The open/crowd source movement, much discussed and written about, really fascinates me. A lot of debate I come across is around its use to lower costs, undermine monopolies and water down incentives for participation by talented creative/innovative folks. A bit of a dismal view. This is especially true in marketing where open design contests have brought the cost of something like logo design to hundreds of dollars rather than thousands. Sometimes less.
What interests me though is how open source allows us to do things we could not previously do or even think up. Wikipedia and Linux are quick obvious examples. In advertising we’ve experienced this movement in user-generated content. While I’ve been part of campaigns incorporating user content with success, this tactic seemingly is waning as its novelty expires as lazy brands use it to do their marketing for them. Others like AdHack are aiming to bring fresh minds into advertising through crowd sourcing with interesting early results. But, what really interests me is how open source thinking/tools can aid in strategy. This is great uncharted territory.
Ultimately, strategy when it comes to advertising, or planning if you prefer, generally either seeks to identify all possible paths a brand can take with a POV on the best one, or within an identified path uncover deeper insight fueling the end creative product. Often both at the same time.
Whether looking at identifying possible paths or creative driving insights, the one truth is that your outcome is ultimately defined by your input, either through quality of input or volume. Focus groups remain the primary blunt instrument, though not my preferred, along with a planner digesting every bit of published and observed bit of information they can get their hands on. Hopefully, more often than not, direct from the horses mouth. These approaches are still of value, but how can open source open us up to new sources of information, within a more dynamic context void of the negative focus group dynamics, to find greater volume and/or quality of input than previously possible.
Recently, I used Summize to pose a question to that community ultimately helping inform the strategy leading to what can justifiable be defined as a big idea delivering great creative and results, at least the folks at Creativity and Campaign thought so along with our client. In another instance and I don’t know if it led to the final work, but a while back Renny Gleeson at Wieden asked his Twitter community opinions of what American Style means within the context of Levis. Noah's Brand Tags and Branded Life that Richard Band of Egg Strategies brought to my attention are a couple other examples of open source planning input tools. And there are lots other tools, though we're always looking for more.
The dark art of Planning traditionally keeps its thinking and thoughts precious, but like many other industries, how can we open up the planning process, the inputs, to find new possible strategies and insights of a new nature? In the ideas business if the very nature of the strategy isn't innovative unto itself you've got a longer path to an innovative idea. To find new insight or strategy don't we need new approaches?
It's fun to think what the next generation of tools/approaches/methodology will be. For instance, ethnography is all about being in situ, so when researching digital habits it should probably be done in situ, through their computer while they are by themselves in their room. Not just with a researcher, ie. adult, sitting on the edge of their bed for a chat. Or even how we design and build products that collect better and smarter information about how they are being used, not just pools of blunt data.
It's early days, and new solutions/ideas take require new approaches. Best get on with that then...