A Future “Giant” In Marketing? MagicBrief’s Co-Founder George Howes On $2M Pre-Seed Funding & Spotting A Gap In The Market

A Future “Giant” In Marketing? MagicBrief’s Co-Founder George Howes On $2M Pre-Seed Funding & Spotting A Gap In The Market

As far as George Howes (right), co-founder of creative marketing tech startup MagicBrief, is concerned, the days of creatives sitting in a room and mad-libbing their way to a campaign are gone.

“The way that creative is being made today, especially in the larger, more traditional pieces of advertising like creating a large-scale brand campaign with TVC and outdoor, it doesn’t have that really rapid feedback loop where you have to respond to the data that you see,” the former Eucalyptus creative director and Wieden+Kennedy London art director explained to B&T over a video call.

“It goes through this channel where you have a strategist, you’ve got multiple producers, the tooling for that is very different and probably sits closer to a product management tool rather than the tooling that is necessary to outpace your competitors when it comes to performance marketing.”

MagicBrief, in the mind of Howes and his fellow co-founder Dan Nolan (left in lead image) plus a litany of investors ranging from venture capitalist firms Blackbird VC and Archangel Ventures to Vimeo founder Zach Klein, is the missing puzzle piece from performance marketers’ toolboxes. Such is the belief that MagicBrief is the next big thing in the world of performance marketing, the company has raised $2 million in pre-seed funding to help grow the team and further develop its product. Presently, MagicBrief has six employees all based in Sydney.

The tech platform looks to roll three critical, but previously separate, elements of the creative process into a single platform. Brands can use its AI and social ad database to scour the internet for inspiration and best practice and then start to turn those insights into creative assets. They can also assign briefs to creators, writers, celebrities or anyone looking to endorse the product. Finally, they can bring brand assets and creative guidelines into one place — rather than being strewn throughout different Google Drive folders, for example.

“It does everything from insight through to a production-ready asset that you upload to one of the ad platforms,” said Howes.

“At the moment, we have insight that is helping people take the gem of an ad that works and dig deeper into why that asset actually performed. Then you have the structuring piece which is scripts and storyboards off the back of that where you work with a team to build those. Then we have the briefing element, which is taking the original inspiration and briefing that out whether it is a video or content creator or any internal or external vendor to help make that possible.

“Then we’re adding future elements at the moment and a new feature called MagicAI which can break down an asset into all of its key frames and start to give people more of an understanding of the structure of an asset.”

That AI tool component of MagicBrief is certainly the most eye-catching element of the platform — at least from the outside.

“It uses a range of technologies and what it does, at least in this current manifestation, is it looks at the asset in different ways. It tries to detect objects, transcribe the ad, look for characters on-screen that it recognises and it runs multiple layers of content analysis on top of it. It also looks for variants and pixel changes and starts to work out where the cuts are and provides a rendered view that we tag,” said Howes.

“We’re in rapid development of it based on all the feedback that we’re getting from customers — whether it’s the different assets that people use it on and where we can optimise it.”

The AI was trained on a set of manually curated set of ads — numbering around 25,000 — to give it a set of good ads to look at first. Of course, companies from Microsoft to Twitter and Reddit (as well as publishers such as News Corp) are starting to push back on AI companies using their assets and data to train their tools, at least for free, anyway. Howes, however, is not particularly worried about that.

“The bread and butter of our product relies on our own platform and our own tooling. So we’re fine for the most part. The API usage that we do, for the most part, there are multiple vendors that we can switch between so we’re not completely reliant on any one platform if they would charge a crazy price for usage,” he said.

MagicBrief, then, has a range of tools that would seemingly be perfect for tightly knit marketing teams working at pace. But the pricing structure (there’s a free version and a US$29 (AU$43) per month, per seat paid-for version) makes it accessible to all — something Howes wants to maintain even as the business scales.

“We are pretty early in terms of working through the product and features, it will be very different to what exists in even six months from now,” said Howes.

“We’re always going to have a way of pricing that supports individual contractors that aren’t necessarily part of an agency or bigger marketing team. I always want the tool to be accessible for them in the same way that they can use Figma as an individual or if they’re getting into performance marketing for the first time. But, as we onboard larger teams, we definitely will be doing enterprise deals.”

As it stands, the company has a range of clients mainly in the US despite being based in Sydney.

“It’s interesting how quickly it’s grown in those markets. For one, I think there are just a lot of direct-to-consumer brands in places like the States and the UK and the UK where the rate they have grown, and grown largely from performance advertising, and the sophistication they have means that they’re already looking for tools like this,” he said and noted that there are simply more advertising agencies in those countries compared to the company’s native Australia.

Howes said that the company will continue to onboard clients in those areas, there are no plans to set up an American office — at least not yet — requiring demo calls at “weird hours of the morning.” The expansion plans, however, would naturally require a broadening of that client base.

“We’ve got huge ambitions for the product,” said Howes.

“I’m really passionate about the idea that a modern marketer, or the modern marketing team, their tech stack would look like Shopify for point of sale. They would use MailChimp or Klaviyo to send emails and then MagicBrief to create the advertising and do that demand generation.

“We really do see the opportunity of how this can become a giant in the marketing space.”

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