Company of the Day: mobilads

Company of the Day: mobilads

Company:  mobilads

Market: New York

Headquarters: 1639 Centre Street #117, New York, NY  11385

Phone: (336) 207-7205

Email: craig@mobilads.co

mobilads is a data-enabled rideshare advertising platform that utilizes wrapped Uber/Lyft fleets as rolling billboards in the NYC area.  mobilads was founded by two former bankers, Craig Cook and Niels Sommerfeld.   Insider talked with co-founder Craig Cook.

How did the idea for this concept come into fruition?

I started the company in February 2017 and Niels joined 4 months later – the two of us have been working on it together ever since.  One day on the way to work, I was looking at a taxi ad through the window of my Uber and thought, “Companies are paying a ton of money to advertise on taxis, why aren’t they paying to advertise on Ubers?”.  A few months later I came to Niels with the idea of helping me build this company, and he agreed, “Why is no one doing this?“.  As someone who had been involved in media planning at an early-stage consumer startup Niels immediately saw the value in it.

If you look at the stats, you’ll find that there are more than 80,000 rideshare vehicles that complete more than 17 million trips a month just in New York City.  That’s more than five times the 13,500 medallion taxis on the streets and twice the number medallion trips.  Meanwhile, ridership on subways and buses has declined over the last two years, which is directly tied to the increase in rideshare use.  When you think about those staggering numbers, you realize the massive opportunity there is to utilize this empty real estate of, what we like to call, “rolling stock media”.

It became evident to us that not only was this an opportunity to access 17 million chances of exposure for our advertisements, but that we could also to give drivers the option to make some easy income on top of their rideshare earnings.  Rideshare drivers are getting paid less than ever before and a lot of them live paycheck to paycheck.  After speaking to hundreds of Uber drivers to see if they would be interested, 9 out of 10 of them were on board to participate.  It was never a question of driver demand – recruiting advertisers is what has proved to be more challenging.

What exactly does mobilads provide?

Our bread and butter is brand awareness and powerful data analytics.  mobilads is the more transparent and better-looking version of taxi-top advertisements.  Think of us as “taxi-tops 2.0”.  It’s also the most cost-effective OOH option in the industry with CPM’s ranging between $1 – $3.  As foot traffic increases above-ground each year, mobilads provides enormous impressions counts given the nature of the rideshare business in the NYC area – full-time drivers near population-dense areas at all times of the day.

Several clients and agencies we’ve spoken to are super excited about our data capabilities.  We pair real-time GPS location data with mobile tracking technology to segment exactly which types of audiences are exposed to your ad – psychographics, demographics, purchasing behavior, and other brand-relevant categorizations.  We also provide device ID’s that allow you to retarget these same audiences exposed to your ads online and deliver cross-device messaging.

The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission lost an attempt to ban advertising in rideshare vehicles.  Tell us a little bit about that.

Back in 2015, a company called Vugo sued New York City after the Taxi and Limousine Commission banned all vehicles that were not medallion taxis from advertising.  Rideshare vehicles, which had recently been classified as For-Hire-Vehicles (FHV’s), were not allowed.  Vugo argued that if you’re going to classify the vehicles the same, and require the same license, you can’t treat them differently.  The judge agreed, the TLC was unable to justify its regulations, and Vugo won the lawsuit on February 2018 on first amendment (commercial speech) grounds.  So here we are – the laws are now deemed unconstitutional, and unenforceable.  This opened up the market for companies like ourselves to start our advertising efforts, legally.

Where do you see OOH trends going today?

We’re seeing huge ROI from venture-backed consumer-tech companies that are investing in traditional outdoor advertising to complement their digital marketing efforts – Hims, Casper, Brooklinen, Thinx, etc. The real-world presence adds legitimacy that would otherwise only be encountered online, and smartphones have fundamentally impacted how people interact with the advertising they consume in the physical world.  After all, 70% of our waking hours are spent outside the home and 68% of consumer mobile use is done on the go.  As data-tracking and attribution become more prevalent, marketers will be focusing on greater targeting and measurement precision to increase the likelihood of provoking action, as well as getting eyeballs, and ultimately conversions… and when you combine quality data, creative relevance, and frequency you have yourself a killer outdoor marketing strategy.  AI, digital signage, and even self-driving cars are just a few of the exciting innovations that will undoubtedly contribute to a smarter OOH marketplace.

What’s your vision of the company?

We want mobilads to be the go-to for transit in NYC, before expanding to all other major cities across the US and globally.  Our goal is to become a data powerhouse that is easy to use, puts money into the driver’s pockets, and provides valuable metrics of each ads effectiveness to foster the growth of our clients.  We currently have a fleet of 7,000+ vehicles (and growing) in our inventory, and plan on having 25,000 by the end of 2021.  Further down the road, we envision a world where every all ridesharing and self-driving vehicles will display our ads that are relevant to each and every consumer.

How mobilads Is Helping Brands Like Cleanly Drive Sales

How mobilads Is Helping Brands Like Cleanly Drive Sales

By Lauryn Chamberlain Aug 23, 2018 9:01AM

With over 80,000 rideshare vehicles on the streets of New York City alone, more marketers are seeking effective ways to reach on-demand riders both in-car and on the street — but even as the technology powering ridesharing has advanced, methods for advertising on vehicles themselves have largely remained as old-school as throwing a banner on a taxi top.

New York City-based startup mobilads aims to create a change: By integrating real-time data to its ad platform that utilizes wrapped Uber/Lyft fleets as rolling billboards, “mobilads provides a level of data transparency that has been neglected and hard to quantify in the outdoor advertising space for decades,” explains co-founder Niels Sommerfeld. “By extracting real-time GPS location data every 10 seconds from our vehicles and pairing it with crowd analytics data made up of mobile ID’s that are exposed to the ads, we can segment different target audiences based on [more] relevant categorizations.”

GeoMarketing: Talk us through exactly how mobilads works: Where and how do you place advertising on rideshare vehicles — and what’s the placement process like with your data partners?

Niels Sommerfeld: Think of mobilads as “taxi-tops 2.0,” but with more sophisticated data capabilities and more eye-catching advertisements.

The process itself is pretty simple: Our clients choose the duration of their campaign as well as the number of “rolling billboards” (cars) from our large pool of available rideshare inventory in New York City. Our professional team manages all of the operational work required to launch a successful campaign from start to finish, including the production/installation of vinyl on the vehicles, coordinating driver logistics, analyzing and reporting on KPI’s throughout the campaign, and even design work if the client needs it. Clients can also customize the placement of their ad, whether it’s a full wrap or just the side doors, which allows for 360 visibility.

Again, what we do is to extract real-time GPS location data every 10 seconds from our vehicles and pair it with crowd analytics data made up of mobile ID’s that are exposed to the ads. This allows us to segment different target audiences based on psychographics, demographics, purchasing behavior, and other brand-relevant categorizations. Our clients can also leverage this data for retargeting purposes to extend their reach and frequency online and optimize cross-device marketing.

You said you’re looking to provide the data transparency and attribution you feel has been missing in the OOH space. How is what mobilads offers different than other OOH providers’ capabilities, in your mind? 

Most marketers and agencies we’ve been speaking to are highly focused on audience-targeting and measurement precision — and they get really excited about the granularity of data we provide compared to traditional outdoor advertising. With our data platform, mobilads connects the dots and attributes movement across platforms to more accurately understand consumers’ path to purchase.

mobilads CPM’s range between $1 – $4, making it a cost-effective option. And with foot traffic increasing above-ground each year, [we aim] to provide enormous impression counts due to the nature of the rideshare business in the NYC area — we have full-time drivers near population-dense areas at all times of the day.

If you look at the stats, you’ll find that there are more than 80,000 rideshare vehicles that complete more than 17 million trips a month just in New York City. That’s more than five times the 13,500 medallion taxis on the streets and twice the number medallion trips. Meanwhile, ridership on subways and buses has declined over the last two years, which is directly tied to the increase in rideshare use.

Companies like Wrapify and Carvertise are our closest competitors in the space. However, [we feel our differentiator] is leveraging rideshare and data analytics the way we do.

How do you manage omnichannel attribution? For example, how do you measure if someone rode in a vehicle with specific advertising, and then visited a certain store — or a brand’s website? How do you approach closing that loop? 

Utilizing a proprietary ID bridging technology, our third-party data partners track digital media engagements and conversions across all environments – mobile, desktop, email, paid search, direct mail, offline purchases, physical visits and more — and then match these multiple IDs to a single user.

We measure the impact of our ad exposures on actual sales both in-store and online through purchase-level data, as well as perform foot-traffic reporting and brand lift studies for most points of interest in NY. Advertisers can then use the combined data sets to create online segments of people exposed to the vehicles on the road.

These attribution capabilities allow for greater cross-device marketing that extends reach and frequency, which is particularly important in travel marketing, where the booking journey can include as many as 16 different touchpoints before someone finally makes a purchase.

You recently launched a beta campaign with dry-cleaning delivery company Cleanly. How did that campaign operate, and can you share any metrics around it? 

Cleanly was interested in promoting their brand in Manhattan and Brooklyn for eight weeks. With just 20 cars, the campaign generated 3.2 million out-of-home impressions in the geofenced zones and 300 promo code conversions, at an average $3.58 CPM. This was huge first step in advancing our data capabilities and an operational learning curve — now we’re fully focused on launching a large “Take Over” campaign between 500 to 1,000+ vehicles in NYC to maximize frequency and impact.

You’re a partner for Advertising Week in 2018. How did that come about, and why do you feel that it’s beneficial to have a presence there?

Advertising Week NY is a world-renowned event that brings together the industry’s brightest minds in marketing, advertising, branding and technology. As an early-stage startup looking to bring innovation to the OOH space, we feel it’s important to get involved. We also see it as an opportunity to get our brand in front of hundreds of thought leaders and marketing executives, as well as the 98k+ attendees who happen to be our most relevant target audience.

[My co-founder] Craig and I personally met with the Advertising Week team to understand how mobilads can bring value to the event. Keep an eye out for mobilads vehicles promoting Advertising Week throughout NYC leading up to it!

What’s next for the company as you continue to scale?

Our goal for mobilads is to be the go-to for transit in NYC, before expanding to all other major cities across the US and, eventually, globally. We currently have a fleet of 7,500+ vehicles (and growing) in our inventory, and we project having 25,000 by the end of 2021.