An Evaluation of Crowdsourcing as a Tool  for Marketing Activities

University dissertation from Luleå : Luleå University of Technology

Abstract: Advances in technology and social media have facilitated the rapid development of crowdsourcing as an innovative tool within the field of marketing. This has driven researchers to investigate more deeply the phenomenon of crowdsourcing as a marketing innovation. The overall purpose of this thesis is expressed as: To explore and describe the use of crowdsourcing within the field of marketing. More specifically, the primary purpose of the thesis is to understand better - How crowdsourcing can be used as a marketing tool. This thesis aims to illuminate the gap in the extant marketing literature by reviewing current academic knowledge surrounding crowdsourcing and marketing.  The use of the crowd as a marketing tool is growing primarily because of the advent of the Internet; however, as technology continues to advance the possibilities, challenges and side effects of crowdsourcing also change. These also need to be investigated continually. More specifically as digital marketing moves from a Web 2.0 environment to a Web 3.0 environment there will be new opportunities as well as pitfalls. As a result, new and relevant marketing problems exist at the nexus of crowdsourcing and marketing.The research problem is sub-divided into the following four research questions:RQ1:  To what extent are crowdfunding platforms accessible to organizations as a marketing channel and, if so, what role can these platforms play?RQ2:  How will the shift from Web 2.0 (and active-user input) to Web 3.0(and passive-data/sensor–based input) impact the new opportunities/product development process?RQ3:  How can user-generated content help firms make strategic decisions about new business opportunities? RQ4:  How is the evolution of crowdsourcing impacting information externalities and consumer privacy and how is this impacting marketing? This research is further divided into two sections. The first part investigates marketing activities specifically new opportunities/product development, advertising and promotion, and marketing research. The second section focuses on one of the possible repercussions of crowdsourcing in the marketing process. Most research on crowdsourcing focuses on the first section (i.e., the marketing activities) and how crowdsourcing is a positive marketing tool. Much less research aims its attention on the consequences and/or potential negative aspects of crowdsourcing.This thesis consists of two published papers and two studies. Each project handles one of research questions. The first two papers and the first study focus on three marketing activities (i.e., advertising, promotion and sales, new product and service development, and market research). The second study focuses on one of the possible consequences of the growth of crowdsourcing as a tool in the marketing process.While each paper and study has its own individual contributions, the overall contribution of this study is multi-fold. First, it develops a definition of crowdsourcing as: a tool or process by which the firm can increase or expand the resources to which it has access to by using the collective effort of a group of individuals or organizations. Second, as a result of these four research projects, crowdsourcing can further be seen as a situational, contextual and flexible tool that can be used in many different organizational contexts. The specific context for this thesis is marketing and as a result, crowdsourcing can play a wide variety of marketing roles.