Genero is a global video production marketplace started in 2009 by Australians, Mick Entwisle and Andrew Lane. Genero has offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore, and London.
What does Genero do and what led you to recognise this gap in the market?
We connect brands looking for video content with a global creative community of production companies, editors, animators, directors, creative directors, writers, etc. A client posts a brief, filmmakers pitch their creative ideas with examples of their work, the client selects the best idea and filmmaker and then works with them to have the videos produced. They do that via a cloud hosted software platform.
I met the other founder, Andrew Lane, when we were both at uni studying marketing. We saw that the marketing world would change massively with audiences shifting online and spending more time in social media. We had to reimagine what marketing was and what was going to be more effective. My view was we were going to need a lot more video content to keep people engaged.
I worked at Seek and saw the impact that a software solution and marketplace model could have in improving efficiency for both buyers and sellers. We’re approaching the content marketing and advertising industry in the same way and trying to provide a better solution.
What is the value proposition for marketers and creatives?
Most marketers know that they need to be producing more video content to be effective. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, publishers, outdoor – everything is moving to video.
Most marketers will say their marketing budgets are shrinking or they at least need to stretch a lot further. Their challenge is that they can’t get video produced at scale, quickly and affordably through their existing agencies.
We provide them with an agile video production solution – access to a huge creative pool and a software platform that makes it so easy to go from a brief to finished video content within days or weeks, shot locally or from anywhere in the world.
For creatives, we see the industry moving in the same direction as so many industries towards freelancing and flexible work, or the gig economy.
It's a great time to be a filmmaker – there’s more video – but also more competition.
We provide creatives with the power to take control of their own careers and give them access to work they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. To work on brands and ideas they’re passionate about, not because they have to. It’s free to join Genero and they’ll instantly have access to great briefs from global brands.
Creative agencies use Genero too, don't they? How does that partnership work?
We do a lot of work through agencies. There's a pretty big gap in the market where brands are looking for much larger volumes of shorter video content at cheaper prices, but agencies aren't able to produce that and still make money, given the model they use, large overheads, etc. So a lot of agencies are looking to offer a much more agile production solution to their clients. Some of them use our platform to power their production model. Some of them use us for very specific things like where they might need footage shot in four different cities around the world within days, and we've got filmmakers everywhere. A lot of them outsource production anyway, and we give them access to a really big pool of young Australian creative talent, for fresh creative ideas and to work with new people.
What is the scale of the creative community you've built?
We've got filmmakers in every corner of the globe. Most of them are freelance filmmakers and directors, and we have animators, editors, motion graphics designers, those sorts of people. We've 300,000 filmmakers on Genero and across all social media, so it's a big community. Globally there are so many creative people out there, the difference now is access to equipment to create very high quality video content. It used to require massive kits and big crews, now the camera technology is much cheaper, you don't need helicopters, and the editing software and computer technology is making the whole thing so much easier.
Online marketplaces like Genero will democratise supply but is there a danger that Australian creatives may be substituted for cheaper overseas alternatives?
Some marketplaces do drive down cost that way but it’s different with video compared to other things like web design or logo design. Genero is more about finding the best creatives for your brief. If an Australian brand wants video content for local Australian audiences they’re going to work with Australian creatives who understand the brand and culture, understand the humour, with Australian locations and who can source Australian talent.
Equally though, if a brand is looking for content to engage an audience in Vietnam or in Africa, they’re better off working with a local team. Bottom line is that video should be getting much cheaper. It’s so much easier to create. For most jobs you don’t need huge crews, helicopters, massive edit suites etc.
Even with editing and animation where it doesn’t matter where the person is located – we have incredible editors and animators - most of that is actually produced in the UK, Western Europe, Australia and the US. It is still a lot cheaper than brands are used to paying, because the brand isn't having to cover overheads like expensive rent, big edit suites, underutilised staff costs etc.
What are the most common types of content marketers are producing?
It’s a huge range from very short, simple animation through to TV commercials, but mostly all forms of video for online advertising and social media. There’s also ‘How to’ and explainer videos, we do a lot of work in travel, we re-shoot existing ads for different markets or for mobile and we do branded content - short films and documentaries.
What are the creative implications of the growing consumption of video on mobile?
Mobile is a very different experience to watching something on a computer screen or on a television. The content needs to be specifically designed for mobile, for example, vertical video for Snapchat. Instagram just released Instagram ads in Stories, which are full screen vertical ads. So it's really about making content specific for the device, otherwise it's not effective at all. What we see a lot more of is brands coming to us with existing assets, whether that's a TV commercial or longer form content, and getting it re-imagined for a different channel, platform, or for mobile.
The Genero model is to work alongside agencies, marketers, and creative freelancers, what are the skills marketers and the advertising industry will need in the future to get the most out of these partnerships?
I think it's more about a mindset, having an open mind to new ways of working, collaboration, technology, etc. The industry has changed so much within a short amount of time that unless people are willing to adapt, they're just going to be left behind.
What we see is a trend where clients require much closer collaboration between creative and media in order to produce content for so many different platforms and for so many different audiences. The industry as a whole is looking for ways to collaborate, even sometimes with their competitors, so they can offer a much better solution to clients.
What advice would you give marketers who are looking to bulk up their owned media?
There are a few key principles to be able to do it effectively. One is they need to produce content regularly, they need to have a constant presence on social media platforms. They need to be using video, that's way more effective than print and text posts. Soon there will be no real estate within social news feeds for anything except video content. The other thing is, create content for different audiences, different platforms and channels. It's a cluttered marketplace and if they're not creating content that people want to watch and share, then it just won't get viewed. That requires a really detailed understanding of audience behaviour - where they're consuming content, where they're spending time - obviously using all the traditional things around demographics, cultural influences, data analytics and research.
Do you see any blurring amongst filmmakers about the type of work they do?
There's a huge amount of blurring between the types of content people are creating and also their skillsets. In the past someone would be pretty specific in terms of being an editor or being a camera operator or a director of photography (DOP) or a director. Now we see a lot more blurring between those roles, where someone can direct, shoot, edit, do their own effects etc. The technology's allowing them to broaden their skills so much easier than in the past. Also, we see a lot of filmmakers who might be creating a TV commercial, then they're doing a really short video for someone, then they might be doing a music video. So there's really a big blurring between roles and skills.
What is your business model?
For most clients, Genero is free to use and we take a percentage of the budget that goes through the platform, so clients know how much of their budget we're taking and how much is going to the filmmaker. A small number of agency clients licence the platform to use with their external clients and then we work with them closely on integrating into their systems.
You're an innovative Australian platform company, having operated for eight years. What are your biggest learnings so far?
We've learned a huge amount across a whole range of things. We didn't want to build a business in Australia and then try to take it overseas, we felt the market was a bit too small and it might look like the model didn't work, when we were very confident it would work. So we straightaway hopped on planes and went to the US, the UK, and Singapore, and built our network. We started working with brands and music artists in those countries and proved the model. We've been able to build a global business that way, and that was one of the best decisions we made.
The other learning is around capital raising. We funded the business for a long time ourselves, but then to grow it the way we wanted to, we had to raise money, and through that process we learned a lot. We've learned what investors are looking for, and about bringing new people into the business who maybe have different objectives from other shareholders, and different objectives from you as founders. That whole process of managing capital raising and shareholders takes a great deal of time and can be a distraction from running the business.
What do you see as the future for content marketing in Australia?
We definitely see it as being all about video. Everything is shifting to video - outdoor advertising, publishers, all of the online platforms. It will definitely involve technology, a lot more technology. I guess the big question is, who's actually going to be creating that content? Creative agencies? Are they going to offer more agile production solutions for their clients? Is it going to be clients bringing it in-house so that they're much closer to their creative and able to respond quicker with content that is relevant to whatever is happening out in their market? Or is it going to be media agencies who have a really deep understanding of the audiences and the platforms and the way people are consuming content on those different platforms? That’s a big question but it will definitely be about video.