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Oct. 12, 2020

Episode 050 - Inc. 5000 Freestyle with Doug Cordova (Wrapify) and John Laramie (Project X)

Episode 050 - Inc. 5000 Freestyle with Doug Cordova (Wrapify) and John Laramie (Project X)

This week we are joined by two leaders from Inc. 5000 companies to discuss some of the most pressing topics facing the Out of Home advertising industry today.

Join Wrapify VP of Business Development, Doug Cordova, and Project X CEO, John Laramie, in this panel style discussion where they each prepared 3 questions for the other, neither having any idea of the questions ahead of time, giving you their completely unscripted, candid response.

We discuss topics like the future of holding companies, what the industry can do to better position OOH with potential advertisers, how to grow marketshare, how the industry can best work with the rapidly expanding D2C (direct to consumer) segment and a whole lot more.

Whether you're a media owner, agency owner, work in business development or are a.brand consiering Out of Home advertising, this is an episode that has two of the industry's top leaders sharing their most intimate opinions on important, sometimes controversial, topics.

#oohadvertising #wrapify #projectx

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We're recording. Welcome to out-of-home. Insider today's episode is brought to you by led truck media led truck media specializes in hyperlocal street level campaigns. They get your message in front of the right people, whether your campaign is one day or one month with nationwide coverage, your campaign can be live in any major market within 24 hours.

If you want to reach a perfect audience in a truly engaging way, visit led truck media.com led trucks. Out of home advertising 2.0, thanks again for making today's show possible. All right, let's do this. This is going to be a fun one. We've got John Laramie, CEO of project X. We've got Douglas Cordova, vice president of business development at

Each of them has three questions for the other. Neither knows what their questions will be and what neither of them know is that I've got three bonus questions for both of them. Gentlemen, welcome back to the. Thanks for having us. Absolutely. This is going to be a lot of fun. I don't have a coin. Um, but, uh, who's the away team and who's the home team.

And who wants to kick us off? I'll let John shoot a question at me first. Quite the gentlemen, John, go ahead with your first question for, for beauty. Uh, I gotta think about of the three I've got, which one I want to come out swinging with. Um, All right. Here's my first, how should the AAA and geo path work better together going forward?

It's a good question. I've thought on this a lot, actually. Um, I think the key is to kind of do a look back window, right? Say what have we been doing all this time and what has not been able to push the needle and like anything else? So many people write a to do list. People need to be writing a, not to do list.

So let's cut the stuff that's not working and let's bring in new ideations, new ideas and try them out. Try something new. I feel like we're in this repetitive cycle and we got great leadership. Kim Frank is great on a bogger is great. Like there's, there's great minds or there's great leadership there.

Let's inject some new ideas. Let's let's, let's take some real chances. Let's let's be a little. Uh, let's puff out our chests a little more, you know, add a home has been so effective during COVID. We've been so effective forever. We keep doing everything we're asked to be doing. Let's force the needle.

Let's push let's say no, you should be doing this not. Oh, what else can we do for you advertisers? No. Why aren't you utilizing out of home? You should be utilizing, I don't, let's call out campaigns that don't work and show the campaigns with that on that do work. And let's put advertisers on the, on the pet on.

To the metal for once and say, Hey, why aren't you using at home? Why do you keep utilizing your seen budgets to do the same things continuously? And let's try to, you know, for once kind of like some flames under some people, instead of trying to play nice all the time, force the conversation a little bit about that.

John, how do you feel about his response? I think it was great, man. I think it's exactly what we're thinking about, but I think, you know, if you scratch a little deeper. You've got new leadership at both organizations, but you don't have new voices from those organizations. Um, and so how effective can the leaders be?

Um, when the boards or the committees of each of those respective organizations have largely looked the same for the. 20 years. Um, and it's different, the Archer blade and geo path, right. Um, based on sort of the billings and the investment that the media owners will make into these things versus sort of the agency side of it with, with, um, geo path.

So I think it's, you know, I think it's a really interesting time for both those organizations. I think there's should be a lot of conversation about how they can both just become one organization to not to. Um, I think you'll have things pointed a lot more in the same way. I think that that makes sense, Doug, you're up.

I'm ready. I'll uh, I'll I'll I'll throw a softball to start it off. So John, as you know, worse, You know, at-home small world, right. And when you lead an agency like you have, how do you balance your relationship with vendors who you have a friendship with from years of going out years of working with years of whatever the case may be with work.

And, you know, you have an Alliance and you have a, you have a job to do for your clients. So how do you balance that role, that friendship, client vendor relationship in such a small world that at-home operates in? Yeah, so I think there's a. Two things that come to mind. I think first of all, uh, the small world, the relationships that make up this space are sort of, uh, its greatest anchor.

Um, and, and that can be equally good as it can be bad. Um, and you know, it, it creates. Great opportunities for empathy. Um, it may create lesser opportunities for pushing one another, uh, or challenging one another. I find that our responsibility in this space is almost equal to the client as it is to the media.

And I think when you look at that balance, um, we have to be respectful of what our role is in this space. Um, and that's taking your media assets. Adding, you know, uh, helping weave together the fabric of the story of how your assets work with 20 other media owners. We're putting together a campaign across 20 other markets.

I mean, the variables to that is, is enormous. Um, and so I think we have a responsibility to represent you guys as best we can and to help tell the story as best we can. Um, and we, so we have this responsibility to the clients, help them understand how to best use their dollars across all of these formats and all these areas, markets.

And so. We can't do what we do if we don't have the media owners supporting us. Um, and I found over the last 10 years, just seeing other agencies beat the shit out of other media owners and, and pressure them on rates and pressure. You know, you're not getting this by, unless we get this and. When you come back to the relationship side of this, you're not supporting one side that feeds the other.

Um, and I think it creates a dynamic where rightfully so some media owners say, get out of the way specialist. Um, you're not helping out here. Um, and I think there's in, this'll feed that. One of my questions for you. Um, I think there's, uh, A real challenge and an opportunity there specifically. And how does that dynamic change going forward?

How did the media owners respect the role that the media agencies play and vice versa? And if you're not doing that, then guess what? We're both failing the class. And then when we both fail the client, we all lose. Um, and so it's, I look at our role as 50 50, like we've got to deliver the same value to the client as we delivered to you guys on the media owner side.

Um, and if we're we're handling you wrong, we're gonna handle the clients and we all end up failing. I think that if this wasn't attached to like an arm, it would just kind of go like, like that. All right. So, uh, I've got a question for, for each of you. Um, uh, Doug, I'm going to ask you your question question first, Doug.

If, if you were a dog, what breed would you be? Okay if I was a dog, what breed would I be? Um, I guess I'd be, have to go golden retriever pick. I mean, I really never heard anyone say anything negative about a golden retriever, just all level around. You've never seen a golden retriever in a bad mood. No, they're always happy.

They're always loved. Yeah. I like to push with positivity, love and happiness. That's all mine. That's all my stick. So yeah. Golden tree. Oh man. That's a, that's a, that's a good answer to a good question, John. What's the worst hairstyle you've ever had.

Uh, when you have this hairline, they're pretty limited to the types of hairstyles you can have. Um, funny enough, in high school, I had a huge fro like really big curly. Oh, it was, it was wonderful. Uh, unfortunately, um, it just, these, these guys keep running away from me. Um, I tried to dye my hair in high school.

Uh, with what was it called? Sunnen oh, I did it too. It was the M and M phase. Yes, but my hair is so black. It didn't work, turned orange, just pouring it on my head and it never worked. So that was my, that was my worst attempt. It's pretty bad. That's pretty bad. All right, Doug, why don't you lead us off this, uh, this frame of.

All right. Um, so, uh, this goes, coincide, John, actually, with what you asked me, I started at five, but doesn't have to be five things. What are, what are some of the key components you think that are holding the at-home industry back right now?


collaboration, uh, Um, deeper data, um, lack of availabilities in real time. Um,

sort of, sort of similarly, it's kind of in the realm of technology and workflow is, is just access to information. Um, and availabilities is one of those components. Um, but I think availability. It's bigger. Um, let's talk about collaborating. Yeah, let's talk about. So I was actually on the phone with my former counterpart, uh, earlier today.

And she, she was really the inspiration for starting all the show and everything. And I was saying to her, she represents a very cool boutique markets. Always got strong local GDP growth. There's a lot of manufacturing. There's, there's disposable income. It's all the right things, right. In terms of an audience, but it's tough to buy with broadcast.

And out of home is the only way to buy the market, but there isn't collaborations going on through the multiple levers or multiple layers of, out of home in that market. Is that something that smaller regional operators should be looking at is how to collaborate with other media owners in their. I, I think that like, you're sort of a request of five.

I think of the three that I said you could split off those themes into a hundred things. I think what I mean by collaboration and to break that down, collaboration is one with other media formats. Collaboration is, um, amongst ourselves, uh, as it relates to media owners and, and media agencies. The problem I see with the.

The form of collaboration on, on the sense of, um, other media formats, uh, whether that's digital or TV, et cetera, our industry shit's on every other form. We shit on TV. We shit on social. We shit on block ad-blockers and you can't block out a home. Like we need these other formats to work together and to strengthen outdoor, to strengthen how media and advertising works, because they're all interconnected and the more we shit on these other, these other things.

The less, those formats want to collaborate with us and we get continued to be held in our silos. Right. So I think that's a big problem. And in my perception of, of, uh, where we struggle in collaboration, Listen, you can look at it. Oh, AAA Geopack DP, AA. They're constantly putting out data points about, we all perform every other format or, you know, you can't block our ads.

And like, I just think that's the wrong message when we need to be working together. Especially when you look at. The silos that occur inside of holding companies that outdoor continues to just be shoveled into some corner. Um, it's not surprising that we don't get the support of the collaboration from the other channels and the other teams, uh, especially when our industry messaging is, is negative in that direction.

So I think there's a real opportunity to fix collaboration there. Uh, that's awesome. John, your turn back to Douggie. Uh, share it kind of connects that last one. What happens? The holding company specialists over the next five years? I think it's all there. They're all integrated. They're all swooped up.

They're all poop. Assisted. They're all. It all becomes one. I think they get ingrained into the holding company as, as in itself. And. My fear for that is they get limited resources that way. At least when they're kind of their own thing, they have resources allocated. They have to keep a certain amount of people on staff, et cetera.

I feel like they're going to be swooped up and ingrained and out of home is just going to try to be bought as programmatically or as simply as humanly possible. And the, my fear is that. The heads down, creativity, ideation, the stuff that rises and gives more value to our medium. That brings us up when we're talking about how much budget to be allocated, why we should be focusing more on this, why this can help with the KPIs, et cetera, kind of just becomes okay.

More to here's what we're trying to hit. Here's the locations. Here's the. Go go get it done. And it's a real fear I have. Um, but do you think that's much different than what's happening today? And I say that with, with, with the slight sort of angle of many of these holding companies special. Our cost center to, to a client in the sense that, you know, they'll throw in outdoor for free, because they're going to make all their money in the digital or the social aspect of managing those brands.

And so the outdoor agency is just crushed by 10, 20, $40 million of, of a client's billings that they make zero money on. Ma, maybe there's improvements to that when they're more integrated. I don't know. I mean, I, I, I've obviously seen both. I've worked for big companies. I worked for small companies, you know, always, you know, the holding companies are a vital part of, of, of the revenue stream for out of home as a whole.

Uh, so I think it depends. It's. Based differently. You have a lot of times, you know, when the out-of-home team sits with the strategy team, they're involved in the climbing, they're saying, okay, this is where we should be utilized. This is where, this is how we should be utilized. And they go and they fight for dollars and they bring vendors in and vendors get to present to their clients.

And it's that one to many approach that makes it easier for people like rapid fire who don't have a voice, uh, don't have. A 5,000 person sales team to get out in front of a lot of clients and show our value. Then it works and it works well. And we've seen it work well. It's when it, you know, it's, you're a tier one at-home vendor.

So as soon as the RFP out goes out, though, it's only, it's only going to tier one. And if tier one cancel suffice, then it'll go to tier two. And if tier two kids, then it'll go to tier three. And if you're not even on tier one, tier two, tier three, it doesn't really matter. It goes to those tiers because.

The limitations and their ability to work with, or, or manage the amount of information that comes from each one of those vendors. Like the big agencies only buy from, from the big guys because of workflow or deal structure. They're not RFP 20 vendors in Atlanta because they can't handle the amount of information that comes from 20 vendors.

Um, and I think that's the limitations of, they have no tactic to carry that weight for, but that's the crazy, that's the rock and the hard place. The at-home it's like you want, you don't want to allocate a lot of resources to your at-home buying team, but at a home is the most complex, medium in terms of the amount of vendors, the amount of things there are to buy.

So if you're not investing money and letting these people really explore, you're going to be shortchanged on what you're getting in the backend. And then you're going to come and say, well, add a home. Didn't work for me. That's the best answer. Do they that's so well said, yeah. How do we fix it? You got to have these guys believe in technology and it's gotta be, it's gotta be everybody.

It's got to be the media owners and it's got to be the media agencies that believe in it. Um, the first steps bleeding, the second step is, is being able to. Uh, use it effectively and have a system that works effectively. Um, you know, we're obviously really proud of the technology we built and, and the scale at which we built it and the workflow efficiencies that it provides us.

Uh, But that's not the case for a lot of, for most other agencies. Uh, it's just not, um, things are duct taped together. Um, and they don't carry from one department or team to the other and that's, you know, that's going to be a limitation. I mean, listen guys, I've been been in this space for long enough.

I've sold software to a lot of agencies. And obviously we stopped doing that recently because we just recognize that there's so much value in the tech we built. And that's why we want it for ourselves. But I sat inside each one of those guys. Um, and until, I don't know, 2016, they said, oh shit, we need tech.

But for six years they were like, we're fine with, this is our job. Our job is to do spreadsheets and PowerPoints and that that's handicapped, uh, themselves as handicapped clients, uh, you know, that's created problems. Um, but it's, it's. You know, it's, it's an opportunity again, to come back to collaboration of how does, how does the industry come together and work on a universal platform?

I mean, can you imagine buying, can you imagine buying, uh, internet ads without DoubleClick? No, but that's, that's the, I don't want ministry never scales. Yep. So that's the out of home industry, right? There is good stuff, guys. John, if you had a. We can only use it once a month. What would it be? Um, I mean, superpower is really broad, right?

Like once a month you could go from, uh, every month, I'm going to heal everybody with COVID to do, like, I just kind of want to fly. Uh, so it's hard to like answer the, I just want to fly with them. That's really selfish. Like maybe once a month, keep everybody with COVID. Uh, I think that they're both good answers, Doug, how would you describe the way you dance?

Oh dude. I'm from Queens. We all know how to dance. You're kidding me. Reggae. Salsa. Moran gay. You you give me a, oh, you give me a good beat. I'm ripping that floor. I, I don't doubt that. I just have no doubt. Maybe John superpower would be to dance like Doug once a month, as soon as I hit, as soon as, as soon as we hit junior high school, as soon as the, I was with them, resilient people who look, nothing like me, I was taught very early.

If you want to talk to that girl, you better learn how to move these, those legs. So as soon as they, as soon as. Girls were dancing. I, I learned how to dance real quickly. John bring us home. What's that last question you got for Doug? Um, when a new D to C brand launches, uh, just broadly launches and they use outdoor to be a component of that launch.

Um, do you think they increase or decrease their spend over a three to five-year horizon?

It's a good question. Cause we've seen both, obviously we've seen brands like Casper, come on and spend a little and then blow it out. And then we seen brands come on like Brooklyn and then spend a lot and then pull totally back. Um, I think, and this is why I think the initial foray into at-home is so important.

And why. Specialists who know the ins and outs of the industry is so important because if they hit hard at first and it works, it's going to expand and it's going to expand vastly. And especially when they move to different markets and they want to make their, their brand known. It's gonna really, really, you know, work in that matter.

And then when they hit hard and it doesn't work where, where we are not a rebound. You know, people will run YouTube ads, Facebook, Google, and it won't work the first 50, 50 times, but they'll keep going until it does work. We don't get, we don't get that. You don't get that second chance. And at home we were utilized and if it doesn't work.

At home doesn't work for us. And it may take us a year, two years just to get back integrated into a, into a campaign with a company. So I know that wasn't the most straight you, I think you touched on a little bit of all the things we talked about today is that if you ha like the reason people keep staying in YouTube or whatever it is is because.

They have enough data points to sit there and understand where they failed and where they were successful. We don't in this space. Um, and that comes back to the opportunity of better collaboration or better data to, to enhance that. When you look at a D to C brand, you've got to remember who you're talking about.

You're talking about in either private equity owned or, uh, early stage VC backed company that cares the most about metrics and dollar spend. Um, And so they use outdoor in my opinion, to scream about who they are, create a ton of awareness, um, and then use other channels to optimize that moving forward.

And you've seen the very large, large brands, like a Casper and public company com public company. DTCs that maintain just because they're big enough, but if you don't get big enough as a D to C brand, you can't keep your dollars and outdoor, you've got to move them out. Well, we've also seen, in all fairness, though, John, I have seen with, and recently also companies who DTC companies who have rolled out out of home, then pull back.

So a sick soldier. And either whatever their KPI was and then go back hard with the, with the at-home. That's why, if the at-home campaign has that initial bump, it also gives us more leverage. If something shouldn't consistently, you know, happen to come back over the top, just defining that bump and making sure that that DTC brand is set up.

To capture and, and use that information that comes in to be successful. I mean, I'm sure, you know, we've seen it, you've seen it have a brand that wants to go live and outdoor and put up some unique URL and like, oh wait, we don't have a website ready. We don't have the page ready. We can't get our creative ready.

And then they walk out. Right. And so, um, they've gotta be set up in a way that they can actually. Visualize that bump and, and, and be able to measure that that was, that was related to outdoor, not something else that they were doing. Um, that's why I think those guys are able to come back because they S they saw metrics that said, Hey, we, we recognize something here.

No, a hundred percent

close us down, man. Got one left. Last question. So. It's easy for us to say on a vendor side all the time, all this, this, this agency doesn't like us. So they say, and she just ignores us. So this ain't, she buys from XYZ all the time because they're best friends. So what misconceptions do you believe exist on our side regarding the agency world and how do you think they could be changed or fixed?

Hmm, that's a great one.

Hm. I mean, I,

maybe there's some misconceptions around sort of turnaround time. Um, and that agencies, you know, have a crazy turnaround time and then you don't hear from them for a couple of days. Um, and listen, I, I tell our team. Both with clients and with media owners that, um, if you asked somebody for something within 24, 48 hours, you gotta keep them updated over the next couple of days of how it's going.

Same with the client. If you send them something in 24, 48 hours. Hey client, you fucking owe us some feedback on what we sent you acknowledged that it was received. B give us a sense of when you're going to get back to us. And if you don't get back to us by that day, like we're going to follow up with you and check in to see if you have any questions or you have an opportunity to walk through with us.

So I think, um, we both get pressured hard on timeframes. Um, some agencies that I think hustle harder. Constantly get these last minute opportunities because they're just chasing a bunch of brands and they get some bites and they, they need to turn around real quick. So I think, um, some misconceptions are that agencies just are sending RPS and not going anywhere with them.

Um, so I think that's, that's one piece. Um, I think that, I think the next piece is your relationship point, right?

I don't, I don't think at the end of the day, uh, the agencies really are spending dollars with just their best friends. Uh, if that's the case, then, then we're all idiots. Um, but I, I don't think that's really happening. Um, I think. Inevitably, what happens is they spend dollars with riff the vendors that, that give them the most opportunity to make money for that agency to be profitable.

Um, and we all know that depending on the client, um, the, the margin is tight, uh, is incredibly tight. And so, um, you know, I think that's why you see the big deals that you see between the big guys and the big agencies. Uh, But I think I'm a smaller level. Uh, you know, it's, it's a, it's a back and forth game of empathy to understand how to support one another.

Um, and, and that may be rate that may be availability that may be a free data study that may be, you know, free vinyls. I don't know. Um, but you know, I think. I think that it is my hope is certainly, uh, with our agency, is that. There's no belief that we spend money with our best friends. It's just that I wouldn't allow that.

Um, maybe it's another agencies, but I would hope not. Like I said, I think that'd make us all look like it is. Um, do you have a specific misconception in your head that you want me to address? Not specifically. I think from a vendor stamp. Uh, we often make the mistake and I did this in the beginning of my career.

We see something boring, like, oh my God, why was that? But why weren't we bought? And we jumped to conclusions and I think we need to stop that. Actually. I think we need to be a lot better at communicating with one another. And this goes back to what you said, John, before. How not only do we negative sell against, you know, TV, radio, and print, what we negative sell against.

And we, we, we don't do enough to lift each other up. And one of the things I w I was on a call today with, uh, the head of a, another smaller independent agency and. My feedback was always, we should be bringing each other things to the table to help out. It's okay. If I don't get, if I introduce you to a client and you don't decide to that client doesn't want to spend with my company that's you didn't dishonor me.

You didn't do something wrong. You're working for that client. The introduction shouldn't be a quid pro quo. It should be. Hey, I think you could serve as this client. Great. Go run with it. I'm doing, I want to do what's right for the client. And I think we operate a lot too often transactionally, and I think that's a mistake and it's short-sighted um, you know, and I think we need.

We need to do a better job looking long-term and how, if we build these out, if we help each other, if we continue to work with each other and communicate with each other big, small, medium, whatever the case may be, it's gonna make us stronger and better. So really any misconception for that? I agree. I'm with you on that for sure.

Absolutely. Pardon me, excuse me. Now it was an excellent session. I think this is highly productive and thank you both for being a part of it. Uh, the more conversations like this are going to pay dividends in accomplishing the goals that we all want, which is to collaborate more and just do more for, out of home and deliver the best results for clients.

So thank you both for being. That's good. Thanks. My third and final question. I think I know that the answer is a, you can both answer simultaneously. Does pineapple belong up here? No, no, no, I didn't think so. And both knowing that there are two New York guys get at it. Hey, listen. Do you like pineapple on your pizza?