Are ad ideas becoming a commodity?

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Want your dealership to have a new advertising approach? How about tapping the creative talent of ad men around the globe? It could happen, because the Internet is enabling businesses looking for creative ad ideas and creatives from virtually anywhere in the world to meet on the open market.

I was flying on easyJet (a low-cost airline in Europe) last week when I opened their in-flight magazine and found a story by Josh Sims about OpenAd, billed as the world’s first online ad marketplace. I found the concept fascinating.

In essence, the Internet provides the means — in the same way it has for services offering stock photos or social networks like MySpace — while OpenAd.net provides the system. Companies subscribe to the Web site, place an outline for a desired campaign on it, and ad creatives around the world offer their ideas. There’s also a section on the site dubbed the Gallery that features a selection of ideas broken down by business categories. Yes, there’s Boat category.

The co-founders of OpenAd are Slovenians Vital Verlic and Katarina Skoberne. Their concept is unique but simple. She calls it a “no-brainer: It’s just selling work by creative professionals worldwide to companies worldwide.”

Reportedly, the site has attracted some 11,000 creatives. “The initial reaction was, ‘You can’t have just anyone deliver a solution in advertising,’ but it turns out you can,” says Skoberne. “Creatives in India or Latvia are competing on an equal footing with those in the U.S. or U.K. And an idea may be produced by an amateur, but it’s never an amateur standard. It’s not someone using powers of persuasion to tell you their idea alone is genius.”

One of the unique aspects of OpenAd is that it sells a license to use the creative’s work rather than the work itself, as is traditional. “It’s like buying a piece of music, not the artist’s studio time,” says Skoberne.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle OpenAd faced when it started up in 2003 was how to ensure that a creative’s ideas wouldn’t be taken without appropriate remuneration and to convince the creatives to offer high-quality ideas when they feared they might be stolen. According to Skoberne, everything is highly monitored, and OpenAd screens subscribing firms for their respect for intellectual property.

Is this all making advertising a commodity? I don’t know. For example, the costs vary depending on what a subscriber wants, i.e. completely new ideas or just selecting something from the Gallery. Plus, the creative sets the ultimate license fee for a particular work. Moreover, having a great idea doesn’t guarantee success. Truth is, a good idea will ultimately only be as effective as the implementation. It’s how you make it work that will count.

Still, the possibility that you could have worldwide talent working on an ad idea for you is interesting, to say the least, and another sign of the global business environment we’re living in today. Click here to check out the OpenAd Web site.

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