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January 12, 2022updated 30 Sep 2022 10:55am

Agency Newsflare doubles down on UGC with £5m investment

By Andrew Kersley

User-generated content distribution agency Newsflare has raised £5m in funding to help it become “the household name for where you take your video if you’ve just captured something fantastic”.

The new capital injection is led by the Foresight Group and long-term Newsflare backer Edge Investments.

Chief executive Jon Cornwell (pictured) co-founded Newsflare in 2011, initially supplying video content to a handful of local newspaper websites. The company says that since then 1,300 media organisations have licensed content from them.

“We’re where you go if you want to make money from your video and you want it to reach a wider audience than it might do organically on existing social platforms,” explains Cornwell.

“We operate mainly via a licensing marketplace, which is a bit like Getty Images for UGV [user generated video]. And we do that through curated channels and on social platforms.”

Users upload their videos to the site and take a 45% share of any revenue made when the videos are licensed by publishers or from ad revenue made when the videos are posted direct by Newsflare to its various channels on Youtube, Snapchat and Facebook.

The company says it saw 30% year-on-year annual revenue growth in the years running up to the pandemic. This fell to 5% in the year to April 2021, Newsflare said – but it did avoid resorting to furloughs or redundancies.

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Revenue over the last 12 months was near to £5m, the company said, with a   47-strong team spread between London, LA, New York and Bulgaria. In the next 18 months they plan to increase that team to 100.

“The creator economy is becoming a very fashionable term for individual media creation,” says Cornwell. “We saw this all coming ten years ago when we founded the company… And now this really feels like our moment.”

[Read More: The rise of video agency Newsflare – ‘when we started, papers had massive picture desks but no-one doing video’]

One aim of the new funding is to grow the global footprint of Newsflare, including in South-East Asia, with plans to open a Singapore office.

It’s part of an attempt to build up their market share in a sector that has become increasingly crowded – companies like ViralHog, Jukin Media and Storyful compete with Newsflare, as do publishers themselves.

With that heightened competition and as more user generated content is created, Cornwell says the company is also aiming to improve its tech offering to help streamline both the process of licensing and selecting videos for publication and uploading to the platform.

Alongside improvements to their Trust Algorithm, a proprietary technology that automates obtaining rights clearance on user videos, another focus of their new funding will be building a system to gamify  tip-offs.

The company’s aim is to create an automated system that asks people to recommend good videos to the site (even if they aren’t their own) and pays them if the video is eventually licensed for distribution.

The final focus of the company for the next few years is curating its own social media presence.

It operates social media channels as sub-brands with names like “Whoa That Was Wild” which generate direct advertising revenue for the company. Collectively these channels are said to attract 1.3bn views annually.

“The trajectory is that revenue on our channels was doubling year on year for about three years with a team of just two people,” says Cornwell. “And it got to about approaching a million pounds a year, then we just said, Look, we really need to put some wood on this fire.”

“We talk about BHAGs – or big, hairy, audacious goals,” explains Cornwell. “The BHAG for Newsflare is to be the household name for where you take your video if you’ve just captured something fantastic.”

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