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Real-time creative marketplaces are a threat

November 24, 2009

Take a trip to 99designs and you will get very scared. This is a marketplace for all kinds of design projects where clients can post briefs and get fast turnaround responses.

It’s very easy on this site for designers to find jobs and post their responses for all to see. I found it incredible that on the site a private equity firm received over 500 entries for its brief for a logo design, but more than that, 500 entries for a $600 prize!

Clearly we’ve reached a point where there’s a surplus of creative talent in the world; the barriers to entry have been reduced so dramatically that a laptop, an internet connection and an Adobe program is all you need to compete.

While this type of crowd-sourced competition would have been frowned upon years back and people would critique the quality of the creative solutions, this is probably no longer the case as you can tell from the standard of the entries for the logo. While they might not quite be up to the standard of the “best-in-class” creatives, they are way better than average.

It’s a far flung concept to imagine all kinds of creativity being disintermediated from its current home. All that’s needed is some scale, some names and a track record and this will happen.

While the surplus of creative talent is one factor, another reason for the appeal of this type of solution is the requirement for more creative content for less money.

Agencies need to think twice before dismissing this stuff, it’s a real threat and you can see clients who are increasingly finding their responsibilities stretch beyond marketing finding the simplicity and straightforwardness of these solutions very attractive.

In such a world, it’s imperative for agencies to prove their value across disciplines and show how they can transcend the perception that creative is just about executing.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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