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Feb. 17, 2021

Episode 064 - Who is TPS Engage and what's the deal with $GME (GameStop) billboards?

Episode 064 - Who is TPS Engage and what's the deal with $GME (GameStop) billboards?

If you've been following the #GameStop stock saga, then you've probably seen some of the wild billboards that Redditors are putting up across the market.

Learn the story of the one that lit the powder keg and learn about the #DOOH DSP behind it -  TPS Engage.

See the original billboard here...

And connect with TPS Engage at...


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Welcome everybody to the out-of-home insider show, a podcast like no other hosted by the one and only Tim Rowe.

You ready to have some knowledge dropped on. You went to be entertained because nothing is more valuable than food for your brain. So sit back, relax. We're about to dive in as the best industry podcast is the bathroom.

And, you know, this conversation start and then you're like, damn it. I wish I had pressed record back then. And it just happens too many times. Um, so, so, you know, maybe we just, we can just start, cause I'm going to ask you the same questions. I'm not going to make answering twice. If it's just roll in. It's kind of like Joe Rogan, if you'd just roll in.

So like, You know, the way that, that the way that you came onto my radar was a little bit, uh, a little bit different than most folks do. It turned out that we were already connected because duh, that makes sense. But, uh, tell everybody a little bit about yourself and then maybe we'll, we'll get to know you a little bit better about, uh, some wall street bats.

Yeah. Um, so I guess I'm kind of the odd ball right in the out-of-home industry, uh, because. That's fair. That's fair. Uh, but my background is actually digital marketing. So I started off like something like 10 or 11 years ago. Now Jesus, uh, started working in PR initially. Then I moved into advertising at Leo Burnett, who places.

Then some e-commerce companies, what I did the whole, uh, the, of digital marketing ecosystem and in the meanwhile, at some point I co-founded, uh, T what is now TPS engage as like a side hustle project, but in time it became something, uh, that stood on its own two feet. So, and here we are now, basically. So tell me about CPS engaged.

Like, where do you fit into the ecosystem? Uh, well, uh, if we're going into technicalities, we're basically a DSP. So where we fit in is we bring demand to billboard owners. And the way we differentiate from other DSPs is that we do two things really well. Uh, one is our buying. So we go with, uh, what is called in most places, programmatic guaranteed.

So we we're firm believers that if. By how the, you should know exactly when your ad would run and what hours it will run in. And the second thing is dynamic creative. So we're from like the worship beds thing, I think is the best example. Uh, and so dynamic creative, what it is is real time. So we're firm believers in the power of creative for out of home.

And we try to make that as best as we can. Got it. That makes plenty of sense. I'm going to bring up, uh, sorry for the little pause there. I want to bring up the game, stop wall street. Best if you're not familiar with this story, uh, I think we're going to have a Messiah fill us in a little bit here. This is how you came across my radar.

Again, we were already connected, uh, but you certainly made a splash here and, uh, if you're not watching this on YouTube, then I'll link it out in the comments below, but this is awesome. This is awesome. And so what's the deal with is wall street, bets and game stop. Like I go there to buy my son video games.

Um, GameStop really gave stop to them. Yeah. So I came across the whole, I dunno what to call it. Initiative, community driven, uh, craze, I guess, uh, randomly. So, um, I am, uh, I use Reddit pretty often, which is funny enough because I'm originally from Europe and Reddit is not that popular in Europe. Yeah, but it's obviously huge in the U S so I used it.

I, uh, I use it and I started to see people kind of gathering around this community called wall street bets, and basically saying, Hey, let's stick it to the big guys. Let's go against the big hedge funds. And because. There's this trend of everyone becoming an amateur trader because of Robin hood and because of other apps that allow the average Joe to trade let's, do let's all band in together and show them that they can't manipulate the stock price just because they have billions of dollars at their disposal.

And that became a huge thing, I guess, that resonated with a lot of people because a lot of people started to buy what they call meme style. So basically they were buying stock that made no sense because in 2021, if somebody put pitch, gain stock to you as a company, you would laugh them out of the room.

Right, right. Right. If I, if I called you up with, Hey, I got a hot stock tip. You should buy games. Stop. Uh, probably not going to be very credible. So this started like a couple of weeks ago. Right? It's a fairly recent. Yeah. Uh, funny enough, the community was pretty big even before that. So it had like around 2 million people, I think, uh, and mostly they were talking, they were either making jokes about, uh, various other stocks or actually giving financial advice.

Well, not financial advice, but just saying what they're doing. And some people would follow with follow along, but I should, I should interrupt you. We need to read the list. The disclaimer, from our, uh, from our attorneys here, like this show is not a guarantee. The future earnings or to be perceived as financial advice.

All right. Continue. Yes. That's a good call. Thank you. Uh, so yeah, that's what they say as well. This is not financial advice, but there are a lot of people basically talking about the stock market. Um, and at some point, so they were like 1.5, 2 million people in that community now. Eight and a half million.

I checked it this morning, eight and a half million, like a week ago. It was 7.7, eight and a half million people on one subreddit. Pump it up. Yeah. Yeah. And there's a lot of amazing stories about this guy who is now kind of the Jesus of the, of this community called the roaring kitty, or that's a code name because they use a Reddit name is I think, deep fucking value for the, my friend.

Uh, But that's his username. And he made, he put in something like 50 K I think, early in the craze. And he made something like 40 something million dollars invested. Yeah. A lot of people on there, like that, like people that have no business investing, but they put in the $600 stimulus check they got and paying off houses and doing all sorts of crazy.

Yeah, of course, a lot of people also lost money. Cause there's like people who invested right at the top, uh, and they, they lost the money, but a lot of people also made money. Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting. Awesome. Do you, do you see, do you see the w where's the where's game stop today? Where's it trading today?

And how do you think that this all plays. Oh, I think funny enough, I think if GameStop is smart, they could actually use all of this to their advantage as a business because now there's like affinity towards the brand. Right. Uh, so they could definitely build something, uh, uh, by using this momentum. And I was reading that they hired executives to move the businesses we commerce and all that.

Who knows five years from now, we might be actually talking about GameStop, who is a serious content, therefore digital, um, digital games and selling know, maybe it becomes the next. How'd you find out, but it's a good opportunity for them. I don't think they expect that this kind of opportunity to come again.

Right? No kidding. Right. They were, they were packing their bags. Right. And last will and Testament that, that probably was about dead and this it's cool. Right? It shows, it shows truly the power of the people. And, um, you know, I've had a few conversations with, with some other folks, uh, on wall street bets we haven't recorded.

So this is first, this is exciting to be able to do, um, But just average average. Joe's like you said, I talked to a college kid the other day, uh, goes to BYU. He's plays Oregon for the men's choir. There just got married and, you know, set up a Roth IRA for him and his wife and figured like, oh, buy some of those GameStop stock.

And then what happened next was like the whole community just started doing billboards. Like. Here's some on the screen. It's so cool to see it. And my question to him was like, why, why are you doing a billboard? And he's like, honestly, I never thought I could afford it. One other Redditor like said he was doing a billboard for 20 bucks a day, and I figured I could buy a share of stock or I could maybe inspire some other people to get involved or, or to hold the stock.

So, I mean, the whole community has leaned into outdoor. What do you think that this does? Long-term I actually that's his billboard right there. The one down here in the middle of GME to the Mars, to Mars, the yellow and white, that's a, that's his billboard like, did you expect to see this sort of response about outdoor from the Reddit community?

Well, honestly, I hoped for it, obviously not expected and because it's easy to say you expect it now after you see it. Uh, but I was hoping at best maybe that people would get hyped about just the picture of a billboard. And I said, okay, that's so cool. Look at this. Two seconds up voted and then move on with their day.

But yeah, what happened was way more intense and the story of how the first billboard went viral. It's really funny actually, because, so the guy who posted it, uh, was a guy who saw something that I posted on a different separate it because, uh, the worst. Sub Reddit has a very tough automotive. It's a bot that moderates all the content, uh, and it just bands random content because with 8 million people there, of course, a lot of people are posting stuff that shouldn't be there.

Uh, so the poster of the billboard was not getting through, but this guy is so it's somewhere else and he posted. On the subreddit, uh, the, the thing you just show, you just showed. And then he actually, in the comments he added, he added the credit to, uh, to my Reddit account and also said, Hey, apparently you can book this here.

And he linked to our website, uh, which was crazy. I think if you scroll down, you'll see the comment as well. It should be pretty high up. Um, So what, while you search, I will say the rest of the story. So he posted that, and that was, uh, on Saturday. And we immediately saw an influx of a huge number of, uh, people coming, coming in.

Uh, I think it's a bit, uh, lower down coming in on the website, the website we needed to crash, to be honest, but thankfully we were all on call. So in like 10 minutes, it was up. Yeah. That's the one. So he posted this, uh, what the whole schedule of yes. There's, there's actually a, someone did a Google map, uh, with all the billboards.

How cool is that? I mean, look at this list. There's gotta be, there's gotta be billboards in 30, 40 cities, right? Yeah, something like that. So it's really cool. So the guy posted to our website, the website crashed, we then updated it. He sent in a new link. Uh, he then also, uh, he then also added another link to blip, uh, which I think is really amazing.

And I've seen a lot of people buying billboards and putting screenshots either from our platform or from, or from blood, which I think is really cool because yeah, it shows that it wasn't. Hey on link was there. So people clicked on it, but there was actually active interest, right? Because people were looking when they saw our website crashed because of the traffic, they were like, okay, what other solutions are there out there?

So they ended up going to other places as well, which I think is really cool for the entire industry. Good. For the end. It's the rising tide floats all boats theory. And we actually just had Brent Thompson from blip on the episodes just came out. So it'll be great to have the followup one too, because.

For the out-of-home industry, it really matters. Like these are real dollars that are going to real media owners and, um, and kind of preserving the beauty of outdoor, which is like the last bastion of free speech. When we, when we see, you know, there's so much conversation about the media and social media, um, and outdoor really has a special place there.

I think that that has long-term staying power for outdoor the opportunity right now, when we look at the media landscape, like outdoor has that superpower. Definitely. I still think it's so of course online has the possibility to give a voice to literally everyone. But I think what outdoor does really well is the.

It it's able to, it's still extremely accessible, but it's also a cleaner space of expression, right? It's more curated, which by default gives it trust and give, it gives us the possibility to, uh, build on something better than you can with a Facebook or Reddit or a Twitter post. Right. Because in online you have to filter.

The garbage, unfortunately, right. To find valuable content. Whereas in outdoor, you know, that if it's there, some people looked at it and said, yeah, this qualifies for it to be here. And if we are able to make that available to as many people as possible, I think that helps the entire. Yeah, I couldn't agree more.

Where for, for CPS, where, where do you fit into the market? Is it the small business who's trying to get on a billboard? Do you play with like more mid-market uh, advertisers is enterprise brands. Maybe it's a mix of, of all of the above. Like where's your. So I'd say it's somewhere between mid market and enterprise, uh, for mid-market the value is that we're able to book hourly slots.

So each, so each client that each brand knows that they want to reach people at a certain hour, especially in out of home. So we're able to offer that, uh, and for bigger clients we're able to offer. The dynamic creative possibilities, where we can link to their own data or our data, our public data and show custom content based on various triggers.

So we've had the best experience we initially started as very SME focused. But in time when you realized we were, uh, serving middle and enterprise clients better than. That's really interesting. And the dynamic creative, maybe can you, can you give a little more color to that? Like w what, what can I do as a brand, uh, with dynamic creative on digital?

Yeah. So actually explaining this, I think is the biggest challenge because the short answer is everything, but that means nothing, right? So nobody gets excited. When I say, Hey, you can do everything. Maybe, maybe like, what are the most common uses or the way that, that you think is most effective? So I think that the beauty of this is that if you have, if you know exactly what you want to say, you're able to deliver this message in a better context and impact more people.

So for example, we've, uh, we've worked with, uh, Uber eats. We did a really cool campaign in my opinion, uh, that decided to show different restaurants and. Uh, different, um, different food based on the proximity of the billboard to the restaurants. So the delivery rate basically, and, uh, reviews in the app. So you can say, if this is delivering in Manhattan, I want to show it on the billboard rather than just say all the pizza or order, whatever they can link their own data, for example.

So if they see that the certain area, uh, this, they haven't done, but this is something that can be done. Uh, if they see a certain area has a high demand for. I don't know, uh, Turkish shoots, they can show Turkish restaurants that deliver in that specific area. So that kind of dynamic. Yeah. When we say that any creative, that's what we refer to like show messages that are more relevant to people in proximity of that billboard automatically as much as possible.

Yeah, no, that makes sense. And how about inventory? Are there markets that, that you do exceptionally well? Is it, is it everywhere, international? Like what's, what's the inventory makeup look like? Um, so right now, I think in terms of, um, in terms of inventory, where are around 270,000 screens, so we found some screens.

Yeah. So 270 K uh, so we work mostly in. I think we have the best success in, uh, the us and Western Europe. Um, but we also have, uh, uh, inventory in Asia for example. So I lived in South Korea for the last year and a bit actually the whole COVID pandemic hit me when I was in South Korea. So that was a fun experience.

And you're in Romania now and coming back to the states here pretty soon. Yeah. Yeah. So I'm originally from Romania and I came here for the holidays and I'm here now, but coming to, uh, to the states. So you get to see, like you get this, like the, the, the world of, out of home. Where, where do you, where do you think like domestically here in the United States?

And we can, we can extrapolate this conversation a little bit because. A lot of the audio audiences here domestically, the YouTube audience is mostly international. Like what, what do you think is interesting about the composition of the global out-of-home market? Since you are obviously traveling a lot, but, but you're at the tip of the spear here.

Yeah. So definitely the us is by far the most mature market when it comes to out of home that it has diversity, uh, it has premium inventory and it has probably the, some of the most amount of data that it can offer advertisers. It's interesting. For example, In South Korea. Uh, and I'll talk about it for a second because I'm more familiar with it.

Uh, out of home is extremely exclusive, so they don't really, of course everyone likes money. So of course they accept advertisers there, but the attitude towards it is more exclusive and more, um, they don't really want to position it as, um, A channel that anyone can jump into and do things that I think it's because of the culture.

It's also because they want to, they want to have bragging rights for being there. So they're not really fans of pushing transparency and democracy when it comes to out of home. Um, in Europe, especially in Eastern Europe, uh, since it's still a developing market, when it comes to digital, out of home, I think a lot of things are happening really fast and.

We're actually kind of burning some stages and skipping some steps. It's the same that happened with the internet here because we got the internet infrastructure later than the U S and more developed markets. Now, now we have some of the fastest internet out there because the infrastructure that came was already high end when.

Um, so I think we're kind of rushing through the digital, the form expansion phase in Eastern Europe. Um, and then Western Western Europe, I think it's kind of a mix of both. So it's somewhere in my opinion between, uh, between Eastern Europe and the us, because it has really premium inventory, but it also has a lot of smaller screens in our locations and stuff.

Yeah, that's awesome. It's, it's great to know that you have inventory available internationally. Um, cause it's, um, it's a smart approach that you're taking. I'm really compelled and I'd love to continue this conversation. After, after the episode here for folks that do want to learn more, where should they go?

How do they, how do they get in touch with. Uh, so it's pretty easy TPS, engaged.com. If they, we have a pretty unique name, so we're easy to find. And in my case, I did put my social media on private for a second. When the Reddit craze started, cause I was kind of concerned, but, but now they're open as well.

So, uh, my name again, if they search my name, they usually find my socials and everything really. Cool. Well, we'll make sure that, uh, that, that, that your name and everything is linked out in the, in the description below. What are you most excited about in 2020? Uh, I'm really exciting. I think it's, uh, I'm really excited about the bounce back right about the home.

So 2020 was a difficult year for the entire industry, but I think now, uh, with things like this happening and people starting to talk about going outside, uh, going outside via our billboards and we're only in February, right. February just started. So I'm excited about really cool and creative things that can happen this year.

Because I feel there's a lot of pent up excitement. People have been staying in doors for so long and I'm, I'm speaking for myself here, but I'm tired. I'm exhausted of seeing the CSUN. It just snowed for two days straight here. And it was the most cost or phobic feeling. Cause I'm like, All right. Like I'm already mostly stuck at home cause it's cold and it's the Northeast and it's, and it's, you know, January, February, then it snowed for two days straight.

We got 30 inches of snow and the whole time I'm thinking, I'm like, even if I could go out, there's nowhere to go. What, what a strange feeling? Just a, and my friend, Rick Robinson from Bellville put it best. Like we, we own the word out. Right. Like the world is coming back outside here in a few months. And, uh, it's going to be an exciting time for out of home.

I think I I'm with you there, are you a podcast guy? Uh, uh, are you a reader? Where do you go for education? Motivation, inspiration. Uh, I then listen to a couple of podcasts, but they've recently started. So I'm still kind of discovering them. I do watch a lot of, a lot of YouTube and I read a lot of articles as well, um, into, honestly, I kind of hate myself for this, but it's been harder and harder to.

Sit down and actually, uh, read books because of all the fast paced things that are happening today. And I've actually recently discovered the marketing pickup. And I know this sounds so counter-intuitive because they fuck it for anything. Come on. We just talked about Reddit for 20 minutes. Yeah. So yeah, there's, what's the tick tock tick tock marketing.

What's marketing. Marketing tick-tock is basically people talking about marketing. Even if I'm talking, I haven't seen a lot of comments on outdoor, by the way. Um, funny enough, the one of the guys, yeah, the guys from New York post that picked up the billboard that we did found it on tape talking. 'cause I just posted it on my personal account.

Cause I was like, okay, the algorithm is pretty nice. So why not? Let's get some free viewers. Maybe it gets, it gets picked up and it did. And I've started to follow some very specific accounts that talk about SEO, marketing, uh, PBC marketing, um, growth hacking and stuff like that. But I haven't seen one in specifically for outdoor marketing, I guess, guess what?

The first post is going to be this episode out of home insiders, go into Tik TOK. You might even get a dancer too, because like, all right, this is, if you hate yourself for not reading more, I hate myself for, uh, for the fact that I've been thinking about. I could be a really good Tik TOK dancer. So now you've inspired me.

I can talk about marketing and do dance. Seems like a sweet spot. Yeah. And multitasking is like the main thing now. Right? You listen to a podcast while you read, and while you do a dance, if you're not productive, you're ruining your life. When I buy books, I bought, I buy the audio. And the book and I read the book while listening to the book and that's redundant.

So, uh, so why not go on Tik TOK? Awesome. It's been awesome. This has been a lot of fun. We'll, uh, we'll have to do like a year in review after we've done a whole bunch of campaigns and, and to check in, see what happens to, uh, to the diamond hands. Definitely. I love that. Awesome. Hey, if you found this episode to be entertaining, helpful, please share it with somebody else who you think might enjoy.