February 18, 2021 | Justin Gray | No Comments | ,

B2B marketers once considered Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising a top of funnel tactic leveraged to raise brand awareness. But today, it’s so much more than that.  Host Justin Gray welcomes Matthew O’Connor, CEO of AdQuick, to talk about the rise of OOH advertising in the B2B world and how marketers can leverage it to boost their media mix.

In this episode, Justin and Matt discuss how COVID-19 affected what was set to be an unprecedented year of OOH growth in 2020 and how OOH is expected to rebound as the world opens back up. They also discuss how OOH can support performance marketing and which KPIs B2B marketers should focus on.

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3 Key Points:

1. OOH advertising is on the rise. With digital platforms at their ad load, it’s no surprise OOH is the second fastest growing channel there is. OOH has massive reach with low CPMs. And with workers relocating and working remotely, OOH media is an interesting way to connect with buyers in a fresh way.

1. OOH goes beyond driving brand awareness. Outdoor media like billboards, wallscapes and bus benches have the highest brand recall of any channel. But brand awareness should be quantifiable as well. Fortunately, new OOH buying platforms enable marketers to not just make smarter buys, but gain better data to track the effectiveness of their campaigns.

2. OOH boosts performance marketing. Whether it’s increased site traffic or app downloads, marketers monitor every decimal of click-through rate, conversion rate and cost-per-click. This is where OOH can support their efforts. OOH advertising  helps boost click-throughs on downstream advertising as buyers increasingly recognize the brand.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

1:35 – What does AdQuick do?

4:47 – How has COVID-19 impacted the growth of OOH advertising?

11:05 – Why was OOH lagging in technology and how has that changed?

15:25 – How is OOH advertising evolving from a branding exercise into a performance-based tactic?

17:30 – What are the KPIs organizations should focus on for OOH advertising?

20:05 – Who have been the catalysts in your life?

22:50 – What was a catalytic moment in your career?

28:00 – Wrap-Up: Find Matt on LinkedIn.

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Full Transcript

Justin:

Hey, hello and welcome again. You’re back on Catalyst, about midway through the season at this point, but certainly no shortage of stories. Folks that are really revealing some innovative, interesting, pragmatic ways to navigate through the times in which we are living.

Justin:

Certainly, longer into this whole Covid situation than I had predicted initially, but also seeing much more innovation, and just really kind of founders buckling down, organizations trying new things, remaining agile, and navigating through this with some pretty interesting outcomes.

Justin:

So I’ve got another one of those stories here on the podcast today. I’m happy to be joined by Matthew O’Connor. Matthew is the co-founder and CEO of AdQuick. So Matt, welcome to the show.

Matt:

Hey, thanks for having me.

Justin:

Absolutely. So interesting space that you guys operate in. I actually took a look at location-based advertising before it started vis-à-vis as a potential market that we wanted to go in, and ran into a bunch of interesting nuances there, and that was, geez, over 10 years ago now at this time.

Justin:

So I’m excited to see how a sister space to that has evolved, and what you guys are seeing out there. And then certainly as we mentioned, the impact of Covid there on yourselves and your clients.

Justin:

Before we get started with that, just give us a little bit of a background on AdQuick, maybe a bit about your role there, and just kind of the overall mission and goal of the organization.

Matt:

Yeah. So AdQuick is a platform making it easy to buy outdoor advertising, quite simply. There’s a lot buried underneath that, but I think one of the quickest ways to wrap your head around it is Kayak for advertising in the real world.

Matt:

So it’s a platform that pulls together inventory across thousands of media owners in the U.S. and many abroad, putting them in one place, allowing advertisers to easily see what inventory is best for them across this panoply of different media owners, different media types, like you referenced, place-based being one of them.

Matt:

And then once the campaign is booked, we have a suite of attribution solutions that flow from the booking to actually quantify the impact that the spend is having for the brand. So whether that’s upper funnel brand lift, lower funnel events like app downloads, or site conversions, we want to make booking real-world ads much like booking digital ads is now with ease and attribution.

Justin:

Got it. Yeah. I’m interested to see how you guys make that connection there in terms of… This entire space, as I understand, is essentially called out-of-home advertising. Right?

Matt:

Correct.

Justin:

But that’s kind of the broad segment. And so, yeah, I’m really interested to see how you guys combine that with just the digital first motion that most organizations are transforming into, or had already made that transformation prior to Covid. And certainly the metrics end is something that we hear ad nauseum from marketers these days. So really interesting idea to combine those two aspects.

Justin:

As we jump into that, the entire podcast is called Catalyst. I’m curious, what does that term catalyst mean to you?

Matt:

Yeah. I think the dictionary definition, when you actually look at it, is pretty accurate to entrepreneurship where it’s not that a catalyst is creating something from nothing, it’s that a catalyst in the chemical sense is an enzyme or a reagent that accelerates interactions.

Matt:

So I think that’s kind of applicable to entrepreneurship in that oftentimes, you’re not taking something from nothing, it’s really taking elements that are already existing and combining them in a better, faster, cheaper way.

Matt:

So that’s kind of how I think about it as it pertains to entrepreneurship in particular.

Justin:

Yeah. And then, obviously, really applicable to kind of this whole Covid era and so on in terms of… We’re all dealing with what we have. We’re dealing with what’s in front of us, trying to respond to those variables in the most intelligent, impactful manner.

Justin:

And I think at the center of that are always people. Someone that can see things for what others don’t. And certainly use those resources around them to create that change or to stimulate that change.

Justin:

So speaking of change, so out-of-home advertising, I’ve got the stat in front of me, was predicted to grow by $1.3 billion between 19 and 2023. I’m curious as to, well, number one, if you have any thoughts on that, are those accurate stats? But then also, what was the impact of Covid on that growth and that spend, and really just the focus on-out-of home?

Matt:

Yes. So just prior to Covid, out-of-home as an industry was growing faster than it had in a decade, which is pretty interesting, right? Like the oldest medium of advertising that exists is all of a sudden growing faster than it has in a very long time. There’s a bunch of inputs or hypotheses as to why that is. Covid hits and mobility is-

Justin:

What’s your hypothesis on the reason for that growth?

Matt:

I think it’s a couple things. One is that as online advertising has become 70 plus percent programmatic, meaning it’s all algorithms, or majority algorithms doing the bidding from both the publisher and advertiser side, that’s yielding higher rates. And the demand has continued to increase while the supply has not increased as fast, a couple of sub-components of the supply, not increasing as fast.

Matt:

The platforms are basically at their ad load. You cannot go on the internet without seeing a massive amount of ads. You do a Google search for a common term, and the first page is all paid ads. So there’s not that much more that can be done as far as finding new surface area there.

Matt:

The second big thing on the supply side in online advertising is that ad supported media is shrinking very quickly. So things like Netflix, Spotify, paying for YouTube, paying for Medium or New York Times subscriptions, all those things, all those companies are moving to try to monetize on subscriptions or paying for content, rather than ad supported. So that’s a combination that makes online advertising dramatically more expensive.

Matt:

Meanwhile, the other major ad channel, TV, is suffering from cord cutting very rapidly. So things are moving to connected TV, and the two biggest kind of Goliaths in the ad space getting compressed with macro and technology evolutions drive ad budgets into looking for better yield, better pricing while still getting reach.

Matt:

And that’s exactly what out-of-home strength is, is massive reach, ubiquitous reach, very low CPMs. And what we’re showing a lot of brands is that you can also get attribution with it, which is really a light bulb moment for a lot of the companies we speak with.

Justin:

Yeah. That makes total sense. And so, what has been that shift since Covid? How has that impacted that growth rate? Has it, or are we’re seeing that-

Matt:

Oh, yeah.

Justin:

Okay.

Matt:

The short term, the industry as a whole will be down roughly 30% this year. So it’s industry predicated on impressions in the real world, people moving around. And when that’s restricted, advertisers are going to be less likely to use the format, or certainly scale their spend.

Matt:

So that will be down this year. And then next year, it’s forecast to be the second fastest growing channel that there is, because it was a down year. But growing 20% for this industry is growth… it’s probably never seen before year over year.

Matt:

And that’s also changed a lot of just behaviors within that world around planning cycles, geographic flexibility. And again, probably a broken record here, but also requiring that there’s attribution around every ad spend.

Matt:

And so I think a lot of companies, particularly older school companies were on a rinse and repeat cycle. They would do the same campaign every year for Valentine’s day, a jewelry brand, will do New York City and LA. Same budgets, rinse and repeat.

Matt:

So not only are they open to other markets now because this has sort of sparked, hey, we may want to spend that same budget in out-of-home, but where are those same customers who aren’t in a geographically locked down place? And they’re everywhere. But because they were in that, not rut, but there was that inertia of what they had been doing year over year, that’s now changed, and they’re open to new markets and things like that, as well as also being a lot more nimble on their planning times.

Matt:

So those same type of brands will be booking 18 months in the future. And so that’s totally gone out the window because we now realize that, with Covid in particular, planning 18 months out is not feasible. You can’t commit to that and you don’t know what the world’s going to look like in 18 months anyway.

Justin:

Right. And so it seems like almost your solutions are kind of purpose built for these scenarios to where we’ve got to get… to your point, no one’s planning. If you’re planning a quarter ahead as a CMO, you’re kind of on the long game side there. But you need feedback quickly, right? Like the analytics that we were relying on year over year, being able to look back at a 2019 report and say, “Hey, this is how this is going to impact my cycle this year.” That’s gone out the window at this point.

Justin:

So we need that attribution, we need those analytic insights to know, hey, this is where those customers are congregating, here’s what they’re seeing, here’s how they’re responding. So it seems kind of purpose-built for that ROI forward world in general, but certainly when people are trying to get their footing underneath them and figure out how Covid has changed their go to market strategy.

Justin:

So, I mean, was it as simple as that? Like, “Hey, we’ve already got a product that really fits this need well.” Or were there areas that you guys also saw that you could innovate and make changes, and really, further excel?

Matt:

Yeah, a little bit of both. And so maybe some context on how we got exposed to this industry is helpful here, because my co-founders and I, we worked together at Instacart in the early days. At that time, we were in three markets when I started, and we got to 15 markets by eight months later.

Matt:

So we were rapidly launching in new cities with a small team. And so we needed to be able to execute advertising within a couple of weeks, really. So when we bumped into out-of-home, it was a really manual… Outreached to every single vendor that we could find, get the responses via emails and phone calls. Cobbled those proposals together to try to see what’s best, what locations and what inventory do we want.

Matt:

So the industry hadn’t kept up with the pace of modern marketers, which has been spearheaded. And digital has ridden that wave. But I think that’s a one way street where all advertisers… The Bezos mentality is really interesting. What will customers not want in 10 years? They’ll never want slower deliveries. They’ll never want higher prices.

Matt:

And so advertisers and marketers will never want slower media. They’ll never want lower attribution media. And so those were things that were kind of natural to us coming from that perspective. And I think it’s really just accelerated the adoption curve of the overall market where you do have laggards and traditionalist who are in a pattern of behavior that’s been changed very quickly.

Justin:

Interesting.

Matt:

So it was started, and it did accentuate a lot of our strengths with flexibility, speed. The things that we’ve started to do are adding more novel ways to help buy. I think one of the highlight examples of that this year was that we helped Breonna Taylor’s family crowdsource funds to do a really quick outdoor advertising campaign about ending no-knock warrants.

Matt:

So that’s sort of an adjacency built on the foundation of the platform where we can help crowdsource and show how easy it is to build, buy, and fund outdoor advertising campaigns.

Justin:

Yeah. I was just going to bring up, there’s also… by applying a hyper-focus to things like that, whether it’s a social good campaign, or whether it’s nuances within an industry. I know you guys are doing quite a bit in the cannabis space which is a space always near and dear to my heart because I own a hemp farm. And I’ve seen the regulations that, number one, applies so differently to different states versus the fed versus… Everyone’s trying to navigate all of this stuff.

Justin:

And so when you see really interesting items like that, that can be highly focused, where you can combine the analytics into them, and take advantage of, maybe we can’t run that ad in New York, or whether it’s going to be less effective in New York, but we can run it in a small town here in, I don’t know, Ohio.

Justin:

You can get targeted around that, but then the ability to kind of combine those analytics into your point show the impact of that with some of these kind of lighthouse campaigns, it seems like it’s really interesting there as well.

Matt:

Yeah, absolutely. And cannabis is, as you say, an extremely nuanced industry right now in that it’s federally illegal, but legal in many states. And so out-of-home is an interesting play that gets a disproportionate amount of cannabis advertising, because out-of-home is one of the only ad channels that is not federally regulated, it’s locally and state regulated. So that opens up this ad channel for them whereas they can’t advertise on Facebook or Google, for instance, or TV.

Justin:

Yeah. So let’s talk a bit about the perception, I think, of out-of-home, because that’s the impact of those lighthouse campaigns that we talked about, is changing what I think is that perception, which is that it is a brand building exercise. You see this all the time. And if anyone’s driven through the Bay area, you’ve got to have a billboard there. And largely, those billboards don’t say anything, it’s just a logo, and it’s kind of like the we’ve arrived element.

Justin:

But it sounds like you guys are really changing that. And I’m curious to how you’ve gone about attacking that perception explicitly.

Matt:

Yeah. So in some ways, we embrace that perception that it is a brand medium, it is. It has the highest brand recall of any channel. What we’re really approaching it as, first of all, brands should not be a non quantified thing either. It should be able to say, here was your brand awareness prior to an out-of-home campaign, and within the audience that were exposed here was your post-campaign, brand awareness, likelihood to buy, competitive awareness, et cetera.

Matt:

So we want to make that scientific and make out-of-home, sort of brand plus advertising, where we also certainly know that when somebody sees an ad that’s relevant to them, they may go home to their computer and Google that brand, buy that product, download that app, et cetera.

Matt:

Historically, there is so much lost value and lost attribution in out-of-home because it’s hard. You’re working with a bunch of different data sets, and having to do complex exposure identification, to cross device mapping, et cetera. And you’re doing it on sample sizes.

Matt:

So it does get convoluted, but it really only shows upside for the channel and reveals to advertisers that, hey, I know the billboard campaign looked good, and I know I heard a lot of good feedback. Now I have hard numbers to really validate what that spend meant to us as a company up and down the funnel.

Justin:

Yes. So how should marketers be thinking about out-of-home? What are the key metrics that you’re teaching them to track? I don’t know those have changed with Covid whatsoever, but as they’re thinking about an omni-channel approach, which again, for a lot of marketers doesn’t involve that out-of-home element naturally.

Justin:

And so, how should marketers be approaching this. And what should they be looking at really to guide that spend going forward?

Matt:

Yeah. So I kind of like to start those conversations with, what are your goals as a company and a brand? And oftentimes it will be things like site traffic, again, app downloads, or if they’re a performance marketer they’re monitoring every decimal of click-through rate, conversion rate, cost per click.

Matt:

And it’s interesting when you start with the next set of questions around, so how many people on your team are dedicated to increasing the click-through rate? And at medium to large size companies, there’s a handful of people who are on the performance marketing team, working on copy, creative, different networks that they’re all in, et cetera.

Matt:

And when you ask them, what would you do for a 10% increase in click- through rate? They’d say, “I’d do just about anything for that.” “Well, did you know that when people are more familiar with your brand, they’re going to be a lot more likely to click through on your downstream advertising, and out-of-home is the singular best ROI channel to do that. Oh, and by the way, we can actually tie together that thread.”

Matt:

So a lot of times with brand marketers, it’s pretty obvious. They already like out-of-home, we make it 10 times faster. So that’s a benefit there. But when we’re talking to companies who aren’t as bullish, or they haven’t done a lot of out-of-home because they’re in a performance mindset, you can pretty easily work back the logic to show them why out-of-home is valuable even to their performance mindset.

Matt:

So it depends on who we’re talking to, but those are kind of two of the ways we have those conversations.

Justin:

Makes sense. So, let’s pivot a little bit and kind of get back to yourself. You mentioned… Do you have one co-founder or multiple co-founders?

Matt:

Multiple co-founders.

Justin:

Got it. So, curious to get inside the mind of founders all the time. And I find that the one thread of consistency there is that these are folks that have had really impactful people within their lives that have kind of shaped that outlook. And frankly, the ability to just start and run a company.

Justin:

So, when you look back on your road to now, who have those catalysts been within your life? Is there someone that kind of stands out there?

Matt:

Yeah. There there’s a bunch in the scheme, I’ll try to make it a little more concise for the purposes of the conversation. But I think, kind of quickly on the first boss I had in a job I hated, frankly, was as a paralegal at a law firm.

Matt:

I ended up being on a case with the founder, Lloyd Constantine, who was about 70 at the time, I was 24. And he had this incredible leadership style where I was blown away when he would actually ask my input on cases we were working on. Of course, not the most important issues, and I don’t know how much weight he put on it, but it was really an impactful catalyst on the way I try to work with teams, and manage the company.

Matt:

And then more kind of practically and recently, somebody that really had a big impact on me was Max Mullen who was the co-founder and is the co-founder at Instacart. So just kind of seeing him operate and be versatile, thoughtful, that we were a rocket ship, and there’s a lot of great things that come along with a rocket ship, like learning and exposure and obviously valuation.

Matt:

But to see him deal with a bunch of the kind of, oh shit moments that popped up, and the grace and thoughtfulness, but still with a solution orientation that he took through it, it just stuck with me. And he’s also been helpful in advising us, and just being a super positive person. And so he’s had a big impact on me.

Justin:

Yeah. That’s an interesting element, just because you oftentimes don’t get a window into those oh shit moments, especially when there’s a founder or a top level executive involved. There’s that tendency just to… everything’s great, it’s awesome, we are a rocket ship, nothing can touch us, type of deal. And then, you don’t get that visibility into what’s actually going on behind the curtain there.

Justin:

And, for me, that’s one of my biggest learnings as well, because it’s those areas where you do expose those items that I think humanizes that role, which can be very much kind of a very lonely role at times, and really attracts people. And it sounds like it had a similar effect on you, just in terms of seeing the human side of things and how people work through problems.

Matt:

Yeah, absolutely.

Justin:

And so you kind of already mentioned something that might be an interesting catalytic moment in your life, because it sounds like you’ve had some pretty big career changes in there, but as you look back, is there one big moment of change in your life that stands out?

Matt:

I mean, it’s hard to say anything other than the Instacart experience. One minor input or prelude to that was I started a charity bike ride. And that was a very small thing in the scheme of things, but it was just that first real taste of taking an idea and putting it into the real world, and making it happen and being like, “Wow I’ve never started a charity bike ride before. And all of a sudden, hundreds of people are signing up raising a ton of money, and having a lot of fun.” Like, that’s powerful.

Matt:

And then, again, more practically on the Instacart side, taking that company and being a part of going from, 25 to 100s of people and this unheard of underdog, to now a household name. And you talk about it, an inverse impact from what out-of-home saw with Covid, which was a downturn to Instacart, immediately becoming a household necessity almost. That’s pretty interesting.

Matt:

But that experience was a front row seat into a wildly successful company, the goods and the bads. But it really demystified a lot of that, where it kind of empowered me, because I was doing my job, but also seeing other people and how they were doing their job. And so that was a pretty powerful experience.

Justin:

You still have shares in Instacart?

Matt:

I do.

Justin:

Yeah. It’s got to be a great thing to watch, right? So again, we’ll pivot into a different kind of boat here, if you’re cool with it?

Matt:

Yeah.

Justin:

We’d like to wrap things up with a lightning round of questions.

Matt:

Love it.

Justin:

Hopefully they’re not the typical lightning round of questions that people do. And so we’ll try and be a bit different here.

Matt:

Okay.

Justin:

First and foremost, and this is so relevant right now, and certainly within Covid, but even before in this just information world that we’re living in, but where do you go for your news and information, the stuff that you trust?

Matt:

NPR or BBC, I find the least kind of loaded sources.

Justin:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). There was right in the middle on that, that infographic, right?

Matt:

Yeah. Reason is a decent one. I do try to look at both though. You can at least see what the different perspectives are thinking and try to understand how they’re convincing themselves that certain things are true. And I won’t go on either side, but I think… Anyway, I’ll just stop there before I get myself in trouble.

Justin:

Sounds good. What’s your guilty pleasure?

Matt:

Guilty pleasure. Twitter, Taylor Swift.

Justin:

Speaking of non, or bias news channels, I should say.

Matt:

Yeah. No, they’re entertaining, no doubt. I mean, they really have the psychosis of humans down pat with outrage, and extreme, and they’re very good at that. And you can’t help but feel it when you go and read any of these, so.

Justin:

Agreed. What’s one thing that you would change about yourself if you could?

Matt:

Aside from being taller-

Justin:

An introspective.

Matt:

Man, so much. But, lightning round, I wish I had a little more internal patience. I think that would help me be calmer.

Justin:

Sounds good. And then finally, to wrap us up, and maybe we already touched on this but we can probably expand on it a bit. What’s the worst job you ever had?

Matt:

I did a little construction for summer jobs, it was just kind of brutal. I had no training, but for some reason they put me on using a jackhammer to get asphalt up. That was pretty brutal.

Justin:

Demos are always a good place to start, that’s one thing that I say to my folks quite often. Everyone should have worked construction for at least a summer in their life.

Matt:

Yeah. I just-

Justin:

It’s a character building process.

Matt:

It was. In retrospect. Absolutely. But I just couldn’t believe there was nobody showing me how to do it, or even watching me with this power tool. But I didn’t lose any limbs or fingers, so it was all good.

Justin:

See, that means that there was a successful outcome, so that’s awesome.

Matt:

Yeah.

Justin:

So, yeah. Matt, I appreciate you taking the time with us today. Super insightful, loved the conversation. So I would love to give a plug in terms of where people can go to connect with you. What channels do you prefer?

Matt:

Well, for anything company related, check out adquick.com. And then I am on, but inactive, on Twitter at Morrison OC, M-O-R-R-I-S-O-N, OC. My name is somewhat common, so I have to go with middle name and last abbreviation. But yeah, that’s probably the best place.

Justin:

Okay. And we’ll put those links down in the description. Again, thanks so much for joining us today, telling us the AdQuick story which is obviously super relevant and continues to evolve. Great channel for marketers to check out. If you’re not looking at out-of-home, definitely a great time to explore that, given the analytic presence that these guys are doing.

Justin:

And of course, please remember, subscribe. That’s really what drives us here, reviews and subscriptions. So subscribe, leave us a review, we’d love to hear the feedback. And of course you could always hear today’s episode, any past episodes over at leadmd.com/bestpractices. And always remember, until next time, never miss a chance to be inspired.

 

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