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“Challenger Brand is one that does not want to be an also-ran. It’s either not satisfied with its current position below a market leader or wants to enter a market to take on a leader.”

Hollis Thomases is the CEO of Web Ad.vantage, a 13-year veteran of the digital marketing and advertising space. Web Ad.vantage delivers digital strategies, analyses and marketing tactics to fierce, aggressive, maverick-y, agile and competitive companies, aptly called “Challenger Brands” because their intention is to take on the market. Both Web Ad.vantage and its clients have moxie, and to meet its clients’ needs, Web Ad.vantage is driven to generate quantifiable results that challenge the status quo.

Web Ad.vantage doesn’t try to be all things to all brands. They occupy the digital niche and they excel in this niche. They help companies and institutions figure out how to use the Internet as a marketing channel, whether that’s through online advertising, social media, search, email, mobile or other digital solutions.

Hollis Thomases, CEO of Web Ad.vantage - CEO

MO: The way you describe your company is definitely intense. What drives this “fierceness”?

Hollis: We’ve been in the business of digital marketing for over 13 years so I have seen a lot of trends and technologies come and go…and a lot of competitive agencies come and go. Everyone and their uncle wants to be a digital marketer now — you can see this today with all the “social media gurus” out there. But to do this work really well, particularly for brands looking to challenge the status quo, you have to LIVE in that space all the time. You have to know what it’s like to feel challenged and to be hungry enough to compete against those forces. Me and my agency have lived in this kind of situation for more than half of our existence now. To rise above the din, you either have to do things better or different (or both). That’s what we strive to do for our clients.

MO: I enjoyed reading about your “family-friendly, synergistic, creative” work environment. Can you expand on what makes your work environment different and why this is important to your company?

Hollis: As CEO, I don’t see the point in fighting what drives us as human beings; that is, a sense of fulfillment, work/life balance, and purpose. Instead, at Web Ad.vantage we embrace this in the fullest. We communicate if workloads are bleeding into evenings or week-ends, and approach projects with resources at-hand and projected resources if needed. This helps us avoid the stress of trying to squeeze too much into a day, plus keeps us focused and refreshed on our individual areas of ownership.

MO: What is this idea of a Challenger Brand?

Hollis: A Challenger Brand is one that does not want to be an also-ran. It’s either not satisfied with its current position below a market leader or wants to enter a market to take on a leader. Challenger Brands have several attributes in common:

• They are very determined, aggressively so

• They approach their endeavor with single-minded intensity, focus and confidence

• They don’t mind being intrusive or disrupting the status quo

• Rather than attack a market through the masses, they go after thought leadership and mindshare

• They get the power of publicity & marketing

MO: You currently occupy the niche of digital marketing. Who do you think does an amazing job at digital marketing, and what can other companies learn from them?

Hollis: Well, it wouldn’t be fair to mention digital-only brands like Amazon or Zappos because if they didn’t do digital well, they wouldn’t be in business. So if we’re looking for examples of multi-channel marketers, I’d say The Gap, Best Buy and even IBM.

MO: How important do you believe Social Media advertising is, and what tactics do you implement to make sure it is effective?

Hollis: Social media advertising is different than Social Media Marketing — advertising is the exchange of dollars for some kind guaranteed visibility; marketing is the use of a medium to help promote a campaign or agenda. Advertising is part of marketing, essentially. That being said, I like to remind our clients that social media anything is just another tool in the marketer’s toolkit, to be evaluated against the goals and objectives of the campaign. If it’s sensible to utilize social media, then do so but if it makes more sense to buy banner ads or do search engine optimization, then that should be the priority. No matter what tactic you choose, however, you should establish a means by which you will measure success and deploy mechanisms to measure this success. Tracking and analysis your web analytics data is one of the easiest means to do this..

MO: You have been named as one of the Top 10 Social Media Companies. What do you believe sets you apart in the social media sphere that is insanely saturated?

Hollis: Part of it is how we ‘walk the walk’ in social. Meaning we research and test social media tools we actually use (or don’t use) ourselves. It’s funny though, how we’ve earned that moniker when we didn’t actually set out to ‘be’ a ‘Social Media Company’ – and, at the end of the day, we’re actually a whole lot more than that. We’re a digital marketing agency that knows how to integrate social as one of many channels in the mix for our Challenger Brand clients.

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