Jonathon WolfeBarron isn't a newcomer to out of home, but he definitely has an unorthodox story about how he came to be here.
Coming from a logistics background, and recognizing a gap in the mobile advertising space, Jonathon found he had the solution for a big problem facing the industry - measurable performance, clean trucks, and premium customer service.
With a creative-first focus, Jonathon's team at Rolling Adz is helping brands reach their target audience while helping drivers to better provide for their families.
So, what do you do when crisis strikes and the highways are relatively empty?
Go HYPER local.
Jonathon talks about how he hatched the idea for Rolling Adz in the 2008 crisis as a way to supplement revenue. No, you didn't read that wrong - he started selling advertising on his trucks during the most recent economic crisis and his insight as to what to do in this current crisis in invaluable.
To connect with Jonathon, find him here on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathonwolfebarron/
Or check out Rolling Adz at: https://rollingadz.com/
As always, you can connect with me at:
Welcome to the out of home insider show, the loudest voice in out of home. We're bringing you tips tricks, and especially insider insights to help you be more effective and more efficient. My guest today, very special guest Jonathan Wolf, Baron he's out on the west coast. So we're exchanged on a little bit of a time difference here, but he is not immune to the world around us and what's going on.
So we're going to talk about that today, but like, I like to start with every guest. Jonathan tells. Yeah, we were talking about a little bit before we turned on here. You're not a traditional, you're not a media guy. You're, you're a trucking guy and you've got a mobile advertising company. Where'd you come from?
How'd you get to out of home? Uh, I came from a small town in upper Michigan. Um, and how I got an out of home was we were a family trucking company originally in 2008, hit kind of what we're getting into right now. And, um, things went bad. And so we were like, we gotta find a way to make some extra revenue.
Um, we were hauling for some pretty big companies, um, Miller brewery, you know, Coors light, that kind of stuff, and said, Hey, let's start wrapping our trucks and see if I can get some, you know, extra income here. Uh, took that platform and moved out to the west coast, got sick of the Michigan winners. And, um, we've scaled since then.
And, um, done things definitely more. Hyper-local just in the cities themselves. And then right now, We're really hyper-local and doing home deliveries, hospitals, and open business. So there's, there's a few things I want to unpack there. And the first is that 2008, 2009, you know, the, the most memorable recession that we can compare right now to, um, and in that moment, you pivoted from being a logistics freight company.
Into being an advertising company. And right now there's advertising companies hitting the panic button. How did that experience, how is that translating to right now and how you're currently handling the climate? Um, we've always kind of been on the bottom of the funnel, uh, which isn't always a good place to be, but it's been a, it keeps you hungry.
It keeps relentless. And that's what our team's been based on. Going from delivery trucks to advertising and there's, I can go into the hype of, you know, people are like, there's no control. There's no tracking. There's no, you know, are they clean trucks? Um, we've solved all those problems over the years that the original narrative that people have had with it.
Um, and right now it's, it's a beautiful time because these drivers are there on the roads. They just cut all regulations on the trucks. Literally, we can't keep up with demand. So these guys were on the road 16 hour days, um, literally hitting 400 plus homes on average. Um, hospitals, open businesses. It's been, it's been phenomenal.
And so now finally, we've been on this, like on a platform like, oh, Hey bird on transit buses or something. That's do some trucks where now it's like, wow, you guys are the only people on the roads right now. This is awesome. And so we're getting a lot of, a lot of cool brands are reaching out that we've never even thought about targeting.
So you're seeing new business right now. Is that correct? Yes. There's a lot of people listening to this that would be especially interested in hearing more about that. Are you, is this active outreach to these brands that you've maybe had conversations with in the past? You said that some of them are completely brand new.
Talk to me more about the new business side that you're seeing right now. I mean, we're the hyper-local is a new market. People are moving and. Three weeks ago you were talking to me. I was, I was losing my mind cause I'm like, you know, are a lot of our targets were event base, you know, sporting events. Our trucks were, you know, we do kind of what, like rapid fire does.
They call it the swarm, we call it convoys, um, where, you know, we activate them and they circle around the area. Um, incentivize the drivers that way. And just real quick for anybody that hasn't seen your trucks, we're not talking about like a of line vans with, you know, some billboards on the back. You've got like real trucks, like, are these CDL class, like these are, these are big trucks.
They're there gets that. Yeah, they're not the, um, I grew up in like the big semi-trucks the problem with those. We won state to state. Uh, there's no control there. Sit down and docs a long time. Our trucks are the ones that have moved around. Do your last minute deliveries. Um, and so they're, they're 26 feet.
They're 500 square feet. It's a, it's a big advertising platform. And. Right. There's there's, there's tiny homes that are smaller than the footprint that you're able to offer. And for me, like in researching you and getting prepared for this, that was my first reaction. When I went on the website, I was like, holy crap.
These, these are like big kid trucks. These are. Something you bought off the lot down at the Ford dealership. These are, these are big trucks. Are they specially retrofit or something to be able to, to handle static advertisement? What, what's the, how are you able to maintain a clean fleet and be consistent in delivering, you know, a great campaign?
Um, I actually had, I had a great conversation, um, in February with Rick Robinson and that's what he said. And he goes, you know, we bought trucks before, but that was a problem. This is a cleanliness it's controlled. You know, we're not theirs, we're not the first company to do this, but I think we're the first company that innovated in a sense of like, Hey, let's put some accountability here, this put some quality and that's actually make this an advertising medium that people can utilize.
And so, you know, our trucks, we're not running old trucks. All the trucks are five years or newer. Um, they're, you know, there's no side doors, there's no rails on the side of it. And they're just, they're clean advertising. And we work directly with the truck drivers. We don't work with the big fleets and stuff.
I mean, I, I have 15,000 trucks right now. Um, probably have access to over a couple hundred thousand if I wanted to open up that can of worms, but we were really working on just the local guys. The small entrepreneurs are trying to make money where, you know, we're, we're paying them, you know, four or five times more than anybody's ever paid.
And it's directly going into the pockets. They're subsidized for it. And it's, you know, it's a, it goes right, you know, helps feed their families and stuff. And, um, that's where my heart's been and just helping these guys. And so now, like, you know, you look at these, you know, delivery relief campaigns. It's like, we've been doing that all the time.
And I that's been my model. Just take care of people, take care of my installers, take care of everybody. And you know, business will naturally grow. And, um, I never didn't have a big investor when I started this business. I didn't have anybody and just spending literally from grassroots up and we've cashflow since day one.
And that's really important, right. Especially right now. And we're seeing it. We're seeing which companies were actually strong cash flow company. Before, because they're there a lot of the weekends that are folding right now. So you approach this 2008 recession, right? Limited resources, and just sort of laid everything out on the table and said, all right, what do I have to work with?
We have the family business here. We're involved with this are these big rolling things that go around. I've got five. You know, square feet of surface space. I can sell that space. Right? Where is the retention? And can I monetize that attention? You essentially looked at all the pieces and put it together.
And what you just described. It does sound a lot like grappa five. It does sound like similar, you know, mission-driven purpose, but with really big trucks, that is that a sort of fair. And you're like, I'm so glad wrap. If I came into the picture because. I felt like I was running the same by myself. Like there's like, who else is in the wrap space right now?
Like, you know, let's get through this, get some monk, you know, movement here. And actually my VPs, I think he's having a conversation with James later on this weekend. It's great. And Dave seller was the first episode and my son presented him with a dummy hand grenade, uh, on said episode. So James is a great guy.
Um, you guys definitely, it sounds like having a similar mission and it makes sense that I love what he's doing and you know, like I said, it's, it's really cool right now because all these guys are coming from. Yeah. A lot of people are like, oh, car wraps versus truck wraps. You guys are competition. It's like, no, man, we're we can, we can all work together.
Posters, man. It's billboards and posters. That's it. It's a bulletin on the side of the highway and a poster in the neighborhood. It's the exact same thing. Exactly. And so that's, I love it. I mean, I've taught, like you said, you know, we're talking to Jonathan with a led truck media. We're putting the packages together.
We're helping it's just right now is a really cool time. Everyone's you know, they got a little more time on their hands. We're able to talk. Um, and just really help grow this out of home industry and this whole mobile billboard, uh, rolling ad community. And so it's just really cool. I love what's going on.
I think it's, it's important to use the time right now to do that sort of thing, right? Because there's all this fragmentation. And if we think about these are just different formats, right? Jonathan is, is a digital billboard, Jonathan, from knowledge you truck me, he's a digital billboard and James has the posters and you've got the bulletins in a traditional out of home company.
It would just be one company, right? I have all of those things. I have digital billboards. I have bulletins and I have posters. Which would you like? But there's this fragmentation because these businesses have grown out of like you described different needs or opportunities in the market. So to hear that there's an effort sort of behind the scenes to all right, we need to align here to make it easier for advertisers to do campaigns with us.
What are some of the ways that you make it easy for an advertising? W like what, what's your process? I call you up Johnson. I want to do a campaign. I want to wrap some trucks. Some of your creative will have it on their own three days. So it's, can you target by audience? Do you have that conversation? Who are you trying to reach?
Like what market are you trying to be? Does a lot of that direction come down from the agency side. Do you do much direct what's the lanes? Well, in the beginning agencies wanting to talk to us, they're like, oh, trucks, they're dirty grungy. Get outta here. Um, and then we're like, no, they're they're quality.
They're new. They're awesome. We got drivers. I, um, I did a 24 hour fitness campaign. We worked with them for the last four years and I mean, all our drivers, actually, we paid for memberships for them, you know, we're wearing our finished shirts. They're in up flyers. I mean, they're, they're, they're like brand ambassadors for you.
And you know, if they're doing like deliveries for like Amazon or something, like, you know, we're able to fine tune all these routes. Like, I mean, that's my background's logistics. And so, Hey, we want to target the zip code. Wanted to be at a three to five mile radius. Okay. We got it. And so we'll send you a route proposal.
Here's a, here's our route, here's your competitors locations. Our drivers like said we take care of these guys. So they're, they're driving your competitors locations that they love it. Do you have a snap pictures in front of it for you? Um, you know, and then on the whole like app side right now, we're it's really cool timing.
Cause we're, we're, fine-tuning our app. Get some attribution into it showing live impression. Um, able to retarget. So a lot of stuff that like rapid fire has right now, I've been trying to do that, but like I said, I'm grassroots, no investors. So I got, I had to build up to that level, but, um, which is, you know, first it was just like tracking the trucks and now it's like, okay, let's really get into the integration side of things.
Um, I love it. I absolutely love it. Um, clients like it too. I mean, these are huge trucks. They're they're centered displays, you know, just like a billboard. They're not a left read. They're not a right read. They're right in front of you. Um, your exposure times, as long as. Um, we've had really good conversations with Billups.
Um, before we even got into the ROI side of things, it's like, let's do a measurability study. Let's see how far we can see these trucks, you know? Um, and we did a view, like a visibility study where you can actually see the, uh, heat map of like where people look on the trucks. Um, so we've done a lot of cool analytics just on that side.
And then we're integrating that into our app right now. So we can actually show real impression data and then have a third-party back it up. Hey, it's great. We'll have to do a follow up to this where we can say some of that back end because it is, it's an important conversation. And so much of the responsibility sort of gets passed off from the media side, from the sell side to, you know, to the planner, to the agency.
It's. Um, you know, your relationships with the client and I'm just trying to sell you space. And the client is saying to the planner, well, I want a targeted audience and measurable, you know, return on ad spend give that to me. So there is this there's, there's this fragmentation, even in that conversation, and that's sort of a common theme, I think, you know, with some of the things that we've talked about in the show is just that fragmentation and how much cleaner it could be.
So it's great to hear you taking that initiative to. Hey, this is right. Here's how far away you can see a truck and here's how, where people's eyes go. So you can set up the creative properly. And from the logistics side, I love what you shared. There is being a logistics guy. I'm just trying to deliver ads instead of freight.
Instead of me on loading 16 pallets, when I got there, I'm on loan ad space, which is attached to the side and back of this truck and it gets, I mean, we'd get, we've done some really cool campaigns. I got to, I mean, like literally I'm in every state, I got trucks in the Florida keys right now, um, Hawaii, all over the place.
Um, but like we can really target these. I've had trucks outside Warren Buffett's house. Like some campaigns that want to target him for breakfast. Right? It's it's um, yeah, I mean, we've been on Facebook headquarters where they're doing it like a delete Facebook campaign getting actually kicked off the Facebook headquarters at all campuses at one point, dude, I love that.
'cause it's, it's, it's a great concept, right? It's it's the audience of one in that scenario. Um, I'm an employer I'm trying to get, I'm trying to recruit the best shit. Let's just use sports, right? I'm trying to recruit the best athlete from this team, and he's going to be a free agent this summer. How dope would it be if you wrote up with a convoy of trucks and a series of wrapped vehicles, talk about, Hey, LeBron comes to New York and we'll talk and right in front and get the news newscast down there and getting the.
And the drivers love it, man. They're like, because people just, truthfully drivers have been just treated like shit for so long that it just breaks my heart, man. It's like right now, like they don't even talk to people when they're like they load up at night. And then the second class citizens, they really are like for the first time in history like that I've been around is like, oh, now they're actually heroes.
And it's like, these guys have always been cool. And so. We've been partnered up with them from day one. And I mean, they got robots, like literally stacking their trucks, or now they have no one to talk to. And so we just, they became our brand ambassadors. They're, they're our partners and that's how we've been able to grow.
And I mean, we grow every day more and more in our database, but it's just, you know, I lined every truck up with the perfect client. So let's, I love those conversations too. That's I think that's, what's missing a lot is like, Hey, we're, what's your target audience? What's their demographic. What's their income status.
And then like, okay, I can put a route together for that, for sure. I think that that's so important from the, Hey let's have that conversation. Some of that Brian Rappaport talks about, we had them on a couple of weeks ago from Kwan talking about how important it is to get a great brief from the agency or from the advertiser.
That says, right, this is, this is who we're trying to in, in, you know, you just say, well, I'm trying to target Warren buffet. Here's his address? Go park outside of his house, standing who that person is. And then your background in logistics, it's just a different it's, you're just delivering something different.
And instead of palettes, it's this. So let's talk about the drivers for a second, because again, they don't get enough credit. And you said you got drivers all across the country. You can have any campaign. And in 72 hours, how are you able to be consistent with production quality? Getting it installed? I mean, you're in Oregon, right?
You got a driver in south beach. How do you make sure that it's the right material? It gets installed properly. Our drivers all trained, like what's, that's gotta be a lot. It's a lot of logistics right there. Yeah, we have a, we were printing house up in Washington. Um, we print overnight ship. I mean, that's, and then just over the years, you know, I've been burned quite a few times, but we've, you know, failure's always lessons learned.
And so just, we got a lot of good quality rap, um, installers across the country. They're all local. So any campaign, we try to keep that money local as much as we can. Our drivers are local, the installers are local and, um, yeah, we just coordinate it. I mean, we. We do quality checks before we do any printing, you know, and make sure that, you know, there's no dance things on the trucks, anything like that.
Um, and then, yeah, we, we get installed the next day. It's exciting to be able to get a campaign as big as that. I mean, it's got a lot of staying power to I to see a truck go rolling down the street with, uh, you know, you've got some pretty interesting campaigns going on right now with the products that you're delivering.
You know, you're doing a lot of local delivery. You said hyper-local and out of home is really having that conversation around hyper-local. Uh, what's that what's that mean in the world of rolling ads? What does that mean for big trucks and hospital support? We're still delivering. I mean, we were doing conventions before we're doing, we've always, I mean, the world revolves around deliveries.
I mean, everyone wants things just in time. So the demand of trucks has just increased like crazy. Um, and so we're just, we're just flexible people move. We're moving with them, you know, Hey, we got to target all these hyperlocal markets. Let's take all our trucks and which is funny because that's the Mo a lot of those trucks, the ones we weren't using before, because they're in local areas.
And so now it's, yes, it was always high traffic, you know, getting in front of the stadiums, getting in front of. And now it's like, okay, if people are at home, let's do it. Our impressions aren't gonna be as high as it used to be. You know, it being on the road, but no one's on the road. They're all home.
We're still hitting all these, you know, apartment complexes, everything. And you know, when they back up the, got a little beeping noise, so you know, a little audio to, Hey, what's outside and sounder, right. I'm looking at my window right now. I'm bored as shit in my house. So we got to really keep going, man.
I think it's great. And I think, especially right now, It's such a sensitive conversation, right? There's there's companies going under, you know, by the minute practically and folks taking loans to be able to make payroll this week. And, uh, there's the pop. And, um, so with that being said, the attention that you have in being out of home right now, still being targeted, being smart, just starts throwing stuff up.
As a few people are out and about. I, listen, I've been looking at my walls for the last 11 days. If there's something new on the road, or if there's a truck that I'm looking like the value of the attention while there's fewer people on the road, that attention has to be really valuable. Are your clients or your advertisers looking at it that way?
What's what's their thought process right now? Is it the undervalued by, do they see different value in the, in the hyper-local activity? I think, you know, the out of home is going to pick back up. Right? I mean, people are at home. People are home right now. Okay. Out of home zone is attractive. You might get some great, really great buys.
Right? I mean, I've, I've always helped buy billboards with my clients too. I know don't just, don't just do a ruling as use it, use a billboard, get a wallscape have your marketing matrix there, you know, um, you know, a lot of people don't want to talk about, you know, digital media, but digitally, you know, online ads are gonna be great right now.
Right. I mean, as long as you have that marketing matrix and everything can be synergized together, then I'm all for it. I don't, I was going to pick back up. I mean, eventually people would say, Hey, get out of the hyper-local markets. People are back in the roads, get them back on, you know, the high traffic areas for us to do it, but we're just going to keep being nimble and flexible.
And, um, our goals are, our clients are happy and that's, that's, that's a win for me. And then it's a good goal to have. And to talk a little bit about the digital marketing side, you guys have a, have an agency, a creative arm as well. And you guys do some yes. There's some pretty cool stuff, right? I've had to be flexible, man.
It's, you know, finding our little niche or are we mobile billboards? Are we trucks side advertising or what are we doing? Um, in creative drives everything like without good creative. I got so sick of people putting like, oh, let me, let me just check your market and you check your medium. Let me put code truck on the side of it.
And it's like, you know, let's get back to the old school of like mad men days. Let's get back to. The creative and like, make something, make something funny and capture their attention and that's, what's going to sell. And I think coming into Q3, all these agencies are going to have to do something out of the box, because if you're just doing the same old slap my business card on the side of a billboard or truck, it's not going to work.
We gotta, it's gotta get exciting. It's got get engaging because there's going to be a huge push here. Come Q3, Q4 that there's money still gonna be spent. And it's gotta be, it's got to capture it. Right. And so that's, I I'm looking forward to like, and that's what I mean, I got a guy microwave director's from Bulgaria and like a huge win was on, um, the 18th last month he became an American citizen.
17 years in the making. The guy is phenomenal, but he always says he's like, American ads are so boring. Like you guys got to get creative with it. He just you'll be, always get like pushed back on the clients. I don't know if it's we want to do this and it's. It is what it is. But now I think we're going to be in this situation where people are going to have to make it a little bit more of a stance and how they want to market, how they want to brand their company and it's going to be fun.
And so that's why we did that. I just, you know, like seven, I did those measurability studies and stuff. It's like, you put more than eight words on a truck or on a billboard people aren't gonna read it. You can't have two calls to action, your phone number and your URL. You got to pick one, keep it simple.
And that's, what's gonna that's what's gonna get the message across that's. What's going to create a lasting impression and that's what we need to do. So I gotta, yeah. That's why we have a creative side of it. And then other people think like, cause you have a creative agency, are you a competition? No, we're just, we're just here to help you guys, like I'd rather make your large format, print something, you know, spend a little more time on it and make it more effective than, Hey, this pump this out in three days and now my trucks on the road, it's like, no, let's take a little more time.
Dial this in and I'll give you my blunt, honest feedback. If we like it, if we don't. You know, validate against a couple other creative directors and see what they. Because at the end of the day, you're going to get the same amount of money, whether it's terrible creative or great creative, you could just take the money and run, but you're looking for successful campaigns.
It's a representation and reflection of you, your family business. What'd you guys stand up. Inside of the industry. Like, so it's important to find good partners like yourself, like the James Heller, the rapper FYS, like some of the companies that we've mentioned, because it's that in a fragmented industry, you need to have people in your pockets that you can trust to do a great job.
So I think it sounds like the things that you're working on are so far outside of the typical conversation, like, like you mentioned early on about how we view mobile billboards or, or trucks with some sort of advertising, you're taking a real, you know, advertising approach to, so, you know, kudos to you on that.
What's the timeline. You talked about some fun stuff, the app attribution, some of these things, or some of these things in play now, what's, what's your. We're launched. And then we have three days before we launched, we're launching the new version of the app, which is, I'm just so excited because now we're finally, like, I can actually show you real ROI in real time.
Which, I mean, it used to be, like I said, it used to be just GPS tracking and, um, well, we got the, we got the quality there. I mean, I started out doing banners at one point, like, cause that's what people did on truck ads. They're like, oh, this is. I'm trying to sleep at night, is this thing going to fall off or what's going on here?
And, you know, in the wrinkled it's like, no, let's do some quality, this make things right. And so I love what James is doing with rapid fire. We're trying to do the same thing with the truck side of things. And I think we're both doing, we're both pushing these markets together and there's gonna be some good things coming down the road.
And, uh, you know, the mobile billboard business and the rolling car business and the buses and transit, it's all coming together. So how, how many, how many wheels do your trucks have? Um, she's eight. So they got up. And we got six minutes. I'm sorry, I can't with six wheels. What's that mean? There you are.
That's it. I'm excited to see the back end of it. I think that's going to be really helpful for advertisers, um, to, to understand. All right. Here's how we, here's how we assign a value to that. And in fact, we're doing a virtual breakout session, you know, shameless plug on Thursday, every Thursday at three o'clock.
It's always going to be live talking about targeted out of. And measurable ROI. It's a conversation, just like the one that we're having, showing some of the tools behind the scenes of just how easy. To create an out-of-home campaign that acts just like a Facebook campaign and targets the right people in a way that's measurable.
So thank you for taking the proactive steps. There's nobody saying, Hey, you got to do that. And this is the beauty of free market capitalism, right? Is if I want to win more business, I need to provide a superior product investing in that is pretty exciting. So we're at a point where we're all sick of looking at our phones right now.
Like I'm sick of them. So, like I took my youngest nice right now, cause we're actually a little time and my wife went for a walk after work and like talking to more neighbors and we ever had from six feet away, but everyone was outside or trying to move a little bit. And it's the things in the real world are going to capture our attention more.
I got to, you know, a hundred percent of feeling on this. And so billboards are, you know, being rectangle or something unnatural in the real world. So, boom, you're going to, they're going to pop out to us. Out of home is always going to be there. We're going to be, it's going to be great. And I think we're going to still see at the end of this year, despite everything that's happening, we're still going to see a spike in out of home.
Totally agree. Totally. People are just chomping at the bit to get out of home the brands, right? If you can right now by the undervalued inventory, if you can, if you're a buyer right now, it's obviously a buyer's market. Get it. Now, the value is going to be exponential six months from now. And you're going to be set up.
So even if you don't know what you're going to do with the space right now, it could be an opportunity to maybe book some things, know that you've got it. And then she got it for 10 cents on the dollar. Um, it's your friends that can do it. And that's the think that's the issue right now. There's some of these businesses she'll try and figure out and just being able to pivot and be innovative right now is what you have to do.
And so you'll see a lot of, I'm seeing a lot of companies come up from like, man, where were you guys at? Three four years ago. So it's going to be good. It's great. Well, to help more people find you, what is the best URL they should visit? Is it, is it the rolling ad site? Is the agency. Give people a few ways to project rolling ads.com.
Ads is ADA Z. I couldn't afford the Z at the time when I bought the domain 2008, I only asked now, so you can find it at both. Um, and then if you want to email me, give me a call, um, emails, just Jonathan at rolling ads. So we'll link everything below. So, uh, if you want to check it out and I encourage you to do so, the trucks are really cool.
This is not a truck that you've seen. It's the reason why we have Jonathan on this. This is not the ordinary approach to truck billboards, mobile media. It's this is not what you're thinking. You've got to check it out. Hopefully you've figured it out by now that just from talking with Jonathan, he takes a really refreshing approach.
Jonathan. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that with everybody. Thank you so much for having me on the show and if there's anything we can ever do, let me know. And we'll, I look forward to reconnect with you later on. I'll just, I'll send you all the metrics and once we get it right. We're going to do this again.
We're just going to do, we're going to do a bit behind the scenes demo type day. So it lives out there forever and more people can look you up more people find out what you do and just makes everybody better. Perfect, man. Thank you so much for coming on the show. You have a wonderful day and healthy.