Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Initialized Capital and an investor in Adquick, a new service that’s looking to bring billboard advertising into the internet age, bought his last billboard ad just this year.
For several years, the Reddit founder had turned to outdoor advertising as a tool to troll politicians and advocate for various positions (and celebrate his famous wife). The last political billboard, in 2012, was to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act.
It was also the impetus for his investment in Adquick. “I’d seen pitches from a number of competitors that were all just static websites on top of the single business,” says Ohanian.
What he was looking for, and what he eventually found in Adquick was a company that had managed to map all of the billboard advertising options available in the U.S. and was offering would-be advertisers a way to digitally distribute their ads and book inventory.
“For us the reason why it was such an exciting initial investment was because we saw the opportunity and the talent of the team,” Ohanian says.
Matthew O’Connor, Adquick’s chief executive previously worked at Instacart and it was there that he and his team first learned about dragging traditional businesses into the online world.
“This team had come out of Instacart… they came well recommended by the founders over there,”Ohanian said. “Working with them now I’ve just gotten more and more impressed.”
So impressed, that Ohanian doubled down on his firm’s initial investment into the company with a new $2.1 million round.
There’s an undoubtable opportunity in outdoor advertising. O’Connor estimates that it’s a $33 billion global market with $8 billion spent on outdoor ads in the U.S. alone.
“They are aggregating from hundreds of vendors across the U.S. and they’re making it easy for companies to sell those ads and manage that inventory and bringing a ton of transparency to a system that is mostly phone calls and emails,” Ohanian said.
Bringing those efficiencies to an old industry can only help what’s been the only non-digital ad channel to actually grow in the U.S. “It’s the oldest channel in the world that’s about to undergo a resurgence,” O’Connor says.
“It’s the last frontier of advertising,” says O’Connor. “This is a real world channel that can have a lot of tailwinds if we can bring these great modern technologies to it which is what we’re doing.”