Adcentricity Acquired By Bee Media; Name Sticks, Direction Changes
April 24, 2012 by Dave Haynes
Adcentricity has been acquired by a Toronto-based mobile/hyper-local company called Bee Media, with a new blended company to operate under the better known and arguably more effective Adcentricity handle.
The new Adcentricity formalizes a switch it has been very quietly making away from just the Digital OOH aggregation model (which was working, just not enough) to a much broader vision that has a suite of branded services that combine to make it easier for advertisers to to compile, create, localize, render and distribute a campaign easily and cost effectively across multiple media platforms.
Adcentricity’s new business is no longer just Digital OOH, with revenues expected to come from other digital platforms such as mobile, online and store-run digital retail networks.
The new Adcentricity will be run by CEO Doug Woolridge, previously Bee Media’s CEO, while Adcentricity’s longtime CEO and co-founder Rob Gorrie will remain with the company as Senior Strategic Advisor, working a couple of days a week for the company and chasing other interests the rest of the time.
The transaction is backed by the investment groups Caldwell ICM and Telesystem, and terms were not disclosed. Montreal-based Telesystem, under an older name, is the company that originally funded Adcentricity.
Contrary to lots of chatter I have heard about Adcentricity “imploding” or “folding up its tents”, the company is moving forward and hanging on to key people. Co-founder Jeff Atley is VP Business Development and Laurie Freudenberg is Chief Operating Officer, while Brad Alles, who joined the firm more recently, is SVP Business Development.
Bee Media has been around for a while, operating in a somewhat crowded field of companies offer a blend of mobile-driven proximity marketing and hyperlocal deals. That skill set and technology will roll into a new broader offer that includes capabilities Adcentricity first started developing a couple of years ago, and quietly started using around last summer.
“The combination of local, shopper marketing, mobile, in-store radio and video networks has created a fractured landscape of thousands of smart, effective companies and media channels with limited ways to get the attention of, and adoption by, brands,” explains Gorrie in the news release. “Together with Bee Media, we can now offer an even more powerful platform with the ability to target and distribute addressable content across every digital channel with a location attached to it — including mobile shopping applications, which Bee Media has been quietly building over the past year.”
The release continues:
Location-based marketing, including the data and activity that surrounds it, is quickly becoming identified as key to consumer influence, CRM and shopper marketing initiatives. The new Adcentricity effortlessly allows brands to execute and respond to localized events and activities, and scale from one location to tens of thousands via a series of new and existing products. With several key products, platforms and tools with enhanced functionality, Adcentricity has created a newly formed location-based hub of product, data and capabilities.
The two new products announced today include:
ADMobile. A platform for location-based mobile shopping, including mobile interfaces, shopping tools, location services, mobile payment, content management, analytics and reporting
ADFormat. An automated content generation tool that allows advertisers to execute completely customizable campaigns of video, copy, images and graphics to fit any digital screen, DOOH, OOH or mobile that can be uniquely messaged to any specific market or location
In addition, the company will continue to offer ADCentral, a product core to the Adcentricity service, as well as supporting products: ADVenue, ADTarget and ADFormat (included above) designed to place messaging in front of the highest potential consumers.
ADCentral. Core to the Adcentricity service, ADCentral acts as a hub for venue-specific planning, targeting and content creation with 16 categories and 55 subcategories reaching over 1 billion impressions across DOOH, in-store, in-store radio, NFC, Wi-Fi , mobile apps and more
o ADVenue. A tool that offers a single point of contact for detailed location supply inventory and hyper-local venue selection across multiple location-based media channels
o ADTarget. Allows for targeting consumers most likely to purchase your product by layering venues with demographics and data from Nielsen, Environics, Polk, Simmons, PMB, BBM and more
“When you couple Bee Media’s expertise on the consumer mobile applications side with that of Adcentricity on the location-based delivery side, it creates a tool that makes hyperlocal mobile campaigns easy and executable for advertisers, brands and retailers,” says Woolridge. “Our location-based digital technology hub demystifies the complexities in this new media landscape enabling connections with on the go consumers in active retail environments. Our mission is to connect the digital world with the physical world with a few clicks and have the ability to measure and report on results in a timely fashion.”
The release paints in broad strokes but the really interesting thing here is the ADFormat piece, which is a mechanism to automate ad building down to the hyper-local store level based on masses of data, and get those ads in place automatically – not only across Digital OOH and digital retail networks that schedule a piece of XML-based code, but also smartphones and social online services like Facebook and Foursquare.
THAT’S where this thing gets scale and what made that IP attractive to Bee and its backers. While Adcentricity was known as a sales shop, it was steadily developing applications to feed that – starting way back with a database I think I remember Gorrie calling the meat grinder.
The new Adcentricity is aggressively hiring people and the field of play extends well beyond the U.S. and Canada.
It’s definitely not the vision Gorrie had for Adcentricity when he walked me through it something like six years ago now, on a PowerPoint deck that never ended, but very few technology businesses end up on straight roads. Where some companies involved in variations on the aggregation model have truly feeble revenue numbers, I know Adcentricity was booking into seven figures. But they were just keeping a percentage of that as sales commissions, and the sector needed to be a lot bigger to generate big returns.
Digital OOH can and does work for a number of companies, but it’s a challenge every day.
I originally wrote, based on another conversation, that Adcentricity was no longer doing sales aggregation.
Laurie Freudenberg, the new company’s COO, says media sales to agencies and brands “remains a core part of our business model and we have already ramped up our sales team in both the US and in Canada to support our existing and new network partnerships – with further growth to come. The difference is we now offer a much broader and richer platform and product suite that differentiates us from a traditional aggregator model, and opens up our business to new lines of revenue.”
The other solely-focused option for smaller regional Digital OOH networks to get national sales representation (and action) is NEC’s VUKUNET. You can also plug into DOmedia’s system, and be in a database at least one of the big agency holding groups uses.
The other road to go down is demand side platforms like rVue, which does all the buy-sell stuff online.