Financial Times crowdsources growth strategy with SA company

The London-based Financial Times, a leading global newspaper specialising in financial and business news, has commissioned a South African company to help it crowdsource ideas on how to increase the number of new subscriptions to its online offering, FT.com.

The financial broadsheet approached the Cape Town-based Idea Bounty with the task — a local community site that allows brands to tap the collective intelligence of creatives all over the world.

While crowdsourcing ideas is not a new concept, Idea Bounty claims it is one of the first in the world to award prize money for ideas alone.

The newspaper is facing similar difficulties as many of its counterparts in traditional media in trying to monetise their online offering and turn offline readers into online subscribers — this, in an age of unparalleled consumer choice made possible by a growing mass of (mostly free) content on the web.

When newspapers began publishing their content online in the late 1990s and early 2000s, they allowed readers to access it for free. That decision has created a major dilemma, because consumers now feel that they have a right to free news content, yet online advertising does not currently generate enough revenue to support the free content model.

Financial Times UK is determined to find a way out of this impasse, one that ensures the survival of the newspaper and that offers readers the high standards of quality editorial that they have come to expect.

The best idea will help to convert FT.com traffic and offline Financial Times readers into paid subscriptions for FT.com.

To participate, a user can simply register on The Idea Bounty site, read more about the brief, and send in their most original idea.

The winner will receive US$5 000 and the top 10 shortlisted ideas will also be awarded a full annual subscription to the Financial Times.

Currently, Idea Bounty has over 11 500 registered participants and has hosted ten
successful briefs since it launched in November 2008. First National Bank, Levi’s® and BMW have all worked with Idea Bounty to solicit marketing and advertising ideas from a diverse group of thinkers based in over 20 different countries. More than 6 000 ideas have been submitted, with eleven lucky winners so far.

“Idea Bounty is the antithesis of the traditional agency models,” says Rob Stokes, CEO of Quirk eMarketing, who built the Idea Bounty concept and website.

“We believe in the concept of an open ideas economy driven by incentive. Simply put, the better the reward, the better the quality of contributions”.

Brands benefit from Idea Bounty because they are able to actively engage with the global creative community. For a comparatively small sum, these companies can mobilise a virtual team of thousands to brainstorm creative ideas and choose the one they like best.

“Idea Bounty is a new way to think about the traditional model for purchasing creative output,” said Daniel Neville, MD at Idea Bounty. “We are able to bring together companies that are looking for disruptive, new ideas and some of the brightest minds in the creative world. It’s a great way for a brand to get value for money by engaging a connected audience to solve communication and brand problems with big ideas, and for individuals to be rewarded for their creative thinking.”

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