Jason Stanard, CEO of Hyloq. Image credit: BidMind
- Imagine dropping a pin in Google Maps and saying you’d like to target people within a five-mile radius. That’s the general idea of what Geofencing is.
- People appreciate an honest answer to a technical question rather than 3-dollar marketing words.
- Advertisers tend to forget that their number one job is generating leads and selling their clients’ products.
We had the opportunity to talk with Jason Stanard, CEO of Hyloq and technology entrepreneur with 20 years experience.
Hi Jason. It seems that no matter how small or how big the business is, you are always there to help it grow. Can you share your story and how you came to have this approach in business and marketing?
I started my career in technology and sales by a happy accident. Soon after college, I moved to Los Angeles. It was 1999-2000, while the internet was really just developing, I happened to get a job as a call center supervisor for a relatively new company called Earthlink. As my career developed, I had the opportunity to work with several different tech start-ups. I was one of a few salesmen that began selling a relatively new software called content management systems (CMS) and other technology solutions.
In the early 2000s, I had to learn every aspect of the software I was working with to be able to sell it to C-Level execs. This made me a technically astute non-technical person. I think that my knowledge of technology, combined with my ability to do marketing, made me a natural fit to work with and pitch to the CTOs and CMOs.
After working for several tech companies in various sales and marketing roles, I moved to Tampa Bay and joined a web design and development company as VP of Sales and Marketing. There was talk about me buying the company or being promoted to CEO, but the management didn’t want to go with either plan. So, I started and self-funded my first company, GreatCircle Studios. It grew to over 850 active clients before I sold it to a marketing firm based in Wales. After the acquisition, I took some time off, and within 3 months got very bored and decided to start a new advertising firm, Consult FGC.
Around 2018, the CMO of a relatively large credit union called and asked me to look into the developing technology called Geofencing and find a solution that would work for them. I spent around 2-3 months doing demos, researching software, and running some pilots. I just couldn’t find anything that would do what the credit union wanted. Even existing geofencing solutions that required around a $30k per-month commitment didn’t do what was needed. So, I decided to just build the right solution myself. That’s how I invested my own capital and started Hyloq (pronounced high-lock).
To those who are new to Digital Advertising, could you explain what Geofencing is, in your own words?
Geofencing as a word is the rough combination of the words “Geography” and “fence.” In the advertising community, it’s a process of creating virtual areas around any place, or multiple places, such as a business, inside which you can capture devices and deliver ads to potential clients. Imagine dropping a pin in Google Maps and saying that you want to target people within a five-mile radius or drawing a polygon around various physical locations, e.g. streets. That’s the general idea of what Geofencing is.
What does Hyloq do for its clients?
The original intention for Hyloq was to be a standalone piece of software that any marketer could log in and use. In that sense, we would be a software development company that only needed to release and maintain its app. With time, it became clear that we also needed to help our clients actually run their campaigns. So we pivoted and became more of a managed advertising partner as opposed to a standalone software manufacturer.
We work with some brilliant people with business acumen that have been successful in online advertising. However, almost every client comes to us without the technical and advertising prowess required to launch a successful geofenced Digital Advertising campaign. We discuss questions like where they should put their ads, how much they should spend, what kinds of ads they should run, when they should run them, what advertising channel(s) they should use, and so on. There are so many variables that come-into-play, when setting up, running, and tweaking geofenced campaigns.
As people who built the software from scratch, we can tell what is realistic and what should work for a client. That’s why we ended up pivoting our business model to include consulting as well as the software development aspect. Today, we manage geofenced campaigns for credit unions with 96 locations, energy companies that deliver ads in nine different states across three different time zones, and other various clients.
Can you share a story of your client that managed to kickstart their business by applying Geofencing?
I actually have two stories I’d love to share. One story is about a large real estate company from Florida, while another one is about a Manhattan financial adviser.
The first client invests in real estate properties that they know are walk heavy or drive heavy. The firm makes a profit by bringing specific companies like chains of supermarkets, fast food restaurants, department stores, etc. to locations that many people visit daily. This client had previously tracked foot traffic by hiring a contractor company that would physically send a person with a clicker to count the number of visitors of a specific location throughout the day.
Instead of hiring the contractor, we proposed to run a pilot program with Hyloq for three months. We evaluated how many people visited certain areas and at what times, among many other variables. It brought several results to our client. Firstly, it cost them roughly one-tenth of what it would have, to conduct their operation with the aforementioned contractor. Secondly, it took just one day to set everything up to run. Finally, the client didn’t need to worry that the data was flawed because of human error.
In terms of the overall results of the pilot, our client learned that a location where they were going to sell cheaply was actually extremely busy during lunchtime and happy hour. It turned out that many people from nearby businesses would go around that specific corner between 11:30 AM and 2:00 PM. In another instance, the client changed the location of a future supermarket by using our data. At the end of the pilot, the company told us that we saved them around $150k in potential mistakes. We did it simply by saying how many devices entered, stayed, and/or left specific geofenced locations and at what times. The funny thing about this story is that we didn’t need to show a single ad.
In the second example, we worked with a financial adviser who lived in one of the most expensive buildings in Manhattan. He wanted to target the 20k – 30k people living in his neighborhood. We set off by putting broad geofences around the specific area. After about a month, we found out that most people the client wanted to talk to were congregating every weekend in a specific golf course five miles away from the original location. We adjusted the advertising and geofences and focused on the golf course. We also targeted nearby businesses where you can purchase or repair golf equipment.
For the campaign, we ran a simple ad using the client’s face and a line saying something like, “Hey, you know me, I live in your building, let me manage your money.”
About two months into the campaign, the client called me and asked to turn off those ads. I asked him what happened and learned that now the whole neighborhood recognized his face, and everyone wanted to talk to him. The client was very grateful and even sent me an expensive bottle of bourbon.
Hyloq has recently partnered with BidMind and launched its own custom demand-side platform (DSP). What led you to this decision? How do you think it will change the client experience with Hyloq?
We have tried working with multiple DSPs, and there are a couple of reasons we chose BidMind’s white label solution.
When evaluating other DSP’s I often ask very specific technical questions and appreciate it when I get an honest answer and not 3-dollar marketing words back. Working with BidMind, we would always receive answers back to my tech questions in a reasonable time. I also appreciated that this team was upfront and honest with us from the start. We never get a strange “gotcha” bill at the end of the month after signing on.
The majority of AdTech companies we talked to wanted a year-long commitment of guaranteed monthly ad spend. With the campaign examples I described earlier, one client worked with us for three months, and the other worked for only two months. We also had a client that was running for mayor in a town. He did a “Geofence blitzkrieg” for six weeks, got elected, and that was the end of it. So as you can see, that business model wouldn’t work for us.
Hyloq has clients with seasonal businesses. For instance, one of them is an energy company from a state where, by law, citizens can only switch to another gas and electricity provider during a four-month period. This means we have limited time when we can promote the services of this company.
While we have clients working with us on a regular basis, their ad-spend varies wildly from month to month. That’s why when an AdTech company says we need to commit to six-figure sums even to start using a platform, I don’t think it’s something worth signing up for.
With BidMind, we don’t have to worry about all of that, because the pricing structure is based on client ad spend. With most other AdTech companies, if you want to do campaigns that involve Geofencing, you have to commit tens of thousands a month in ad-spend whether you have one or fifty active clients.
Can you highlight specific features powered by the BidMind DSP in which you see a special value for your clients?
A big part of digital advertising is how well you are able to target your intended audience. Our clients vary widely. There are credit unions, investment brokers, vehicle part manufacturers, national energy brands, and many other types of businesses.
So while ads on one SSP work for one client, they might not work as well for another. Utilizing BidMind as our DSP gave us access to multiple SSP’s and access to specialized networks, which was a big highlight for us.
The ability to choose a different Ad Exchange and targeting methods is very helpful. We can narrow down our audience, see who is responding to our ads, and what changes we need to make. Access to all that in one platform is really practical.
Thank you very much for this interview. As we are wrapping up, could you give general advice to someone who is planning to launch their first marketing campaign?
Sure, there are two key things I would say. First and foremost, our job as advertisers consists of two very basic but primary things.
1. Generate leads for our clients.
2. Sell products for our clients. Period.
I can’t tell you how many clients we’ve acquired from another firm that forgot about #1 and #2 above. Generating leads, selling their products, and helping your clients make money. That is your number one job. Everything else is secondary.
Secondly, make sure you hire and retain the best people. For example, Hyloq CMO Raneshia Lawrence has been working with me since the time of my first company GreatCircle Studios, over 10 years ago, and she is invaluable to our growth.
AdTech Insights is an industry insights initiative launched by BidMind. It is aimed to assist marketers in digital advertising and other facets of AdTech.
For more AdTech Insights, follow Jason Stanard via LinkedIn.