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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.

As reported by AdAge, the U.S.-based insurer is launching Allstateideaportal.com, a portal through which media sellers can submit their best ideas to the company.

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?

Patricio Robles

Published 25 March, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2419 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

Robin Gurney

Robin Gurney, MD at CRE8ORS

Nice idea in principle, I would like to see more companies take this route. It will give smaller specialist players like us a chance of a foot in the door. However have you read Allstate's terms and conditions regarding idea submissions? here they are: ALLSTATE IDEA PORTAL SUBMISSION TERMS AND CONDITIONS By submitting your idea to Allstate Corporation ("Allstate") through the Allstate Idea Portal, you agree to the terms and conditions set forth below. * 1. The enclosed information is being submitted to Allstate on a non-confidential basis. As a result, no confidential relationship is established or is to be implied from Allstate's consideration of the enclosed information. Allstate is free to disclose the enclosed information and is under no obligation to maintain it as confidential. * 2. Allstate is not obligated to use my idea. * 3. To the best of my knowledge, the enclosed information does not violate a third party's patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights. Allstate will not be liable for any damages in connection with the submission of the enclosed information. * 4. Allstate has no obligation to return the enclosed information and may, at its discretion, destroy the enclosed information without further notice to me. * 5. I am at least 18 years old. * 6. I am the owner of the idea that is being submitted or else have the authority to submit the idea on the owner's behalf. * 7. Allstate is under no obligation to provide me with any information regarding its review, evaluation, or activities related to the enclosed information. Further, Allstate is under no obligation to respond to my submission or provide me with any information relating to decisions it makes regarding the enclosed information. err yeah right. I give you my ideas, you can share them with anyone, ignore me and presumably do what you want with them. Hardly inspiring, engaging or tempting. I think I will pass on this "opportunity".

over 6 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy


That's all fairly standard stuff. There's no way Allstate could run such a website without making it clear that submissions don't create any legal obligations on its part. In the absence of this, Allstate would be opening itself up to a potential lawsuit with every submission.

Further, because the website is really for media sellers, one would assume that the ideas being submitted revolve around media that the submitter is trying to sell. For instance, if I'm a media seller and I submit an idea for a marketing campaign, it would certainly revolve around inventory Allstate would need to buy from me if it liked the idea.

For media sellers who have more business than they know what to do with, of course, I'd agree with you that this may not be worthwhile. But I've never met a media seller not looking for new business and relationships. :)

over 6 years ago

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