This content relates to : DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
CEO, Project X Media
I started building Project X sort of by accident. This was back in 2008, 2009, I was working with a client that wanted to launch an outdoor advertising campaign in New York City and they wanted to be around Bed Bath and Beyond as they were preparing to launch a new product there. They asked me to put together an outdoor advertising campaign and frankly I’d never heard of outdoor. And I needed to learn how to put it together and so I got on my bike, I rode around Manhattan, I looked at all the media owners that are outside the Bed Bath & Beyonds, wrote down their names, went back home, tried to find their numbers, managed to put in phone calls to a bunch of different companies, and started to get an avalanche of information that didn’t make any sense. Different formats, different sizes, different prices, different spreadsheets, different presentations, you name it. Nothing was consistent. As I was going through that process, I recognized the opportunity to clean it up and simply realized that back in those days that we could build technology that helped to automate the way that that information was shared and processed between a media buyer and a media seller. So, what we did is we started going to all the outdoor media companies, the Clear Channels, the Lamars, the out fronts of the world and said to them, “Hey, we want to build software to organize your information, make it more accessible, make it a more transparent, make it a more efficient process to bring into an environment that we believe can create far more opportunity in value for consumers further down the road.” What we recognized was that as we were onboarding all of these media owners and hundreds of thousands of units of inventory that we started to build this sort of Trojan horse. We onboarded the entire supply side of the outdoor advertising inventory and recognize that we’re sitting on a tremendous amount of data and information that was really the start of this ideation of what can we do with that? Where can we take it? And frankly, part of entrepreneurship, those were some of the funnest, most inspiring moments is thinking as far out about what you could do and where you can create value.
In our experience, you needed to have all this information operating in one environment in order to really start to see where you can take it and the opportunities you can create for this industry. As we continue to roll up the inventory and build workflow tools that help them sell more efficiently to the buy-side, we turned around and said, “Wait a second, we could go build a front end to this information that allows media planners and buyers and advertisers to more easily access this information in real time so that they can start to automate the way they planned it by this media across all of these media owners across the entire United States” The challenges, of course in those days, were convincing media owners that they should be more transparent and accessible in the information that they have. A big part of the way they sold was sort of a one-off transactional request process, an RFP, and what we recognized was you could remove a lot of inefficiencies when you have the data and the information in your fingertips. And so our job was to really think about applying software in a way that enabled media sellers to have a more efficient sale process and create better access, and frankly, the ability for people to find them more easily than getting on a bike and riding around a city. And for the media by side to be able to transfer tons of information back and forth to help create a smarter process and a more effective out of home campaign on behalf of the clients.
I think when you step back and you look at today’s world and how you build innovation and where innovation comes from. So much about innovation today is rooted in the overall package in how a customer experiences your brand, your product, or your service. And when you think about the sort of history of businesses over the last 20, 30 years in the services industry, the traditional service-based business is sort of having a convergence with technology. And I think there’s a, there’s a beauty and an ugliness to that. The beauty is that the technology can really help support and create efficiencies for the service side. The ugly is how quickly the service side is able to adapt at the speed at which technology moves and technology is removing the need for a lot of traditional service layers because of the value that it brings in organizing information and the overall package of the experience that the brand and the service providers have when interacting with this information. So I think we sit at a really interesting time of innovation where part of everyone’s job and sort of the entrepreneurial world and certainly in our world is constantly looking at how are we experiencing everything on a daily basis? What are the opportunities to improve that? How can you improve that? And how can you build a business or a product or service around that? And our job in the outdoor space is to constantly be thinking about that package. How do we think about the way brands and agencies interact with outdoor media? The way that media sellers are adapting to new technologies, whether that be the influx of mobile and the data that comes from mobile? Whether that be QR campaigns and QR codes, to just thinking about how are they able to speak to more customers today than they were two years ago? And so we think a lot about access and transparency and efficiencies and those are the general themes that I think you can look at broadly across most industries today and see that there are a lot of industries that are inefficient. They may be inefficient for a reason because service providers are trying to hold it back to hold on to their position in the space.
But technology will inevitably invade there and it will be the convergence of how service providers and technology companies work together to ultimately improve the experience that a customer has in that respective industry. And I think when you look at outdoor, what we’ve done in the last ten years is take an entire industry, an $8 billion industry in the US that operated completely offline, brought it entirely online and improved a tremendous amount of data and information in value, and brought that into this space and really enriched how every player is involved with outdoor advertising and how every consumer and brand interacts with it to understand the value that it provides for them.
CEO, Project X Media