Nickelytics, the Tampa-based advertising firm that evolved from The Nickel Ride, a ride-share company, has appointed out-of-home (OOH) advertising industry veteran Rick Robinson to its board of advisors. He will provide guidance and insights to founder and CEO Judah Longgrear and Seattle-based CTO Shama Keskar, who joined the company earlier this year.
Robinson boasts more than 30 years of experience in OOH advertising, having served in sales, creative and executive strategy roles. He will continue to serve as partner and chief strategy officer at Billups, a Los Angeles-based OOH technology and managed services company.
In an interview with the Catalyst, Robinson said he was approached by Longgrear and was quickly impressed by the Nickelytics platform, which is targeted at ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, as well as the e-scooters that are becoming popular in many cities. Uber and Lyft drivers — or anyone who can prove they drive a certain number of miles per day in the desired area — can apply to have their vehicles wrapped, at no cost to them, with an advertiser’s branding. The company then gives the driver a GPS device that creates a geospatial “cone” around the vehicle. That cone picks up the unique ID signals of nearby cell phones and saves that data, which is then analyzed, compiled and reported to the advertiser via an analytics dashboard.
“There’s a lot of new energy and entrepreneurship coming out of the OOH media space,” Robinson said. “Judah and Shama represent that new energy and have a willingness to apply some risk. Applying the gig economy to OOH media is an entirely new channel that’s getting developed and finding its way.”
Robinson said Nickelytics’ platform is at the forefront of a new data-centric trend in advertising that’s focused on “understanding how audiences move around and how that impacts media that moves around … the whole notion of where people are at, what they do … it’s a piece of the business that I find very intriguing.”
Robinson has joined the Nickelytics team at a time of great momentum for the nascent company. According to a news release, the firm recently closed an equity crowdfunding round of nearly $400,000 on Republic and is expected to close a $1.5 million seed round this summer.
“I am thrilled to welcome Rick to our board as the number of creative advertisers seeking to leverage OOH advertising increases,” Longgrear said in a prepared statement. “To have such an established industry expert on our advisory team gives us extra insights into the advertising landscape post-pandemic.”
Last month, it welcomed to its board of advisors Liad Itzhak, who served as head of data at Google and Waze. Also, as Longgrear noted in his statement, Nickelytics anticipates a surge in OOH advertising — particularly from dormant industries such as travel and tourism, brick-and-mortar retail, entertainment and fashion — as the pandemic subsides.
“Out-of-home advertising owns the word ‘out,’” Robinson said. “That sort of says it all. I think what you’ll see, from a business climate point of view, is a lot of exuberance and energy. Nickelytics can have an opportunity to latch on to what we’re seeing across the country in terms of surging demand and supply. Categories coming back to the OOH space are not only wanting to spend again, but also look at what their options are. People are open to seeing messaging in different ways, so I think that creates opportunity for everyone and is also an opportunity for Nickelytics.”
Robinson said he could even envision Billups — whose clientele includes household brands like Nike, AMC, Starbucks, U.S. Bank and RE/MAX — becoming a Nickleytics customer. “At this point, we’re not competitors,” he added. “Certainly, it’s a format that our teams might consider buying.”
Describing how he envisions his role at Nickelytics, Robinson said his main goal is to provide “visibility” to the firm’s opportunities in the OOH media ecosystem. “They have an offering that’s part of the new economy,” he said. “What I can do is give them the 30,000-foot-view of OOH and help them understand how all the pieces work together. From there, they’ll be able to find their way a little bit better.”