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The Impact of Crowdsourcing Contests on Investment Decisions [Insights]

The Impact of Crowdsourcing Contests on Investment Decisions [Insights]

Zixia Cao, Hui Feng and Michael Wiles

Crowdsourcing contests for marketing ideas such as new ads, graphics, and products have become popular based on the premise that no one is smarter than everyone. For example, PepsiCo asked consumers to create videos promoting Doritos in its “Crash the Super Bowl” ad contest, Fossil crowdsourced new packaging ideas, and Ben & Jerry’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest asked the public to create a mouthwatering ice cream flavor.

At the same time, many firms remain unsure about whether these contests pay off with investors and about the worth of their contest design choices. In a new Journal of Marketing study, we provide the first comprehensive examination of the stock market effects of these contests and, crucially, of the contest characteristics that may enable such contests to pay off.

We define a marketing ideation crowdsourcing contest (or MICC) as an open tournament-based call for ideas and solutions for marketing-related problems. In an MICC, a firm first broadcasts a call describing the marketing problem to be solved and any rules for the contestants. The firm then collects the submissions of possible solutions, evaluates those submissions using an expert panel or through crowd voting, and rewards the chosen contest winners. Typical MICCs include (1) promotion-focused crowdsourcing contests to develop ideas and solutions involving ads, logos, slogans, or package designs and (2) contests to conceptualize new product ideas.

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Investors Have a Mixed View

Although these marketing ideation crowdsourcing contests can send positive signals to facilitate returns, we find that investors have a mixed view of them. These contests pay off with investors because they can create closer connections with consumers and can generate valuable new ideas that signal growth opportunities for the firm. However, they can also elevate the firm’s idiosyncratic risk because they make the brand’s future direction less clear. Results from an event study of 508 marketing ideation crowdsourcing contest announcements reveal that such contests significantly raise a firm’s stock price by .18% on average but also significantly increase idiosyncratic risk by .15%.

Results from an event study of 508 marketing ideation crowdsourcing contest announcements reveal that such contests significantly raise a firm’s stock price by .18% on average but also significantly increase idiosyncratic risk by .15%.

There remains a lack of understanding of how to design profitable crowdsourcing contests, particularly in terms of finding the “right crowd” and doing it “the right way.” Firms need to decide if they should invite external professionals or the general public for the contest and if they should rely on crowd voting or an expert panel to decide on the winner. Firms also need to choose how broadly to scope the task and whether to use the contest to develop new products or for promotion ideas.

We found that firms’ stock returns increase when the contest is targeted at professionals, when it includes crowd voting, and when the task has a specific scope. Returns further strengthen when contest design choices and the firm’s stated contest objective are aligned (i.e., when the firm states its goal is consumer engagement and its contest has crowd judging, as this empowers consumers). However, we find that the stock price bump does not differ between product-focused versus promotion-focused marketing crowdsourcing contests.

Lessons for Chief Marketing Officers

In addition, we explore the question, “for which firms do marketing ideation contests create more shareholder wealth?” Results show that brands’ relevant stature positively affects the stock market performance of MICCs, whereas brands’ energized differentiation—which is the brand’s uniqueness and ability to stand out from competition as well as its ability to meet future consumer needs—has a negative effect. Stock returns are also higher for smaller firms and those with strong brand awareness from advertising.

However, these contests can also create investor uncertainty. Investors may not be clear why firms turned to the crowd for such essential marketing tasks or what precisely the crowd will come up with. We find that these contests increase firm idiosyncratic risk, providing the first evidence of such contests’ downsides with investors. In addition, we find that investor uncertainty is heightened when it comes to task-related contest features (i.e., generally-scoped contests and contests to generate new product ideas).

Our findings provide valuable insights for chief marketing officers:

  • Firms can now be more confident that their time and monetary investment on MICCs lead to increased stock returns. However, managers also need to consider that MICCs increase idiosyncratic risks.
  • Contests targeting professional participants result in higher value and lower risks than MICCs targeting the general public. Involving the crowd in voting enhances the contest’s abnormal returns and also enhances buzz.
  • Specific contests have higher returns and lower risks than more general contests, and promotion contests provide more favorable effects on risk than new product ideation contests.

In sum, marketers can be more strategic when designing their marketing crowdsourcing contests to enhance their firms’ shareholder wealth.

Read the Full Study for Complete Details

From: Zixia Cao, Hui Feng, and Michael A. Wiles, “When Do Marketing Ideation Crowdsourcing Contests Create Shareholder Value? The Effect of Contest Design and Marketing Resource Factors,” Journal of Marketing.

Go to the Journal of Marketing

Zixia Cao is Associate Professor of Marketing, University of Colorado Denver, USA.

Hui Feng is Associate Professor, Iowa State University, USA.

Michael Wiles is Associate Professor, Arizona State University, USA.