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As Fiverr ramps up its marketing plans, can it keep up with an exploding freelance sector?

Fiverr's CMO on its first Super Bowl spot: ”we’re aspiring to be one of the biggest brands”

It’s almost been a year since desks were deserted. With ambitions to become ”the lynchpin of the gig economy,” Fiverr has built a lot of territory since the pandemic began. However, it is now under siege in the freelance space from the likes of LinkedIn. Its chief marketing officer, Gali Arnon, and general manager of its new platform, Amir Guy, share Fiverr’s empire-building plans as it strengthens its grip on the marketing industry.

“We’re where e-commerce was 20 years ago,” insists chief marketing officer Gali Arnon on Fiverr’s long-term potential.

“The market keeps evolving exponentially,“ she explains. “More and more people are joining the freelancer sector because it works for them. They like the flexibility, the agility, the ability to choose their own time on their own terms.“

A pioneer in the future of work, in 2020, Fiverr played a critical role, as the working world learned to do things remotely. “In the last year, the future of work became the present,” Arnon insists. “For years we’ve been preaching that talent is global. That you can collaborate across the globe, create amazing projects together, from different countries from the comfort of your studio, a home office, a coffee shop – it all became a reality overnight.”

Within weeks of offices shutting doors, Fiverr says it noticed not only an increase in creative talent using its platform, but a greater demand for their services. With businesses forced to move from offline to online, areas like website building, digital marketing and SEO were in hot demand, just as freelancers and people out of work were looking to the platform to compensate their income.

And as a result, it scaled its marketplace significantly throughout the year, concluding 2020 with accelerated growth. Its revenue grew 89% year-on-year to $189.5 million, while active buyers grew to 3.4 million, compared to 2.4 million the year prior (45% increase).

Off the back of this success, last month saw it showcase its first-ever Super Bowl spot, introducing its digital platform to the biggest TV ad event of the year. The funny spot poked fun at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping debacle, where Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani staged a post-election press conference in its car park after it was mistakenly booked instead of the glitzy hotel chain.

”We started testing TV in the US last year and found it’s actually very successful, as we can actually measure it,” Arnon explains. ”Together with an ambition to be a household brand led us to the decision that the Super Bowl was the right stage for us and it was the right time. We’re aspiring to be one of the biggest brands.”

While Arnon feels confident that new working trends will continue in a post-pandemic world, Fiverr is also aware of competitors encroaching on the space – most notably LinkedIn. Microsoft is building on the jobs platform by developing a new service called ’Marketplace’ that will allow its 740 million users to find and book freelancers. And the news caused Fiverr's shares to drop 12%.

”It gets more competitive the more people understand the huge potential of this market - and just how immense it is,” Arnon admits. Indeed, the projected gross volume of the gig economy was just under $300 billion in 2020 and is projected to rise to more than $450 billion by 2023.

”But we are confident in our ability to lead this market. Fiverr has 11 years of deep understanding. We are hyperfocused on growth, on technological innovation, on expanding internationally, and vertically spending on businesses,” she asserts.

Part of its plans includes bringing the brand into the multi-billion dollar marketing industry. At the beginning of last month, it announced it had snapped up Working Not Working – a talent platform that sources freelance creatives for the likes of Google, Netflix, Spotify, Droga5, and Wieden+Kennedy. Following the Fiverr tie-up Working Not Working will continue to operate as a standalone entity under the leadership of Justin Gignac and Adam Tompkins.

However, responses to the acquisition of Working Not Working from creatives point to potential trouble ahead. Alarmed by the news, some users came out in solidarity against Fiverr’s race-to-the-bottom business model, which they claim drives down prices. Gignac encouraged people to get in touch to chat about it.

Beyond the Working Not Working acquisition, it is also opening a new platform, to be named at a later date, designed to help corporate brands and agencies to engage and manage project teams, working with leading CMOs and creatives from the ad and marketing industry.

Fiverr has billed the expansion drive as a desire to ‘expand solutions to meet the needs of today’s big brands and agencies’. Amir Guy, Fiverr's general manager who will head up the new, yet-to-be-named platform says: “we talk about the future of work – the mission is to build a platform that will define the future of work for our industry.

“The ad industry has gone through disruption in the past few years. It has become harder to be efficient and to excel because the economic models are breaking.

“As work becomes more and more project-based, the new platform is a way to enable agencies to move more of their work to an on-demand basis,“ he explains, pointing to the industry trend to steer away from retainers while preserving core teams.

Fiverr, therefore, hopes to capitalize off this trend, positioning its new platform as the solution to the ad industry’s pain points, as the industry evolves the way it works.

“The market is growing exponentially and Fiverr will lead it,“ insists Arnon. “Throughout 2021, we keep on innovating on all fronts, from our products, technologies, marketing and companies acquisitions. We are very focused on growth.“

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