Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a “crowd”), through an open call.
Crowdsourcing is a distributed problem-solving and production model. In the classic use of the term, problems are broadcast to an unknown group of solvers in the form of an open call for solutions. Users—also known as the crowd—typically form into online communities, and the crowd submits solutions. The crowd also sorts through the solutions, finding the best ones. These best solutions are then owned by the entity that broadcast the problem in the first place—the crowdsourcer—and the winning individuals in the crowd are sometimes rewarded.
Crowdsourcing depends essentially on the fact that because it is an open call to an undefined group of people, it gathers those who are most fit to perform tasks, solve complex problems and contribute with the most relevant and fresh ideas.
The term has become popular with businesses, authors, and journalists as shorthand for the trend of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to achieve business goals. Crowdsourcing has attracted the attention of brand marketers as a way to engage customers using social media. Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign is one prominent example of a fully integrated and successful program. Doritos fans created their own advertisements for the chance to win a trip to the game, $25,000 cash, and the fame of creating a Super Bowl advertisement. In 2011, four consumer-created ads for Doritos and Pepsi Max ranked among the top ten in the USA TODAY Ad Meter.