blur (Group) plc Q3 Metrics Update
blur (Group) Plc (BLUR), operators of the world's leading Global Services Exchange at blurgroup.com, continued to scale during the third quarter of 2012, with the annualised new brief run rate approaching 1,000 per annum. The quarter saw the passing of the first 1,000 briefs landmark from starting to trade in 2010, providing an impressive growth indicator and by the end of the quarter the Exchange had received 1,158 briefs with total values exceeding $15 million. Over 1,700 service providers from all over the world joined the Exchange in the quarter and for the first time in blur Group's history, US customer adoption overtook that of the UK.
Philip Letts (Photo: Business Wire)
Q3 was the first quarter to break the 200 new briefs mark, with 215 briefs in total submitted to the Global Services Exchange, compared with 182 in Q2, and with a total value of $2.9m. In the corresponding quarter of 2011, 76 briefs were submitted, representing a growth rate of 183% year on year.
86% of briefs came from the US and the UK, with, for the first time, the majority (46%) being from US businesses. Prior to this quarter, the UK was the leading brief source. Briefs were submitted from 18 other countries, including South Africa, Dubai, Sweden, France, Switzerland, Australia, Croatia, Morocco and Mexico, continuing to show the global reach and applicability of the Exchange.
The largest number of briefs were for design projects, with marketing projects second. In only the first quarter of blur Technology trading, already 3% of total group briefs were for technology projects. The average brief value for the quarter was $13,500 compared with just under $11,000 for the second quarter, and $6,100 in Q3 2011. Repeat brief values averaged $35,000.
The largest portion of customers came from the Technology and Media sectors, although the overall percentage from these sectors was lower compared with Q2, demonstrating how blur's Global Services Exchange is becoming more broadly adopted. In particular there was an increasing number from the Engineering, Manufacturing, Leisure and Healthcare sectors.
Briefs from SMEs (companies with less than 250 employees) accounted for 60% of customers in the quarter, with 40% from corporate customers. Of the 12 largest Exchange customers so far in 2012, 75% are repeat customers.
Of the projects submitted during the quarter, 42% completed within the quarter with a further 15% at the final selection stages. Tallying with the SME/corporate split in briefs submitted, 60% of completed projects were from SMEs during the quarter and 45% of the projects completed were from the US and 38% from the UK.
The sectors with most projects going live were IT/Technology and Media/Advertising, accounting for nearly 40% of total projects. Of these projects, the average time from initially submitting the brief to the project kicking off - when the customer and expert start working together in the Exchanges online project space - is just under three weeks, demonstrating how effective the Global Services Exchange is at collapsing project timeframes.
The total number of expert service providers on the Exchange increased by 1,704 in the quarter, including experts on the new Exchange at blur Technology, reaching 21,560 from over 130 countries. A third of these joined blur Designs, reflecting the large number and increasing value of briefs on that Exchange. Experts continue to win business across borders: the largest project of the quarter in the US was fulfilled by a service provider from the UK.
Coral, one of the earlier corporate users of the Exchange also submitted the 1,000th brief to date on the Exchange in August. One of their campaigns from this quarter, ‘Removal Van Persie' received widespread publicity as a stunt at the start of the new English Premier League season - a project where timeliness was a particular requirement, as well as originality and impact.
The largest customer in the quarter in project terms was a leading education provider in the US who ran a major video advertising project through the Exchange, replacing one of the large international network agencies as its supplier. This was the first $100,000+ corporate project kicked off through the Exchange. A major global manufacturing organization completed three projects covering product launch, channel marketing and social media implementation.
Illustrating the value that the Exchange brings to businesses, an online research and equities marketplace saved over 75% on a PR project compared to an initial estimate from an existing supplier. In addition the campaign ran in three territories compared to the originally budgeted single location and the flexibility of the Exchange resulted in expert PR agencies from all three countries working together to launch a new product. A number of the world's most respected PR firms have adopted blur Group's Global Services Exchange.
Other blur Group Developments
By the end of the quarter the Exchange had receive 1,158 briefs with total brief values exceeding $15m.
During the quarter blur Group launched its new partner program at partners.blurgroup.com, providing additional value and access to services for both its expert service providers and customers. It launched its affiliate program at affiliates.blurgroup.com enabling any business around the world to carry blur Group's unique brief app, earning money for briefs that are listed on the Exchange submitted through their own site.
blur Group also appointed Richard Bourne-Arton (owner of UK Hydro) and Robert Brooksbank (CFO of Carclo Plc) as Non-executive Directors to its main board, and set up Strategic and Operational Advisory boards, comprising leading industry and business figures including Archie Norman (Chairman ITV), Kevin Lomax (ex-CEO Misys), Tim Schoonmaker (ex-CEO Odeon Cinemas) and David Sola (MD Houlihan Lokey and ex-Softbank).
Philip Letts, blur Group Founder and CEO commented: “blur Group has outperformed on all key metrics in the summer quarter, has become a truly global online exchange operator and our users can confidently point to the Exchange as the new way to efficiently purchase and manage creative and other business projects. The rate at which the Exchange is scaling is quite impressive and yet the industry disruption has just begun - not surprising that one of the world's largest PR agencies described this as the ‘new world' of services procurement.”
About blur (Group) plc at blurgroup.com
blur owns and operates online exchanges where businesses in any country can buy, sell and pay for business services like marketing, advertising and technology. Businesses brief projects and expert service providers pitch for the project and the entire process runs online right through to project delivery and payment.
In early 2010, when the Exchange formally launched, just over three briefs per month were submitted. In Q3 2012 this had risen to around 70 per month from companies like the AA, Coral, Exceed, Fantasy World, Red Commerce, Harvey Nichols, the Financial Times, Berlitz, Butlins, GE Healthcare and Tyco. Over the same time, average brief value has grown from approximately $1,500 in 2010 to an average for 2012 YTD of $11,500. Now more than 1,200 briefs have been submitted with a combined brief value of over $16 million, with these briefs coming from the US, UK, Europe, Africa and Asia.
Today, blur Group has over 22,500 experts, agencies and service provider firms in over 130 countries on six crowd platforms who benefit from networking, peer advice as well as new business opportunities. All are reviewed and approved by the Group's Exchange Support executives before joining. The Company is also building crowds of experts for legal and accounting services, with a view to accepting briefs for these services in H1 2013.
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Cordelia Meacher, +44 7961 311080