Playe Launches In Australia To Solve “Worst Kept Secret” In Creative Industry

Playe Launches In Australia To Solve “Worst Kept Secret” In Creative Industry

Freelance creative marketplace Playe has launched in Australia, the UK, and across Europe following investment from Haymarket Ventures.

The marketplace aims to connect brands with a global network of creatives, it also provides cloud-based tools for collaboration. Plus, the company’s approach reduces the traditional costs and sustainability challenges associated with sourcing creative content from around the world.

Founders Jonas Espvall, Mitch Brown, and Rob Older created the company in 2021, having met during their time a previous employer.

“At the start of the pandemic we all came together from different angles,” said Brown.

“Jonas from operations at Google & Salesforce, myself from Adobe, and Rob from a decade of content creation. We came together to work on a gap we saw in the market between enterprise content teams and the rise of the freelance creative gig economy.

“COVID really accelerated a transformation in the creative industry. Lots of creative talent moved to the gig economy in pursuit of more flexible and lucrative work.”

Brown explained that working with freelancers had quickly become the industry’s worst-kept secret with individuals within agencies holding onto black books of creatives which were lost any time someone moved on.

“Traditionally, content creation outfits were set up to deal with a small number of high-value projects per year so with the big creative agencies, most of their customers were looking for one or two big TV commercials per year. When you’re doing that kind of work, it makes sense to have all this creative talent sitting on your books.

“Over the years, however, the content demands have changed. You’ve got all the new channels, everyone is trying to personalise content, and the scope of content is far more global. As a result, you need creative skill sets from all over world for these brands but agencies and organisations can’t afford to have them on their books.”

“It’s very rare now that we see agencies have these kind of content execution skill sets on their books full time or within their offices or studios. But no one is talking about that openly — everyone acts as if they’re all employed. We’ve heard some awkward stories when clients have had the same people turn up in different pitches with multiple agencies. That everyone is using freelancers for critical creative roles is the worst-kept secret.”

Playe has already attracted some big customers including McKinsey, Mr Yum, Bloomreach, and Catawiki. It’s most important customer so far, however, has been Haymarket. Its largest UK division, Haymarket Business Media, has been using the  platform and connecting with video content creatives in Germany and Singapore, for brands such as Windpower Monthly and C&IT.

Haymarket’s investment is also a strategic and collaborative partnership with the media group committing to two years of funding for Playe.

The size of the opportunity is vast, though difficult for Playe to pin down exactly.

“We tend to look at the opportunity globally — some figures suggest a $450 billion creative gig economy globally by 2023. It’s hard to quantify as there isn’t much transparency around how and when freelancers are being engaged,” said Brown.

To make money, Playe takes a small margin on larger volume projects, according to Brown.

“We have very few overheads as a business,” he explained.

The business also differs from freelance marketplaces such as Fiverr due to the size of projects businesses use it for.

“Brands working with us are typically looking to scale their creation capabilities and often in multiple locations. We’re finding a lot brands have got a lot of other work going on and may have a shoot coming up next week, we get fast turnaround briefs,” explained Older.

“We call those [the likes of Fiverr] matchmaking platforms,” added Brown.

“They are perfect for one-off projects but the nature of enterprise content creation is that demand is very frequent. When you’re dealing with that level of content demand, you can’t affod to be sourcing and working with new, unvetted people all the time.

“We refine the group of creatives that we work with, they’re all vetted. And a lot of the brands we work with are actually working with the same people over and over again. We enable a deeper and more managed relationship with these talented people.”

The vetting process, which according to Older is stringent to the point that the “top 5 per cent” of creators around the world are involved, is based on the brands Playe works with rather than any scoring system or metric.

“The best vetting ultimately comes from the experience of the teams we use. We’ve got recommendations coming through our own networks and have a layer of quality control over who is best suited to work on a given project. It’s actually a pretty close-knit community of people who all know and work with one another over the course of their careers.”

Playe, essentially, organises and makes managing existing relationships more efficient, plus it can help agencies find new, trusted talent quickly.

“The market has got to the point where everyone works with everyone — but that doesn’t scale very well. Most of the time, everyone is engaged on email or phone which is really inefficient.

“We see ourselves working hand-in-hand with agencies and brands to elevate their creative capabilities. They are already working with freelancers without a process and a platform to do it efficiently. That’s where we see ourselves coming in.”

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