A New Agency Model: An Interview With Peter LaMotte from GeniusRocket

With agency models in the marketing world in a state of flux, opportunity is ripe for new, more nimble and potentially more innovative agencies to arise. One such agency is GeniusRocket, a small and creative firm focused on video production that brings together the best of traditional advertising with modern crowdsourcing ideas.

GeniusRocket has developed a crowdsourcing model that enables companies to source ideas from a hand-picked and vetted community of creative and video production professionals. Collaboratively, GeniusRocket works with clients to ensure that content produced fits clearly with the client’s vision and strategy while still providing the security, privacy and control associated with more traditional agency models.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to ask a few questions to Peter LaMotte, the President of GeniusRocket.

Q: What do you feel are the most notable benefits for clients of GeniusRocket’s unique agency model?

A: I think it has to do with comparison to what else is out there. The paths that have always been there have been “go local”, meaning essentially freelance – like a local guy or someone you might know – or go to an agency for the creative space. What crowdsourcing has done, through its evolution, is provide a third alternative. By using GeniusRocket, clients get the benefits of privacy, creative oversight and direction, and quality that an agency delivers as well as the speed, choice and the affordability of your traditional crowdsourcing paths. So, it’s meant to be the best of both worlds. We feel we’re the best approach out there for creating video content for a brand that really isn’t interested in just sophomoric humour or some of the stuff that tends to come out of contests. When you say “hey, $5,000 to the best video” and anyone can submit ideas, you tend to get a lot of college humour, a lot of students participating. When people are truly looking for agency level production, and quality of ideas, GeniusRocket delivers that through our crowdsourcing model.

Q: Often times with more traditional agencies, you’ll have the same creatives dedicated to a client account over an extended period of time. Is that possible through your model?

Yes, it is. Traditionally in an ad agency there is a small team dedicated to an account – and when a brand goes to the agency, you will typically get variations of the same idea. Someone will pitch idea A, and someone will come up and say “that’s great but what if we do this”, and all of a sudden you have ten ideas but it’s really A, AB, AC, AD. Someone else may come up with something new, but it usually ends up being B, BC, BD, again variations of the same idea. Whereas what the the crowd delivers through crowdsourcing and GeniusRocket’s curated process, leveraging established relationships with professionals, is a diverse range of creative and production choices. As a result of our relationship with the creatives, if a client comes back to us and says “I loved working with that team”, then we’ll make sure the same team either participates in another crowdsourcing initiative with the client or works directly with the client. Now where we see that happening more is actually in the production side, so what people will say is “gosh, I love the fact that we got 25 original professional ideas from you”, and “I love the fact that I used that production company, is there anyway going forward we can continue to work with that production company?”. We do that a lot, for one of our biggest clients we’ve done six national TV spots with them across three different projects, four of them done with same production company.

Q: How do you envision agency models evolving over the next number of years? Are you seeing other agencies coming in, with models that are similar to yours?

A:  The trouble with large agencies trying to adapt to this changing environment, and yes they do have to adapt, is that they’re going to have a tough time shaving off excess baggage that they have to make themselves more nimble. It’s not that they’re not going to do it, its just going to be difficult for them and they’re really going to turn to maybe more virtual teams than they have in the past and learn a lot from what is working at companies like GeniusRocket and Victors and Spoils from a more traditional approach. I believe you’ll see some disappear, more will acquire companies like ours to give them that agility

For a post on another innovative crowdsourcing firm in the ad industry, read my interview with Ignacio Oreamuno from Giant Hydra.

Innovation in Advertising: Ignacio Oreamuno and Giant Hydra

I am excited to introduce a new feature on my blog. Every few weeks, I will be posting short interviews with interesting people who are truly making an impact in the business world – through their thoughts, their ideologies and their actions, paving the path for new and innovative ways of doing things.

This week’s interview is with Ignacio Oreamuno, a true innovator in the advertising industry. Ignacio is President of IHAVEANIDEA, one of the world’s largest online advertising communities, and he is CEO of the Tomorrow Awards, an international advertising awards show with a focus specifically on the future of advertising.

More recently, Ignacio developed and launched Giant Hydra. Giant Hydra is a unique technology that enables ad agencies and clients to access a global pool of creative professionals for work on a particular project. Qualified professionals, selected by the ad agencies and clients, participate in mass collaboration – working virtually and as a team through Giant Hydra, leveraging their collective ingenuity to create ideas for the project at hand.

Thank you, Ignacio, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share your insights.

1. How do you envision the creative development process at agencies evolving over the next five to ten years? With respect to a movement towards mass collaboration, at what stage are we at?

The advertising has not changed in over 150 years. It is pretty much the same structure and method of work.

Take a look at all other industries and you can see that they all have changed dramatically over the last 50, 20, 10 and even last two years. Remember when Kodak claimed that digital photography would never have the quality of film? When music companies said digital music wouldn’t work, that the quality of CD’s was better?

The creative process between a copywriter and an art director that Burnbach famously pioneered is no longer apt for the campaigns of today.

As the recession proved, money talks. If an industry can produce a product (in this case creative ideas) in a lot less time, of better or equal quality and for less money, there is nothing that will stop change from destroying the old way of things. All it takes is a handful of agencies to start doing it and boom, it will change things forever.

Look at other industries, like digital film, online music etc. Once technology makes things better, it’s impossible to turn back the page.

Right now agencies are skeptical. They are all waiting for the other one to try mass collaboration and see if it works. Again, instead of seeing the opportunity and jumping on it, a lot of them are so scared of change that they would rather wait. I know a few people who say this model won’t work. They are the same people that have never used it. Ironic.

2. What do you believe is the biggest barrier with regards to improving collaboration and innovation?

The biggest barrier is going to be in getting proof that mass collaboration produces quality. Agencies want to know one thing and one thing only. That you can produce award winning work out of mass collaboration. Giant Hydra is so new that it is hard to show case studies since all of the work is confidential. It will take some time for the work to come out and for the evidence to be ready. I am not worried about that, I’m just focused now on showing the system on a case by case basis to each agency. Everybody always gets blown away by the quality of the people working in the system and the quality of the ideas.

I don’t think there are any more barriers apart from that. Giant Hydra works. Period. Mass collaboration works. Period. I’ve seen it, I’m seeing it right now.

3. A number of creative professionals and associations have expressed reservations about crowdsourcing, essentially claiming that crowdsourced creative undervalues their skills and expertise. What are your thoughts on this?

The HydraHeads in Giant Hydra are all paid. Some of them work on multiple projects at the same time earning multiple fees. And they work from wherever they are in the world, whether that is NY or Japan or a beach. They are all award winning creatives, strategists, planners, and social media mavericks. I would challenge anyone to have a beer with one of the HydraHeads and ask them how they feel about it. In all honesty, they seem pretty excited and happy, and these are 10+ years experience people.

Most people understand crowdsourcing as a contest where the best idea wins. This is not the case with mass collaboration crowdsourcing where it’s essentially a group of people (more than 2 working together online for a fixed salary). The word “crowdsourcing” is now tainted I think, and there’s not much anyone can do about that.

Follow Ignacio Oreamu on Twitter at @ihaveanidea.

Follow Giant Hydra on Twitter at @GiantHydra.