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What Adobe’s Omniture Acquisition Means for Advertising

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Give Them What They Want – Eliminate What They Don’t Want

Crowdsourcing – what is it? Basically, it’s the appropriation of opinion from a large group of people, with or without a background in the topic being focused on, with the intent of creating a consensus as to the solution to a specific problem or task. The term was coined by Jeff Howe in a 2006 article written for Wired magazine. Its application can be applied to business practices, but for now I am contemplating its use/misuse and potential benefits and long-range damage to media content. Advertising, news, commentary, etc.

I’m all for a group effort in finding a solution to a problem. Everyone has their chance to offer their ideas and as a group you have the opportunity to create a new product, solve a task, or develop a new procedure. I was involved in this type of group effort when I worked in a manufacturing industry. Groups were put together to address various “problems”. There was an Increased Output Team, a Cycle Time Reduction Team, and a Quality Improvement Team. Everyone had a base knowledge and background that enabled them to participate and ultimately solve their team’s specific task.

Crowdsourcing on the other hand puts together a large group of people without assessing their knowledge base and background for the purpose of finding a solution to a proposed task. In this context I am having some difficulty finding value to the process. Particularly when the outcome of crowdsourcing results in advertising, editorial, and deciding what is newsworthy. I admit I’m a newbie to this concept, but I already see the potential for a negative impact down the road.

Everyone wants to save a buck. So I can fully understand a company trying to find an economically beneficial solution to their marketing/advertising objectives. What can they do? Well, they can come up with contests that offer a prize for the winning advertisement for their product. Get as many people as they can to send in ideas and they pick the winner. Let’s go one better, offer a prize to the person who can pick the winner. The idea being that the crowd will ultimately know what it likes and deliver the right message and eliminate what it doesn’t want to know/hear/see. Sorry, just the thought of this process being considered a legitimate way to solve one’s advertising objectives makes me very sad.

There was a time when unsolicited ideas sent in to a company or agency were never opened. Never considered. Now, you’re telling me that you are willing to review material sent in by anyone. There was a time when you had to have some background in your field in order to be considered worthy of offering an opinion. Worthy of review. Anyone who trotted all over town with their portfolio after college knows exactly what I’m talking about. So now I’m to understand that for the purpose of saving money companies choose to not utilize the talents of the truly talented (and educated) and the universe would prefer to consider the offerings of anyone with a pulse.

I read every day about the changes in journalism. The advent of instant media seems to be stampeding over the conventions of journalistic output. Faster is better. Cheaper is better. Being noticed is more important than being accurate, balanced, and providing full disclosure. I’m not saying online journalism is corrupt or flawed to the point of┬ábeing a bane to society. I am considering how its evolution may deteriorate into a worthless pulpit that provides the public with what they want to hear and not necessarily what they need to know. I hope a balanced approach to the dissemination of information will always be the benchmark of the integrity we hope for in our news outlets.

What happens then when in order to prop up sales the media decides to give the public what they want? Do you want random groups of people responding to questions about media deciding what is considered newsworthy? Could that be a potential result of crowdsourcing the news?

What if there were a predominant sentiment in editorial submissions? Would that sentiment become the ultimate solution? How would you know that was the predominant sentiment? Who decides? Can the use of crowdsourcing truly provide the answer in an editorial format? Who is moderating the discussion? Is it even a discussion anymore?

These are some of the things that have been rattling around in my head lately. While I can see the benefits of a group consensus when that group is qualified to be considered a worthy source to tap into, I still can’t see how a random group of people processing information – with all of their biases and personal objectives – could be the best way to put together an advertising campaign. I don’t understand how the potential elimination of information (due to a random group’s interests being focused on some of the information and not all of it) could possibly offer me news that is fully fashioned, properly vetted, without commentary, and without the inclusion of an unbalanced agenda.

No answers here – just some thoughtful consideration… I will continue to seek out factual data that will enable me to come to some conclusions about crowdsourcing. For now, I wait, I watch, I read, and I scrutinize the media that comes my way. I guess I could do a little crowdsourcing myself right now. I’d like to hear from you – any and all of you . What impact will crowdsourcing have on advertising, news, and commentary?

I’m at a turning point. I receive the local paper daily. Have been for years. My subscription is coming due for renewal and I’m debating the virtues of my continued support for the paper versus the ease of acquiring virtually any information I need online.

I’ve been debating the Pros and Cons in my head for days now…


  • The information received via print is perceived to be fully vetted and therefore accurate. I say perceived because there seems to be some movement to rush to print these days and perhaps the facts are not fully explored on all occasions.
  • I enjoy holding paper in my hand when reading versus staring at a screen. My bookcase will attest to my devotion to print.
  • I would be supporting the local paper. Something of a dying breed these days, but vital in many ways to promote a community and unify its residents.


  • Current is a word that cannot be applied to all of the articles in the paper. Lately it is routine to find information that I already read about or saw on tv two or three days prior to publication in the local paper. Makes me wonder if they are just trying to fill space or are they really that slow in processing information for print? Either way, for me, it’s a waste of space, time, and money.
  • I realize the economy is not in the best of health and more and more local shops are turning to ROP ads to help push customers in their direction. But, the volume of these ads has increased to the point where I’m wondering on some days where the meat of the news is. More ads than information on those days. Or so it seems to me. This type of noise is not pleasing to the eye and I find that I routinely scan right past a page that is overcome with ink from an overabundance of ads. No ROI for me.
  • Now let’s consider the price. I won’t say it’s ridiculous, but considering much of the info is yesterday’s news for me, I have a hard time justifying the cash out of pocket investment right now. I’m actually surprised that I feel that way. I used to always feel like the local paper was really worth it.

I guess that’s the basics of my considerations in this decision process. I’m a devout student of media. It’s what excites me. It’s what I do. I don’t want to close the door on print, but I find it harder and harder to justify its usefulness. I’m not what you’d call a digital fanatic either. While I enjoy the speed of info pulsing into my personal space via blogs, online news feeds, twitter, facebook, etc. – I have a definite filter in place which cautions me to explore validity, motive, and substance when relying on the info I can gain through these outlets. I wish I could allow myself the luxury of total faith. I know better…

So – where does that leave me? Do I continue to pay to receive information that is old news at times and presented within a waterfall of ink due to the placement of ads? Do I support the local paper simply because it is the local paper? Do I make the paradigm shift to digital? Give up print and swim solely in the online pool of information. Have you been considering the same shift? Is there some other benefit or consideration I’m missing before making my decision?

I truly believe that change is the one constant in our lives. It is inevitable and necessary. Perhaps this is inevitable, but is it really necessary right now?