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Genero: Disrupting video production by connecting brands with creative teams on Google Cloud

About Genero

Genero is a creative platform that disrupts the traditional video production model by connecting brands and agencies with a vast network of professional creators around the world. Clients can use Genero to produce video and other content on a project basis or via an ongoing subscription model. Using a software platform purpose built for the end-to-end production process, Genero streamlines video production to help brands save time and budget, while producing high-quality content that brings in audiences. Genero’s clients span a wide range of industries including automobile, beauty, finance, FMCGs, drinks, and music.

Industries: Media & Entertainment
Location: Australia, Singapore, UK, USA, Brazil

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Genero modernized its platform to further streamline production so clients can manage briefs on the go, and creators can upload work and get it approved faster, making collaboration more efficient.

Google Cloud results

  • Saves up to 20 hours with automated scaling on Google Kubernetes Engine instead of manually provisioning servers
  • Reduces time to deploy new features and updates to Genero’s platform with automated code review via Cloud Build
  • Significantly improves site performance, enabling creators to upload content faster from anywhere in the world

Users can perform 100x faster video format conversions

Video content is an effective marketing tool. According to a study Google conducted with Ipsos, more than half of consumers say online videos helped them decide which specific brand or product to buy. That’s one reason why brands are creating more video content than ever to build brand awareness and attract customers. Many global brands turn to Genero to produce creative videos faster and at scale, in order to reel in audiences without exhausting their marketing budgets.

Genero is a creative platform that brands and creators can access to produce all types of video. Brands and agencies can use it to source professional creators and streamline the video production workflow, including briefing, setting a budget, commissioning creators, providing feedback and approval, and managing payments. Meanwhile, directors, filmmakers, producers, designers, editors, animators, writers, photographers, and other creators can access video briefs and work directly with global brands and musicians who are looking for content.

“We wanted the ability to develop future-proof cloud applications on a Kubernetes native platform that can continuously adapt to customer needs, and that’s what led us to Google Cloud.”

Jordan Patternott, Head of Product, Genero

As the Genero platform became more popular, it had to add more physical servers to accommodate user load. But as a monolithic application, its traditional backend stack, consisting of a Linux operating system, Apache web server, MySQL database, and PHP scripts, was limited by the physical machines in a hosted data center. The company needed to scale up efficiently to meet growing demand from clients and creators. That’s why, in 2019, Genero decided to move to a microservices ecosystem and modernize its technology stack on Google Cloud.

“Moving our technology stack to Google Cloud was a no brainer,” explains Jordan Patternott, Head of Product at Genero. “Our legacy infrastructure wasn’t able to dynamically handle frequent changes in user traffic. At the same time, we didn’t have access to cutting-edge technology like Kubernetes or machine learning to modernize our apps faster. We wanted the ability to develop future-proof cloud applications on a Kubernetes native platform that can continuously adapt to customer needs, and that’s what led us to Google Cloud.”

Photo shoot

Smooth migration to microservices and the Google Cloud ecosystem

To create its new, modernized platform, the product team rebuilt the front end of Genero.com with GraphQL and React and its mobile app as a React Native app for a consistent look and feel. The front end is one of the key web components developed as a microservice on Kubernetes. Other microservices include the upload system for creators to submit briefs and the video library that allows clients to store and search for owned assets.

“Moving away from a tightly knit monolithic application to a loosely coupled microservices architecture on Google Kubernetes Engine allows us to scale services independently,” says Jordan. “If we need to have downtime on a certain element of the site, we can do so without affecting other services. We improve system availability as we're not relying on one node or one element for a key part of our site.” Now that Genero doesn’t need to manually provision servers, its developers are saving between 10 to 20 hours of time per month. It’s time they can now spend adding real value to the business by building and enhancing product features.

Genero worked closely with the Google Cloud customer support team for its transition to the cloud over a period of 18 months, and says that the team was very hands-on throughout the selection and migration process. To reduce any disruptions from planned downtime, the team recommended a two-phased migration, which included building the React code front end and Node.js back end. Google Cloud learning resources such as hands-on labs on Google Cloud Skills Boost and technical documentation make it easy for Genero to train developers on how to optimize its new platform on Google Cloud.

Apart from Google Kubernetes Engine, Genero uses a suite of Google Cloud solutions on its platform to help clients and creators efficiently collaborate on video content. For example, developers use Firestore to store app data such as user actions in the cloud, and the Google Cloud operations tools to log and monitor cloud performance.

Genero uses Cloud DNS to route its new domain Genero.com to its Google Cloud instance, hosting DNS on global Google Cloud infrastructure to gain stability and performance. This also enables it to minimize downtime and disruption for creators and clients caused by data center outages, enabling them to keep their projects on schedule. And Genero’s users are noticing the difference, with one client citing the platform’s ease of use and agility as the key to creating a whole suite of assets in just a few weeks, while others commend the platform as “powerful” and “efficient.”

“Team members can quickly review code changes and new features, before going live, without relying on a walk-through by a developer or screenshots to explain. It all leads to a more robust development cycle, helping us to provide the best experience for creators and clients on our platform.”

Jordan Patternott, Head of Product, Genero

Helping developers roll out new features and updates faster

Software development at Genero used to be a tedious and time-consuming process. Developers had to check out the code on their local environments to test and review features. The product team shared screenshots or prototypes of new features to get feedback from key stakeholders. Genero now uses Cloud Build to automate testing and deployment of new features.

“By using Google Kubernetes Engine together with Cloud Build, we now create QA branches that can be accessed by anyone in the company,” says Jordan. “This saves us a lot of time in the code review process. Team members can quickly review code changes and new features, before going live, without relying on a walk-through by a developer or screenshots to explain. It all leads to a more robust development cycle, helping us to provide the best experience for creators and clients on our platform.”

Improving the Genero platform experience for creators

There’s no content creation without creators. Genero boasts of one of the largest creative networks in the industry. When clients post a brief on Genero with details for a video job, hundreds of creators may send in their pitches. Traffic spikes typically occur 24 to 48 hours, leading up to the entry deadline for client briefs. On larger briefs, the tech team would often need to troubleshoot speed or upload issues. Genero had to extend the deadline in some cases because the legacy platform struggled with the large number of videos submitted at the same time.

“Previously, scaling had to be preempted based on the deadline of a brief or website load based on marketing activities,” says Jordan. “It used to take an hour to provision new servers to handle the load. Our current infrastructure on Google Kubernetes Engine can automatically scale, which saves cost and time involved in provisioning additional resources.”

Upload speed has also been greatly improved. When creators upload their treatment to Genero’s platform, Google Cloud automatically routes traffic to the instance closest to the user to minimize lag. Google’s global infrastructure connects to more than 100 network points of presence across the world. “We’re confident that we can handle traffic spikes so creatives and clients can upload and view video assets on time,” shares Jordan.

The product team uses Google Cloud operations suite (formerly Stackdriver) for real-time insights into application performance. Operations simplifies performance management by storing, searching, and analyzing application logs from Google Cloud in a centralized location.

“On the legacy system, we faced queueing delays due to the lack of scaling of transcoding processes. Depending on file size and video length, video transcoding on Google Cloud now takes 5 to 30 seconds, instead of 5 to 30 minutes. That’s a significant time-saving for the creators and clients.”

Jordan Patternott, Head of Product, Genero

Genero uses helpful hints, known internally as “sparks,” to guide new creators through the onboarding process, such as creating a bio and uploading videos on the profile page. Using Cloud Firestore, the product team can track usage and see where users are dropping off. It makes the user journey smoother and simpler to complete, which in turn improves in-app experience and conversion. “Storing the data on Cloud Firestore offers visibility on how creators use our app so we can improve the platform,” says Jordan. “The NoSQL database is very easy to implement into the Genero platform on Google Cloud.”

To speed up post-production, Genero enhanced video uploads on the new platform, so creators don’t have to mail hard drives across the world. Using Cloud Storage, Genero can handle fast transfers of data, even if the files are 50 GB in size. Creators share video assets with clients on a dedicated project page on Genero.com, where clients can then view the file and leave timestamped feedback for revisions. Genero uses Cloud Functions to trigger a third-party video transcoding application, Coconut, to convert video files in real time for optimal viewing on web, mobile, and TV platforms.

“On the legacy system, we faced queueing delays due to the lack of scaling of transcoding processes,” says Jordan. “Depending on file size and video length, video transcoding on Google Cloud now takes 5 to 30 seconds, instead of 5 to 30 minutes. That’s a significant time-saving for the creators and clients.”

Transforming the way the Genero team and clients collaborate globally

Genero’s expanding team uses Google Workspace to collaborate on projects and work smarter across different time zones and locations; after all, video production relies on teamwork. While Genero might run a campaign that is being managed by its London office, its client servicing team for the same project could be working out of the Melbourne head office to oversee workflow and quality control across submissions. With Google Workspace productivity apps, these dispersed project members can work “side by side” in the Cloud. Using Google Chat and Google Meet, they can organize syncs to discuss project deliverables and timelines, brainstorm ideas, and avoid the miscommunications that can arise if these things don’t happen “face to face.” Meanwhile, with Docs, Sheets, and Slides, everyone on a project can contribute to documents in real time, improving on each other’s work and keeping to one true version.

“One project could involve two or three teams, perhaps across different markets. The collaboration solutions on Google Workspace are very helpful in keeping our clients and team members from different regions on the same page,” says Catherine Graves, Marketing Director at Genero.

“Google Workspace is intuitive and easy to pick up, even for new employees who used desktop productivity software in their previous jobs,” says Jordan. “Google Workspace and its suite of collaboration tools, especially Chat and Meet, help our business operate smoothly and stay connected during this time of disruption.”

Helping clients to find video assets faster with Video AI

Genero plans to roll out Video AI capabilities within six to twelve months’ time to make videos more searchable. On the back end, videos are stored in Cloud Storage. Cloud Functions is triggered to check the file and send it to Video AI for annotating. Video AI will write video annotations that are stored in a separate Cloud Storage bucket that can be searched using metadata from the API.

“We see a lot more brands asking for existing assets such as TV commercials that can be repurposed for different platforms such as social videos.” says Jordan. “Using Video AI to analyze videos on Cloud Storage, we can help clients look through their video library and find what they’re looking for.”

Genero stores 2.58 terabytes of video content on Cloud Storage on behalf of its clients. The API can automatically recognize more than 20,000 objects, places, and actions in Genero’s video library. Clients can easily look up a scene such as a video of a train at a railroad crossing with keywords such as “train,” “transportation,” and “railroad crossing.” Clients can maximize existing investment by repurposing content from the libraries of content.

Genero app

What’s next: Personalized client recommendations

“Our team ran a basic prototype of sentiment analysis using AutoML Natural Language on Google Cloud to learn client preferences,” says Jordan. “In the future, we can analyze the pitches from creators and recommend the top ones that match the client’s expectations.”

“We sometimes get more than 100 creative submissions for each client brief,” says Jordan. “Using AutoML Natural Language to filter out the treatments that best meet client requirements will help clients speed up the selection process.”

Genero also plans to use BigQuery to analyze previous briefs and treatments to find out how long it takes from concept to production. The client services team can identify creators in Genero’s community who are most suitable for a client brief based on their technical skills, location, and ability to meet deadlines.

“We’re exploring Cloud Run to run serverless workloads so we can iterate faster with no infrastructure management and easier auto-scaling,” says Jordan. “We’re looking to keep transforming the Genero experience to deliver more value to clients and creators, and we see Google Cloud playing a big part in that.”

Tell us your challenge. We're here to help.

Contact us

About Genero

Genero is a creative platform that disrupts the traditional video production model by connecting brands and agencies with a vast network of professional creators around the world. Clients can use Genero to produce video and other content on a project basis or via an ongoing subscription model. Using a software platform purpose built for the end-to-end production process, Genero streamlines video production to help brands save time and budget, while producing high-quality content that brings in audiences. Genero’s clients span a wide range of industries including automobile, beauty, finance, FMCGs, drinks, and music.

Industries: Media & Entertainment
Location: Australia, Singapore, UK, USA, Brazil