Thanks to the internet and social media, it's never been easier for companies to reach out to consumers. Companies like Starbucks and Dell, for instance, have set up crowdsourcing websites through which consumers can share ideas that may help them improve their products and services.
Insurance company Allstate is getting into the act too. But it doesn't want ideas from consumers. Instead, it's reaching out to a different group: media sellers.
If consumers have been eager to share their thoughts with the companies they buy from, you can be sure that media sellers will be even more eager to share theirs with Allstate. The company is interested in "[figuring] out how we stay above the noise level" and that means that media sellers with stand-out ideas have a chance to win Allstate's business. According to Allstate's VP of Marketing, Lisa Cochrane, "the door is not closed for 2010", hinting that Allstate is ready to act on compelling proposals. That's music to the ears of recession-worn media sellers, and will certainly get their creative juices flowing.
Allstate plans to use Allstateideaportal.com as a central hub for all of its interactions with media sellers, even though it will still be working with Leo Burnett and Starcom, its agencies. The fact that Allstreet will be making its shiny new toy an integral part of its media buying is probably a good thing. After all, it's easy to let these initiatives fall by the wayside.
The most important thing for Allstate may be that it has the motivation to make the most of Allstateideaportal.com. As AdAge notes, the company's marketing budget is small compared to its biggest competitors, so to compete effectively, Allstate will realistically need to get creative and take chances. If it does, and media sellers who use its new portal are rewarded in the process, Allstateideaportal.com may become a competitive asset for the company.
Which begs the question: how long will it take for other companies to make their media buying activities more open?