Innovative new research at the UNSW Business School has shown how companies can gain a competitive edge when running crowdsourcing contests, and how they can cut down on the number of useless entries.

“Only one in ten entries in ‘creative’ crowdsourcing contests are any good, and stand any chance of being of value,” said Paul Patterson, a professor of marketing at UNSW Business School. “If you ask members of the public to submit videos, for example to promote your product, most of them will be terrible. Sadly, most participants will have gone to a lot of effort making dross, and 90% of entrants are wasting their time.”

“We wanted to work out how crowdsourcing for a creative advertising campaign could create value to the company & participants and, how companies might go about identifying the right people to make a submission.”

The company can isolate the entries they want in the contest and not worry about the 90% of terrible submissions, which is the large, hidden cost to crowdsourcing.

The research study led by Professor Patterson, along with colleagues Bhuminan Piyathasanan from Thammasat Business School in Thailand, and Christine Mathies, a senior lecturer at UNSW Business School examined an advertising campaign created by consumers of a brand.

A questionnaire-based scale was used to identify people with high innovative cognitive style.

“And it is those people with a high innovative cognitive style that you want to enter - they are the ones who create something useful from the crowd which is worthwhile considering as a winner.

The study found participants with high creative process engagement (which is a way of measuring for the time & effort they put in), or with a creative identity, surprisingly didn’t produce great results. Instead those who had fresh perspectives on old problems, coping with several new ideas and problems at the same time, had a high innovative cognitive style, and did better.

“By checking these, out of 300 submissions, you only need to look at 30 of them - and one of those is the winner. It’s clear to be a winner, you have to have a high innovative cognitive style.”

Further details of the research are at How to avoid sourcing dross from the crowd

For comment please contact Paul Patterson on 02 9385 1105 or

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