are looking for agencies not as consultant but as decision makers, then there's no chance the crowd can help.

btw take a look also at big corporations are using it to create great contents.
zooppa is filled with consumers, not creatives, google my idea UnCorporation, has an intro, google for the full google doc - UnCorporation 01 Powered Ethical Crowdsourcing
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