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Rob Gorrie is the President and co-Founder of ADCENTRICITY, a Digital Out of Home (DOOH) ad network and leading media platform that effectively delivers a cohesive “one stop shopping” and execution solution to brands that wish to engage with target audiences in-store and on location.
ADCENTRICITY is Rob’s third start-up venture. He has more than 15 years of sales, marketing, advertising, retail and technology experience, which he leverages to ensure ADCENTRICITY is providing the most effective creative media opportunities to agencies. Prior to founding ADCENTRICITY, Rob was head of Interactive and Interactive Point of Purchase at Gorrie Marketing Services, a true pioneer in retail & below the line marketing that has serviced Fortune 500 organizations and was founded by Rob’s family in 1882. Previously, he served as President of TheCiti.com for 9 years – an early online advertising, marketing and software development company. Rob attended the University of Western Ontario and currently resides in New York City.
Co-founded in 2007 by Rob Gorrie and Jeff Atley,
ADCENTRICITY is North America’s leading Digital Out-of-Home advertising software and platform providing agencies and brands efficiency, transparency and simplicity in the increasingly diverse, growing and impactful Digital Out-of-Home landscape. A robust, proprietary advertising platform, ADVenue, allows media agencies to isolate, fully understand, hyper-target and execute DOOH media for a wide variety of brand tactics where it matters – where consumers actually are – in place-based and retail environments nationwide. ADCENTRICITY replaces hundreds of tedious man hours with next day turn around advanced solutions allowing for greater focus, flexibility, agency efficiencies at scale and unmatched service. They offer an enormous collection of digital out-of-home media audience with over 400MM monthly audience impressions, 100 network partners and over 200,000 quality location-based and in-store screens.
ADCENTRICITY is a young startup and provides more than just pure digital outdoor advertising. Your services include campaign research, mobile activation, network consulting and other solutions. How do these services help differentiate you from others in the industry and position ADCENTRICITY as a leader?
Firstly, it’s important to clarify that DOOH is made up of three markedly different areas; Digital Outdoor, Location Based and In-Store opportunities. ADCENTRICITY services the latter two as they are directly measurable and inherently contextual – you know where the consumer is and with today’s technology can count the people coming through the door and know what gender, age and race they are so it can be an empirical number to work with for the agencies and brands to effectively evaluate.
Secondly, yes, we offer an array of ancillary services in support of our agency clients’ efforts. In today’s world and business environment, you simply cannot operate in a vacuum. Simply building a platform, service, software or widget which solves a singular problem doesn’t go very far these days – you need to reach deeper and understand core problems and issues with the changes in today’s landscape, how they affect your customer and how you’re going to be a bigger solution than others purport to be.
In our case, a platform like our ADVenue helps manage the workflow and makes the planning and ecosystem more efficient and I like to think is the best in the business; but as a standalone the true recognized value to an agency or brand it could be perceived as just another one of thousands of platforms that “could” help manage day to day business at the agencies. There’s not a ton that’s compelling or valuable in that position on the surface…even if your business IS the best available. We realized this early on and while we’re extremely proud of the core platform, we know we need to bring more to the table to be accepted by our customers. Anyone can build basic software solutions – building value and having it recognized takes much more.
In that light, we embarked on an early mission to make sure we bring more to the table than anyone else; we don’t live in a vacuum and know that people want to engage with our medium so we adopted and evangelize mobile as a conversation starter paired with DOOH. We know our medium is social in nature just by where our consumers are, so we can leverage wide-ranging social initiatives. We know how hard agencies have to work to support the use of new mediums like ours, so we set out to become a massive database of ROI data on our medium. We know that media costs are an issue so we invest, partner and integrate with major research companies to understand how our agencies can save money up front and garner more ROI on the back of a campaign. We also know that we may be able to support our network partners more effectively by sharing our ongoing learnings so we help consult on revenue modeling and business modeling.
We first ensure that we are looking through the proper lens for each agency’s needs. Our goal is really to work with our partners and help them to understand all the different options out there to choose from and which ones will help to drive ROI. Not every brand or campaign is right for these tools right now so we try and counsel to that effect.
Digital OOH is really the physical manifestation of online and mobile campaigns. It’s a way to take all of that hard work that is put into connecting with customers online or via mobile and extending it into the real world in places like grocery stores, you’re the local 7-11 or a doctor’s office…it’s where most people spend over 30 percent of their day, so why not connect with them in their environments on their terms? We’ve never had connectedness like this available in such a ubiquitous manner or so targeted!
We are doing our best to provide ancillary services and products to agencies and brands to accommodate these needs. It’s a “crawl, walk, run” approach to business that allows agencies and brands to dip their toes in by using turn-key mobile, Internet or social programs that are built to support very specific functions that benefit retailers and brands.
As part of our team, we also have the technical resources at hand to execute and educate, bringing capabilities to agencies and brands they may not have across these spaces because they were never needed before, which opens up much more complex solutions. These types of programs will become VERY popular in the next few years, especially as smart phones become more mainstream and we want to help our partners get there faster and safer. Everyone wants to get in and dabble, but you need some safety nets to do so.
Out-of-home advertising, or outdoor advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry. What advantages does digital out of home advertising hold for companies that advertise through this means?
There are some pretty basic benefits which many people are already aware of:
• Greater recall of messaging by consumers
• More relevant content to consumers creating a more genuine media
• Immediacy – all of these screens are connected so content is more up to date and in the now
• Sales lift in retail, increased traffic on web sites, etc
• Targeting and utilization of consumer analytics to customize plans to a specific initiative
• Planning national and buying local
• Better servicing of customers in keeping them informed and educated or aware
But some of the benefits of Digital OOH are much less recognized for now:
• It represents a cultural shift in how our population consumes information
• The medium will learn to and already has transformed retailing in many shapes
• Digital OOH is and can be the “hubs” that connect all of the mobility and location based fervor that is happening
• Facilitates a shift in how our population communicates
• Consumers will and do drive much of the content on DOOH – not brands
• The medium can recognize what is happening at, around and to it – AT a particular street address – it is well on its way there to becoming a self aware medium
Digital out-of-home media is one the fastest growing mediums across North American and Europe. It delivers advertisers ROI and delivers highly effective hypertargeting by geography, demography, channel, purchasing habits, customized venue mash-ups and a seemingly endless amount of flexibility in how to approach campaign strategy but more importantly – how you engage your consumers. As consumer behavior patterns and media consumption habits continue to change and more people continue to spend more time out of the home DOOH will continue to thrive.
How are you able to track the success of advertising campaigns that leverage digital out of home media? Does this differ in anyway from how traditional advertising success is measured?
Metrics is probably the biggest challenge facing the space. Brands want to be able to see the connection between DOOH and a consumer response. Research is in high demand as advertisers are looking for a way to measure the success of a digital out of home campaign. Research and ROI metrics are an essential element in any medium to garnering widespread marketer adoption. Unfortunately, despite great results on many campaigns across the board, because DOOH is so tied to direct sales lift in a lot of situations, it becomes a strategic imperative NOT to share those results for fear competition will jump on it. This has artificially kept DOOH out of the limelight…when we see sales lift of 30-300 percent the medium is compelling but we can rarely discuss it.
We try to be more stringent on ourselves and DOOH campaigns where we can be and where brands really want to understand campaign ROI. We have to be if we want to help carve out and be recognized as deserving a bigger slice of the media and trade budget pie.
Through research studies, digital out-of-home media has been proven to be very effective advertising vehicle for both brand advertising and retail efforts. Customers like Samsung (wireless) on an ADCENTRICITY planned campaign resulted in a 49 percent increase in un-aided brand awareness. A major confection client saw increases of 50 percent in sales.
Measuring success is really a function of what your definition of success is, of course. Sales lift is the ultimate objective but in some cases we can save 20 percent of the campaign costs by better targeting which mean a brand can get their message to more people for less. Other times, an increase of three percent in web traffic in the markets we’re advertising in is a success benchmark. As long as it’s trackable, we usually see positive results
ADCENTRICITY delivered out-of-home media for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. What was the objective and strategy here? What was the final result of your efforts?
For this particular campaign, ADCENTRICITYwas tasked to deliver strategic digital out-of-home media plans for the Barack Obama Presidential campaign. In particular, the critical battle ground state of Ohio, which needed special attention to bear positive results for the candidate:
• Increase gross reach and frequency of the relevant Barack Obama messaging
• Utilize digital out-of-home as a competitive differentiator and “home stretch” canvassing vehicle
• Trigger voter action by prompting potential and existing constituents to engage with the messaging through mobile text messaging for immediate and extended campaign dialogue
The program hyper-targeted highly populated FSA’s of two DMA’s within Ohio and included 729 screens across five major venue categories including: entertainment, gas stations, hospitality, personal care and health care.
The campaign produced a monthly audience impression of 866,189, serving 2,173,457 Barack Obama ad spots featuring an SMS call to action with specific key words in each DMA. Voters who engaged with a text message were sent a Barack Obama bumper sticker and were included in an on-going dialogue with “Barack and Michelle Obama” driven by GMMB.
You’ve worked with other large clients such as Verizon, Samsung, and Royal Bank of Canada. ADCENTRICITY is just a few years old, how were you able to attract clients of this stature? What marketing strategies did you have in place that assisted you?
Much of our success on this front is a leadership and forthrightness answer. Jeff and I both believe that honesty & integrity paired with demonstrable thought leadership and results garners attention. At the core of our beliefs is “Don’t say anything unless you’ve got something to say that people really want to hear.” You won’t find us in the market trying to get people excited about things that don’t matter to the agency or make noise about things that don’t get agencies excited or to take notice. Marketing to your own community of friends doesn’t help your industry.
In terms of tactics we used, we’re in stage two of five right now. The first was awareness and building a community of likeminded believers in our message. For this we use social media and blogging extensively and spent a ton of time demonstrating and connecting online with people in our online community that agreed with the basic philosophy of the company’s mission. This involved Facebook, my blog, the company blog, twitter, attending and eventually speaking at events and being very active on the contributions of others who were doing the same thing to promote the medium. As the company grew, we moved to the second phase, which was education and engagement. Our activities in the first phase were company related (what is your company and the DOOH medium)…our second phase needed people to understand how to use the medium, how it benefited them and why we could save and make them money at the same time. In other words: “Great…now I know who you are and you have some street cred but what are you going to do for me?” We supported this by launching DOOH quarterly reports, introducing whitepapers on how to use DOOH for things like Hispanic advertising and even a very successful paper on how to do creative in the DOOH space. All of these and more intellectual efforts garnered significant attention of the in the marketplace around the benefits of the medium and, eventually, our place and value within it. It was at this stage that some of the more innovative marketers like Samsung & Verizon started to really approach us and, as leaders in innovation, be early adopters in understanding where DOOH could fit to support their overall efforts as one of their integrated channels.
As for phases three through five – you’ll have to wait and see for those but we definitely have big surprises in store, all focused on making the agencies lives easier and making agency campaigns more effective with greater return.
Rob, you also have a long standing blog where you discuss the many facets of digital out of home media. Who is the target audience for your blog?
I use my blog as a way to publicly ponder happenings in the Digital Out-of-Home space, specifically targeted at the advertising, content, media and use of the medium. My interest in having a blog is to try and level up and allow for communication of what works and what doesn’t in the space so everyone involved (brands, buyers, networks, integrators, hardware providers, researchers, etc) wins and the industry makes great strides in helping people use it for their various needs.
Originally the blog was community based and focused on building consensus on issues and problems and successes in the space. Since that time, many agency personnel have reached out to me to ask questions and gain a deeper understanding of our company and the medium at large.
You are the president and founder of ADCENTRICITY, you were a leader in other ventures as well. There are many people who are great at what they do. But, in your experience, what is it that separates those who rise quickly from those who do not? Is it opportunity, being at the right place at the right time or something else such as a passion for leadership that makes the difference?
That’s a big question and I know I’ve fallen down enough times on the path there over the last 15 years but for brevity I will say that separating the good from the great is on the fulcrum of having and holding on to your vision despite the naysayers while being able to accept that your idea may not be perfect and could use some good old constructive criticism from both agencies and partners. You need to be able to adapt to grow fast and being immoveable will not get you there.
That statement, however, without the ability to be a decent manager and the skill to build a phenomenal group of people around you that also share your passion and vision will never succeed.
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