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gen.video CEO Jessica Thorpe On Innovating In The Creator Economy

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gen.video CEO Jessica Thorpe on Innovating in the Creator Economy

gen.video, the influencer marketing startup led by CEO Jessica Thorpe, has rapidly established itself as an innovator bridging social media content creation and e-commerce sales.

gen.video CEO Jessica Thorpe on Innovating in the Creator Economy

Founded in 2016 alongside Co-Founder Bill Hildebolt, Boston-based gen.video has leveraged the founders’ expertise in advertising and social media marketing to help Fortune 500 brands navigate the fast-changing world of influencer partnerships.

“We’ve been living and breathing, working with YouTubers since 2006,” Thorpe begins, highlighting the depth of experience that sets gen.video apart in the industry. “gen.video is a tech-enabled agency that really sits at the center of social, commerce and video,” she explains, outlining the company’s unique position in the market. 

gen.video CEO Jessica Thorpe on Innovating in the Creator Economy

Leveraging Video to Transform Storytelling and Commerce

“We from day one have focused on video because of the power of the medium for storytelling,” Thorpe says. Her philosophy is that “great stories move people,” a belief that has shaped gen.video’s strategy from its inception. 

“We work with primarily fortune 500 brands or enterprise brands that are trying to reach consumers and sell their products within multiple retailers”, Thorpe explains. “What you get when you work with Gen Video is activations on the social platforms, with the ability to drive commerce outcomes within the retail channels that we have”. 

Under her guidance, gen.video has broadened its focus to encompass various retail platforms, including Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and even Instacart and Chewy, reflecting the evolving landscape of online shopping accelerated by the pandemic. This adaptability has opened new opportunities for a wider range of brands, from technology to groceries, to leverage influencer content effectively.

Thorpe’s commitment to innovation and her dedication to solving complex challenges have positioned gen.video as a unique player in a crowded market. “No one’s really focusing on leveraging video at the point of purchase besides us,” she states, highlighting the company’s niche in marrying social influence with direct commerce outcomes. 

gen.video CEO Jessica Thorpe on Innovating in the Creator Economy

Jessica Thorpe’s Blueprint for gen.video

“There’s no influencer company that exists today that can provide performance measurement for commerce outcomes,” Thorpe asserts, highlighting her initiative to bridge this gap by integrating upper funnel KPIs with critical lower-funnel metrics. “Being able to bring advanced measurement tools to brands around shopping behaviors is critical if they’re trying to understand which creative is working better for their brand.”

This approach also empowers influencers with data to negotiate fair rates and demonstrate their value more convincingly. She aims to democratize access to data and tools, ensuring that creators, talent managers, and brands can all benefit from enhanced transparency and efficiency. This initiative underscores her belief in the power of data to improve decision-making and foster more equitable partnerships between brands and creators. “ I think if we empower both sides, the data starts to flow better, and then you start to pick people from a discovery standpoint, not based on how many subscribers or followers people have”, Thorpe says. 

“We have brought together attribution data, affiliate performance data, and the typical metrics that you get from the APIs of the social platforms into one dashboard” she explains, “Which is providing real time analytics for brands to optimize in-flight and inform strategy for future work”, Thorpe concludes. 

Embracing Complexity in Influencer Marketing

“There’s been so much debate around if investments are going to continue to flow into the creator economy. Do creators really need tools? Have creators been neglected in the sort of tech landscape?” These questions are not just rhetorical for Thorpe; they are the catalysts driving gen.video’s mission to innovate and provide value in a sector that is often misunderstood.

Thorpe shares the realization that influencer marketing cannot be pigeonholed into a one-size-fits-all solution. The industry’s current infrastructure, as she describes, is overly linear and simplistic, failing to capture the complex realities of creating impactful content. “We’re obsessed with a workflow, and it’s like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and then you’re done. But the work is more messy than that,” she states, highlighting the intricate dance between creators, brands, and the myriad of professionals in between.

The challenge of existing platforms, according to Thorpe, is their failure to accommodate the diverse needs of influencers and brands. Much of the work, she notes, is still being conducted outside these platforms, in tools as rudimentary as Google Sheets and Excel. This disconnect signals a fundamental flaw in the current ecosystem, one that gen.video solves by combining services along with access to the best tools and technology needed for our clients, Thorpe asserts, underscoring the necessity of developing tools and services that genuinely meet the users’ needs. “We are really focused on understanding why that is still happening and addressing that with tools and services.” 

As she reflects on the future of gen.video, her excitement is palpable, “You need good services and people who are experts in both influencer marketing and using the tool to have great results. And so I’m super excited about where we’re going”.

Sharpening the Edge: Thorpe’s Strategic Approach to Growth

“One of the most gratifying ways we are growing is our old clients are taking us into their new companies! This is the best validation that the amazing work we do is transferable across brands and sectors,” Thorpe explains, emphasizing the importance of the organic growth that has characterized gen.video’s journey. “Our approach to winning new business and bringing onboarding new clients is very specific to make sure that we are providing a consultative approach. “

The addition of three senior leadership roles in the organization with diverse specialization in key areas is a cornerstone of Thorpe’s strategy. She mentions Bringing on Amy Vida, an EVP from the West Coast with a rich background in consumer electronics and gaming, as well as experience in global markets like APAC. “We’re bringing in some new leadership there,” she says, pointing to the strategic importance of a diverse and experienced leadership team.

Moreover, Thorpe discusses the hiring of a former Edelman, Larry Beaman professional who specializes in technology and measurement for influencer marketing. “We’re really making sure that measurement and tracking capabilities are core to everything we do with our clients,” she states, highlighting the operational focus on delivering tangible results.

“We hired someone from Amazon to oversee our client success team, Becky Young”, Thorpe adds. Expanding the leadership team, especially on the commerce side, is another critical element of Thorpe’s growth strategy. “The biggest thing for me is making sure that there’s amazing senior leadership so that our brands continue to entrust their business with us and give us the space to do great work with for them”, she says. 

Charting the Future: Jessica Thorpe’s Vision as CEO of gen.video

“This is sort of year one of me as CEO…the transition into CEO was to help us build for the future,” she states, emphasizing her commitment to innovation and adapting to the ever-evolving needs of brands. The goal is clear: to remain relevant and valuable to clients in a rapidly changing market.

Thorpe’s leadership is not just a new chapter in her professional journey but a pivotal moment for gen.video as it aims to redefine the influencer marketing landscape. “Brands are just scratching the surface with the potential of influencer marketing and the role it can play,” Thorpe states, highlighting a vision that extends far beyond conventional strategies and approaches. “I’m most excited about… taking a much more consultative role with our clients and helping them shape the strategy,” she explains, signaling a shift towards more integrated and insightful collaborations.

The ethos of gen.video under Thorpe’s leadership is characterized by a philosophy of growth and evolution. Taking a “first principles approach,” Thorpe and her team advocate for a methodical progression from foundational activities to more complex campaigns, ensuring that each step is calibrated for success. 

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Cecilia Carloni, Interview Manager at Influence Weekly and writer for NetInfluencer. Coming from beautiful Argentina, Ceci has spent years chatting with big names in the influencer world, making friends and learning insider info along the way. When she’s not deep in interviews or writing, she's enjoying life with her two daughters. Ceci’s stories give a peek behind the curtain of influencer life, sharing the real and interesting tales from her many conversations with movers and shakers in the space.

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