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Nov. 23, 2020

Episode 055 - Nick Haggard, Alpine Media (Director of Sales)

Episode 055 - Nick Haggard, Alpine Media (Director of Sales)

Join Nick Haggard of Alpine Media as we breakdown what the 2020 ski and snowboard season looks like for advertisers.

Could it be the best year yet for brands looking to connect with the most refined ski and snowboard audience yet?

How will travel restrictions impact the industry for brands and advertisers and what are the unique opportunities that Alpine Media that offers their clients?

Find out how the ski lift and ski resort advertising company got started and where they're going in this episode.

Connect with Nick on LinkedIn at...

And check out Alpine Media at...

Special thanks to OOHTalent.com for making this conversation possible!

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Started by 3 industry vets, Kym Frank (Geopath), Andrea Henley and Daione Sanders to connect OOH companies with OOH talent.

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Welcome to out-of-home insider the loudest voice in out of home. Today's guest is going to bring us up to date on the world that we're all excited to, uh, to get into the world of skiing and snowboarding winters. Almost here. We've got Nick Haggard, he's the director of direct and programmatic sales at Alpine media.

And he's going to inform us about what the outlook is for the ski season and how you can take advantage of the very unique assets that Alpine has. Nick. Thanks for being. Uh, thank you. I appreciate it. This is a, this is a fun conversation today. It's so always fun for me to talk about skiing and snowboarding.

It's my ultimate passion. It's the passion of our founders as well. So it's always fun to sit down and kind of talk about not only the ski season that we get with coming, approaching, but also then how we're amplifying our, uh, customer engagement across, across the ski resorts. Yeah, for sure. Right? Like it's out of homes, fun.

Um, but if you're a skier or snowboarder, I'm sure it's like a lot of fun to work for a media company that specializes in helping ski resorts. Exactly. Well, Hey, I, I, uh, found passion. I've been in the role of media for a long time, uh, or it's an iHeart radio for a very long time. So. Pretty much the soul, everything in the world of media, outside of broadcast television.

Uh, and it's really interesting getting into the out-of-home space now for the past four years and seeing the difference it is, you know, it's, it's definitely a comradery in the world of out-of-home media that I've never experienced before in the role of radio or digital media. It's, it's, it's a different scene.

So it's been exciting for, for, for my growth, uh, and also for our company to really see and get more partnerships within the world of out-of-home. Yeah, it definitely has its own unique subculture. And I think that's kind of, that's a lot of the appeal to it is, uh, you can come up with any idea and you want to sell space somewhere out of the home and welcome to the community.

Now you're an out of homey, so it's pretty cool. The culture behind it is same thing. I came from a digital marketing background where it was just cutthroat. We're all trying to take each other out here. It's really, it's really been a, been a helpful. Collaborative environment. So why don't you tell everybody who's listening?

What is Alpine media and how is it that you help brands position in front of ski resort? Attendees? Yeah, that's a good first place to start, right. Is explaining actually who we are. Uh, so, so Alpine media really started, uh, in a car ride up to winter park ski race. Uh, the founders were very engaged with the national sports center for the disabled up there.

They have a disabled skiers and snowboarders get back on with. Uh, and, and we're, we're, we're helping out that weekend as far as getting people out and showing them where island mountain, uh, the tough thing that they were talking about on the way up to the ski resort was, man, I really wish in real time, I knew if the run from top to bottom was going to be.

Or if the top of the mountain was negative 30 degrees with 30 mile per hour winds. And I wouldn't take some of my disabled participants there. Thankfully sitting in that car was an aerospace engineer who was able to develop the idea of our patent in world's first ever digital displays on chairlifts.

So, uh, that was the, what, what created outline was, uh, really an information based platform, um, to get real information to better the experience for skiers, right. Uh, from there, it just grew, um, once we started getting into resorts, uh, they asked, well, where else can you provide this type of information?

This is valuable for, for our skiers and riders. Where else can you put? So that's when we started to get more into the world of digital, out of home and create placements across the entire ski resort. So from, from ticket office to welcome centers, to, uh, food halls, um, to big outdoor displays, Uh, for those of you that are listening, that are skiers are snowbirds, you know, it's.

Uh, the world of skiing is very antiquated in the form of communication that they're able to provide the skiers and riders. It's a lot of times it was little like literally whiteboards at the bottom of a chairlift that would tell you the snow totals or if there was a missing child. Um, so that's what really also amplified our growth is that resorts were wanting this, you know, ability to communicate with the resource, have multiple touch points across.

Uh, and that's how it kind of, then it can see me with all of them looking at our financial model then began well. Hey, it makes sense for a relevant brands to be able to message this audience. Uh, so that's when we moved past just being an information based SAS model for ski resorts to also then, uh, having the opportunity to select resorts, to also have a digital out of home advertising placement as well using out of home to create a more immersive experience for.

You know, the folks that are there, which I'm sure adds value to their experiences. Is that something that's a value proposition for the ski road resorts that you work with? Is that how they're looking at it? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. You know, there's two different sides of the business, you know? Um, I'm, I'm talking to resorts, um, when we're talking about the value that we bring to the resort, um, the ability for them to not only provide valuable information, as far as location, where someone should ski across the mountain.

Um, but that. This person, crowds is a big one, all ski resorts. We're looking to do that, especially in the world. COVID promoting specific promotions. They have going on across the mountain marketing can get on there and create a list of events that are going on across the mountain. And then for safety protocols too, you know, if there is a missing child, if there is an avalanche danger imbalance, these are things that they can take over all of our displays and, and communicate that to the guests in real time.

Yeah. I mean, going from a whiteboard to a real-time alert and entertainment and content and ad platform is pretty incredible. How do you see COVID impacting park attendance over the, yeah, so, so that's a big one for us right now. And this is working with the geo path on this, you know, really trying to get our on it through, on what those oppressions look like.

We're expecting anywhere between a 15 to 20% decrease in visitation and it was just rallying. Um, The big thing that's interesting to look at is that domestic travel we expect to be up. Um, so people, so, um, I live in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Um, we expect more visitation from Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, people that are driving people that want to get out of the city.

Um, and you know, data has already shown that from occupancy reports here in the mountains, we're actually seeing more visitation in the past two months that we've seen. The year prior. So, so domestic travels up, it's all this, the, the one international travel is going to be almost close to zero. There's not going to be much international travel with scheme.

And then, then there's going to be a decrease in, in traveling over state lines to go to school. Uh, so, you know, those decreases outweigh the increase of domestic visitation. So we do see a decrease in total attendance, which we've factored into all of our impression counts, uh, and. It's interesting because it kind of reminds me of like, like the value of a database, right.

Email marketing, where we all hate unsubscribes, but ultimately what you're left with after people on subscriber are the most curated audience. And you sort of have a similar scenario playing out here in that the audience that will be there is a really intense ski audience. Is that, is that a fair assessment?

Yeah. And you know what? I think you hit on a good point too. I'm excited about it as an avid skier. When you look at that last year, veil released a picture, a video of someone going up the chairlift on a powder day on the weekends that showed a lift line that literally went from the base of their gondola almost halfway up the mountain.

I think I had just turned around and walked out. I think this will be a benefit for the skier experience and the fact that yes, it will start limiting visitation on the big days. And that's what a lot of resorts are doing is that, you know, there's not going to be a huge difference on the Monday through Fridays.

Um, it's going to be those big weekend days that have a big powder or big holiday, you know, MLK day, um, Columbus day, you know, they're going to have to create some form of capacity, max. I think in the reality of a skier, I think that's gonna be great. You know, I think there'll be the core audience there. I think we would probably willing to spend even more money on their passes, knowing if they didn't have to stand in a 15 to 20 minute line, you know?

So I think there will be benefits that come out of this to, uh, um, they're all, they're all going to be some negatives. That's just the world that we're living in. And, and, and the fact though that reserves are going to be open and people can get outdoors and doing what they love. That's that's the, what the focusing.

Absolutely. And Nick, you lead up the sales team, uh, direct and programmatic. How does a brand come to buy Alpine media programmatically, programmatically? We're tied into vis stars, camp, um, um, SSP, which, uh, Vistar is, is incredible. They're really taken taking the reins and running with, uh, bringing programmatic into the digital, out of home space.

They're pretty much now. Partnering with tons of desert DSPs that can have access to their inventory. So really being the hub for anyone who wants to get access to, to, to the out of home space, um, whether it's, whether it's static or whether it's digital, they're doing it both. Uh, yeah, so, so it's an exciting time because every single year we see more and more interest, more and more excitement, you know, from conversations this week with, with kinetic and their programmatic team, you know, they see excitement on being able to.

To move and manage money in a way where if, if the ski resorts are open and mobiles are closed or major sporting venues are closed, uh, you know, it's pretty easy to just move money in the programmatic space. Uh, to still be able to provide, uh, a successful overworking campaign. Uh, and that's the value the Vista is bringing the world of out of home is, is more access to, uh, programmatic channels, which I think, I think we'd all agree were a lot of digital media.

Right. And coming from a buy-side background, the ability to move money on the fly like that, instead of calling up a vendor and saying, Hey, I got to cancel this and trying to get out of a contract and try and get Spacebook tier. Yeah. I can do it from my computer and just shift the money beyond just that.

What, what are you hearing is the appeal programmatically from, by. For buyers. I think it is just at its ease of adding to their omnichannel approach. Uh, you know, meaning that. There were other forms of mediums that are easier to purchase, you know, simple, um, you know, the world of digital SCM, SEO, all of it can be done, you know, with clicking some buttons and hitting go.

Um, you know, at-home really, hasn't had that capability, digital changes that, and the fact that now digital out of home has the ability to kind of get into this type of marketplace where someone can go and. Um, and take all of their mediums from, from radio to digital, to, um, to connected TV, to now digital out of home and do it all in one, one ease of, of a programmatic platform.

And I think that's, that's the big thing, um, for the supply side, for, for my end, where I love so much about it too, is that, you know, we have limited inventory. That's something that we've promised. All the resorts are something that we've kind of held to us. We're going to keep a very limited amount of. It is great for me within the Vista platform to see creative come through that, I get to look at it and I get to approve it or deny it.

You know, that's, that's something that, uh, in the world of programmatic is not normal. Normally it's all in real time. Uh, for, for us, the fact that this doctor has provided that is key for our ability to engage on the programmatic channels is to kind of see what. What partners are trying to come through, what ads are coming through, you know, not accepting everything, keeping it very clean and beautiful, which across all those places is our ultimate goal.

The, the immediate thought is, you know, ski and snowboard brands make sense to do this, but what are some brands or categories that should be considering this type of audience that maybe traditionally haven't. Yeah. And I love you asked that question because when I first came into this role, I thought, man, it, you know, tech brands in the ski world, ski apparel, man, this is going to be easy.

Uh, in reality, they don't spend a lot of our marketing dollars. Uh, so really our biggest partners have been in other verticals. Healthcare has been a huge one for us. Education has been a big one for us. Uh, alcohol, uh, for those of you that are skewed or somewhere out there, you know how great it is at the end of the day to have a, have a beer, have a bourbon, you know what I mean?

Uh, so those are brands that, that resonate, uh, fitness brands, you know, those people that are, you know, the, the new, um, theater, guns, and high prices out there, you know, those, those massaging tools, uh, you know, th those have been big ones for us, people that are willing to spend on a Peloton, that's definitely a Ronnie.

So, yeah. You know, it's been way more than just, uh, ski brands we've actually done better with, with other industries out there. Auto being another one. Auto is a big one for us as well. Interesting. Maybe elaborate on auto because it's a category that out of home has struggled with as of late and the way that automotive.

Buys marketing has changed significantly. Right. They want everything tied back to an attributable and attributable action, uh, you know, ideally a clicker or a car sale. How are you having that conversation with automotive about the value of out of home? Yeah. Um, there's, there's two things on that. Uh, one is.

We always talk about our audience. I mean, that is by far the most value that we have to any client out there is that we have access to the ski resort audience, unless you are a resort partner, which is our high dollar figures. There's no other advertising medium within ski resort. It's simply on the digital side of things.

Uh, so, so that's the biggest one is, Hey, if you want a fluent active audience, uh, that is in a very uncluttered type of advertising environment. And the second is what we're doing posts on mountain experience. We're not just serving ads and saying impressions only. We're also creating geo-fences around the resort, gaining mobile IDs and making sure that we connect with these resort visitors.

Once they've left them out to, um, you know, most, most visitors to the mountain will be there for about three days. Is that enough time to make a purchase for a Peloton? For an example, maybe not, you know, for, for a BMW know, maybe not. So, but we know that the audience is a key audience that hasn't. Um, potential to be a key consumer for a BMW or a Peloton.

So, so we make sure that from mobile desktop run SEM, we run connected TV. Um, we make sure that we connect what these resort visitors post their own mountain experience to show conversions. And do you manage okay. And do you manage all of that for the advertiser or do you pass data back or do you do. We do it all.

Yeah, we do it all. We run, we run the campaigns ourselves. Uh, we have an internal software that we built that helps us, uh, with not only, uh, the tactics of, of retargeting, but then also for reporting, uh, analytics. Uh, we, we, we personally purchased an off the trade desk, which is a very. Um, reputable source of, of publications out there, uh, at a very cost effective way to, to, to get these impressions.

So, yeah, it's been a very big, uh, growth for us in the past couple of years, uh, outside of just doing the. On mountain displays, we really extended our AR enabled. So speaking of growth, you talked about limiting the inventory and creating that exclusivity behind it. How do you grow? How does Alpine media grow while still remaining exclusive media?

Um, so how does, how does that work with media growth? Yeah. Just how do you see Alpine media growing, growing your share of the pie by limiting inventory? Uh, and while retaining that exclusivity component? Yeah. Hey, you know, this is, this is the current strategy that I don't see changing. You know, we want to be an exclusive platform.

We want to have brands that do resonate with our audience and make sense. Uh, the big thing for us is that. You know, we continue to grow across the resorts. Uh, my inventory continues to grow every single year substantially. Um, thankfully resorts are seeing value in the displays that we're providing the information that we're showing the guests.

Um, You know, that's, that's the, that's the ease. This is how we continue to have exclusivity. As we continue to grow our inventory across multiple different resorts. Um, we are going, we are now all the way from Maine to California last week, we were extending now across the entire us, but there are pockets of ski resorts.

So we, we can continue to reach out to that, that serve valuable DMS. You know, um, you know, you wouldn't think about, uh, what you said mountain, um, being a key reach of the Boston DMA. But when we look at the demographic breakdown, it is Ohio. Uh, I in a fluid consumer that is coming from Boston, that's a typical skier there.

So, you know, how do we continue to do the same thing across and across resource that are reaching the New York city market that are reaching, um, you know, within Vermont or New Hampshire, uh, you know, there's. There's new locations that we continue to explore and grow in, which is our ultimate Roundup keeping exclusivity, but a growing our total.

Yeah, it's interesting. Cause I'm out in like Northwest New Jersey. Um, and while we don't have, I think we've got one ski Mount mountain Creek, not too far from here. Uh, if you look at like the Poconos region, Eastern Pennsylvania, Try to drive to Pennsylvania on the weekend and you will be backed up from the toll, probably five miles in New York city traffic.

It's in my opinion, such an undervalued market for exactly that reason. So it's interesting that you're looking at and considering the audience movement, how do you. Is that something you look out on the front end of a campaign or potentially working with with an advertiser, is that part of the assessment process of the, of the resort and the inventory that could be there?

Where do you factor that in? Or is it multiple places in the value chain as a growing company? I wish that we did always have the ability to look forward and understand the inventory that was going to be available, but. And that's not the case. I mean, we're constantly having new partners coming on this season last year.

We got to tell you ride on one, one, you know, midway through the ski season. You know, that's, that's hard, that's hard to, to, uh, look at revenue projections and look at the inventory optimization. In a scenario like that, but Hey, it's just our situation. Uh, it, it's great. You know, the fact that we're totally fine adding inventory, even if it is not an ideal place.

And at the timing, you know, the big thing that we're trying to do is normally towards the end of ski seasons is when we are talking to new resorts, beginning of the process, um, you know, for something like our digital technology, you know, it's not only a big capital investment on our part. Um, but it takes some time.

And then we have to go in there and, and, uh, and, and for, for something like a winter park, we have 624 displays across their chairlifts and that takes some time. Joe's on the chairlifts. Yeah. So yeah. So recognize. So we're always trying to get ahead of it, uh, when we can. Uh, but then we're also recognizing that it's, it's something that if it comes in at a bedtime and we're still gonna do everything within our power to get everything up and running and functional before the season, or even before.

What if a resort already has some screens on the premises and they're just looking for, uh, a better way to, to optimize and monetize those screens. Is that, is that something that you work with? Oh yeah, for sure. You know, we, we have tons of different pricing options from, um, from a SAS model to including advertising and then rev share based off of that.

Uh, and then also with, with displays, you know, we have a partnership with Samsung, uh, so you know, our ability to, to purchase, uh, Indoor and outdoor TVs, which I think probably a lot of people don't recognize how expensive out of home TVs, outdoor outdoor TVs actually are. Give it, give us some idea how much, I mean, they're there 10,000 plus.

There was no, th those are not cheap displays, but, uh, so, so they already have displays. Thankfully we have our own, our own software, you know, it's, it's, it's simple, it's an easy type of plug and play type situation. We always do customize it for the location. So whether it's a ski resort, um, or whether it's a large lodge at the base, we customize it for their facility.

So it'll have their logo on it. It'll have information relating to. To whether there was order or their location. Um, and we always have a control center for the resort and or the location to, uh, to update information themselves. So that's a big part of the partnership is, is they're ingrained in it. You know, they have the ability to go in there and change any information.

That's, that's up there add new information each day. Uh, they have the capability development and Nick professional stuff aside. What are you most excited about right now? I'm excited for the skis. Excuse me, to start, uh, you know, as a. As we talked about at the beginning of this, you know, uh, it's, it's a passion that I have, uh, it's past my family things.

Uh, my, I have a little girl who is three, uh, and this is her second season she's going into, so, so, uh, at the age of two, she was already learning the plow, how to do pizza and French fries. Uh, this year is going to be a big growth for her. And I'm excited to be part of that as much as. Very cool. Very cool.

And are you a podcast guy, your reader for motivation education, podcasts, and a reader, a reader it's typically always business stuff. I need to get back into my fiction that I love so much. And podcasts has been a big one for me. Um, during the Workday during commuting, uh, podcast is a big one for me, not only on the side of business, but also.

Uh, with some stuff that just takes my mind off of for sure. Totally great. I usually read the whole Harry Potter series around this time, but I don't, I don't read it. That's a big claim. I listened to it. Uh, I listed the voice actor who narrates the Harry Potter series. I don't know if there's an award for narrators of books, but it is.

He's excellent. It does all the voices. It's great. So I, I fully appreciate, uh, the candid answer of that. It's so important, right? Like it's easy to just work, work, work, work, work, but you got to recharge those batteries to be creative, to clear the space out. So it's fun to definitely dive into that. Nick, how people here a couple of weeks, I'll be able to put the skis on and feel my thrill.

Absolutely. I'm excited for you. I'm excited for all of us. And it's definitely exciting to hear that you're expecting a good season, good turnout, and a great opportunity again, to reach a really specific curated audience. So I appreciate all that insight, Nick, where should people go to connect with you?

Learn more about. At Alpine media.com. Um, and you'll see that we have other lines of business outside of just ski resorts. We have now started getting into the theme parks, uh, hos uh, senior care facilities. So we're continuing to grow in different verticals. Um, so if there's interests outside of around HS and ski resorts, we have different audiences out there.

That we can connect with. And then LinkedIn, I'm very active on LinkedIn. Please connect with me. Uh, that's the social media channel that eyebrows through and I love commenting and reading other articles. So the only thing that's important for me to look at, please, please. And Nick makes great videos and really beautiful places too.

So you should follow them. Oh man, I got get my little girl, some prompts. She's been, uh, he, these three and I guess I got Nora my 10 month old involved in some of those videos too, but she definitely helped create some good content. And I promise this, this season when we actually can be on the slopes, um, to provide him a better, uh, fun videos to, to pay attention.