What are creative markets?

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Normally, when we think about the term “markets” we think in terms of verticals, TAM (Total Addressable Market), CAGR (Cumulative Annual Growth Rate) and future expected market size.

But how do you value creativity?

As the world turns more and more towards automation and generative technologies (Gen AI), more and more “traditional” skill sets will be commoditized. With that commoditization comes decreased wages and increased competition for high-paying jobs and contracts.

But creativity is the one dimension of the human experience that can’t be commoditized. It is also difficult to quantify, as there is really no such thing as a CQ (Creative Quotient) like there is IQ to measure intelligence.

Yet one spark of creativity can impact the hearts and minds of hundreds, thousands, and millions of people.

So rather than qualify “creative markets” as something official and standardized, let’s look at the markets where creative individuals can typically make their marks.

The overarching umbrella market is the global Content Marketing Market, which is worth about half a $Trillion and growing at clip of over 16%.

‘Content Marketing,’ however, encompasses many types of content creation that are not inherently creative, and in certain ways could be replicable by the machines.

Within it, several purely creative subsegments exist that we explore in more detail below.

Visual Media

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Visual Media can cover a lot of different areas, especially with the fusion of different genres of media to create gifs, memes, animations, and other forms of viral content.

It is no longer just photography or siloed disciplines.

Talented meme’rs and gif’ers, for example, can make millions in certain segments of the market.

Animations are becoming more and more commonplace in everyday app experiences, as companies try to make their products or services more fun or user friendly.

Future openings around AR (Augmented Reality) will create a big market for 3D visuals.

NFT or Digital Art can enable the fusion of physical and digital media into new and creative formats that people on both sides of the screen (digital & physical) can interact with.

The best proxy of this market is the Visual Content market, which by a basket of estimates is worth somewhere between $20 – 40 Billion.

This includes infographics, images, videos, and any other major visuals that brands use.

It is expected that about one third of companies will spend more than half of their marketing budget on visual content this year. It is a “very important” component of the strategy for the majority of companies.

For those same brands – on a scale of 1 – 10 (most difficult) – 7 is the average difficulty score in creating this type of content.

That means that there is a significant untapped need, even still, in the Visual Media market.

Photography

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In some ways, the inception of the stock photography market has commoditized photography; yet in others, it has shown what a true art form real photography is, creating soaring demand for boutique photographers.

We have looked at the different parts of the photography value chain in the past.

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From Boutique to Shoot & Burn, there are different models of photography.

Wedding photography is still in high demand, and it is hard to see would-be brides and grooms turning to AI to shoot their precious day.

In other areas of high-touch customer experiences, stock photos look obvious and tacky. Adding AI photos to these touchpoints will equally be detectable over time by consumers in most cases.

Photography is a market that is valued at more than $30 Billion, including some overlap between commercial and stock photography.

It is a market that will be remade in many ways in the years ahead, but the most talented photographers will still be rewarded bountifully.

Web Design

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Design may be the one area that becomes more valuable as generative technologies and automation scale.

If everything theoretically becomes more efficient to execute across all layers of the business, then to keep that business companies will need to continually invest in designers to make sure the customer experience stays consistent and that the brand image remains strong.

From physical retail experiences, to purely digital e-Commerce experiences, and everything in between, design is really going nowhere.

But not everyone is a designer. Design is a skill that is in some ways nature (born with it), and other ways nurture (developed over time).

The demand for the highest level of designers is massive. ‘Web Designer Services’ is a market valued above $40 Billion.

Influencer Videos

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Video is the way forward in many ways in the digital space. Shoppable video and other key social commerce trends will push more and more brands – big and small – to produce more and more video content.

But who are the real stars of the video “show?”

  • The influencers and creators who can get on video and drive traffic, engagement, and commerce with their videos?
  • Or the videographers and editors who can take virtually any type of video clip and make it magic?

Both types of skillsets are required to make high-quality video content, especially with the variety of different requirements across social media, websites, or even in-store.

Video is another vertical market that would fall within ‘visual media; a fusion of multiple, overlapping types of skillsets, some of which are very natural (such as being good on camera) and others that require years of training (editing and producing video).

The Influencer Marketing market is worth approximately $24 Billion, a good proxy for ‘Influencer Videos’ and in line with the other subsegments listed above.

Creative Markets as a Whole

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As a whole, Creative Markets are really markets where those with a creative skillset are able to monetize it as they see fit.

We estimate Creative Markets are worth $130 Billion, collectively.

Whether that be videos on social media, creating shoppable content, meme’ing narratives, creating those cute little gifs we see everywhere, or building futuristic 3D content models.

All of these fit under the umbrella of ‘Creative Markets,’ and these markets are incredibly valuable to both large brands and small independent operators.

The market for raw creative talent is exponential, yet we seem to be reaching a crossroads in the global market.

No longer is it just major studios and agencies who can commandeer that talent and ultimately control much of the market’s “exports.” New channels and monetization mechanisms are popping up everywhere to monetize creativity.

How is Talent Sourcing done in Creative Markets?

The $130 Billion market sizing number is based on an index of how the supply (creative talent) is sourced through a number of demand channels, which will be explored more below.

As those demand channels expand, so too does the potential market size, which is why Creative Markets have a large expected CAGR (Cumulative Annual Growth Rate) going into the future.

Much has been made in recent years about platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr, and a host of other mainstream talent platforms. These ‘talent’ platforms make it easier to source work across various categories, whether temporary or full-time, employee or contractor.

Platforms like Dribbble cater to the Creatives market specifically, with a value proposition that states “over 3 million ready-to-work creatives!” There are many other niche platforms catering to Creative Markets as well, too many to list in this post.

Nevertheless, traditional recruiting in both the Agency and Corporate world for creative talent persists. The majority of the top creative talent will still gravitate towards more established channels, where the pay is typically good (to great) and long-term.

But as the Creative Markets evolve going into the future, there is more likely to be a fusion across channels. The work-by-day, freelance-by night type of Creative seems more and more plausible as new, more distributed channels emerge.

The experimentation by social media platforms in the Creator Economy may open new opportunities for Creators to monetize their work.

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This spectrum of platforms and channels will be explored deeper in a further post.

In short, as Generative AI and other new automation technologies surface, so to will demand in and around Creative Markets. There will be opportunities abound, but the segments and subsegments are still difficult to see and market structure is still very fluid.

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