CEO Spotlight: @DPAAorg Chairman François de Gaspé Beaubien

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

This month, we welcome back François de Gaspé Beaubien, Chairman and Chief Coaching Officer of ZOOM Media, Executive Chairman of Ayuda Media Systems, Executive Chairman of Hivestack (majority owner of all three) and Chairman of the Digital Placed based Advertising Association – we first interviewed François back in July 2008, Ed.

  1. Since the last time we interviewed you in 2008, you have more than doubled down on Digital Out-of-Home. Can you give us a quick update of what your three companies are offering?

    Today, Zoom is the largest media company in the US, UK and Canada that is focused 100% on fitness venues. We now engage 45 million members, as measured by Nielsen, in 6,000 gym partner establishments. Back in 2008, 98% of our revenues were from static billboards and we were a recent entry into fitness; today 95% of our revenues are digital, and we are proud to be now offering interactive touch screens on cardio machines which permit members to view what they want when they want with one-to-one interaction. If someone is watching an on demand program but can’t see it all during their session, system will automatically save and they can pick up where the program left off the next time they are at the gym. We’ve signed Precor and Matrix globally, two of the top three cardio machine manufacturers – with more to come.

    Of course, the fitness clubs also have their personalized screens with speakers, and TVs hanging from the ceiling. But our new and most exciting offerings are the interactive screens on the cardio machines. We hope to expand these not only within fitness clubs but also into hotels and university campuses where the cardio machines are already installed. However, there is a need for increased broadband from local servers for “live streaming”, so until then we shall be installing local servers to house the programming content (just as they do on airlines).

    At Ayuda, the cloud-based software that runs OOH companies, we have doubled in size every year and we are now offering our end-to-end solution in over 22 countries on all continents except Antarctica (to make you smile). Our clients range from the largest to the most focused, from OUTFRONT in North America and Bell in Canada, to Ströer in Germany and Adshel in Australia. Our global team is now comprised of just under 100 professionals across the world, and, yes, we are hiring.

    At Hivestack, our recent launch, we are combining the power of location-based data, mobile media and DOOH media to enable digital marketers to target custom audiences on their daily journey, based on physical-world behaviours. And we can measure the business impact of such programs by attributing in-store or online visitation to DOOH media exposure. Moreover, Hivestack’s tech stack powers the world’s largest Public Video Private Marketplace in Germany (and we are exporting that model globally) – enabling a flow of digital budgets from trading desks to DOOH.

  2. Between your Chairing of the DPAA industry body and your three companies operating in the same space, what do you see as the greatest opportunity as well as the greatest challenge facing the industry?

    Opportunity? In a word: Digital. Challenge? Integration. Let me explain.

    Opportunity: Digital online has delivered the greatest boon to media owners and marketers. (It’s the largest media segment with more than $84 billion in the US alone). But there are challenges: bots, lack of ‘human views’, brand safety, and more. The giants are addressing those issues, but marketers are now looking to supplement and better target consumers during their daily journey: a perfect opportunity for DOOH.

    Challenge: We need everyone to integrate with each other. When Digital/Mobile first came on stage it was the same story: all operators and suppliers tried to build their own walled gardens – and that did not work. IAB helped set standards and, more importantly, marketers wanted a seamless ecosystem. Look at today’s Digital Lumascape, everyone works with everyone else, including direct competitors. This is what needs to happen in DOOH; frankly it’s going to happen, either from within, or imposed from without.

    Integration is what the operators want; it’s what the digital agencies want; it’s what the advertisers want. Building islands did not work for Mobile/Digital and it will certainly not work for DOOH. Those that integrate with each other will have first mover advantage and will win big. Mobile is an enabler for DOOH.

  3. Can you give us some examples of where you think DOOH has been successful in accessing Digital budgets and what have been the hurdles to overcome?

    Whether it’s the large Out-of-Home operators or my fellow CEOs at Digital Place-Based networks, we are working at getting Digital budgets to connect to DOOH. Our DOOH media is a ‘one to many’ vs the current ‘one to one’ of Digital online. The latter are used to measurement on that ‘one to one’, so converting them to our larger audience multiplier is an educational challenge. Moreover, to put things in perspective, if you look at all the money flowing into DOOH from Digital, it accounts for less than 1% of the total. And all of OOH ($8.3 billion) is less than 10% of the Digital online pie of +$84 billion. To say there is room to grow is a vast understatement.

    The good news? Much progress is being made. Hats off to Vistar, Hivestack, Broadsign Reach and the Rubicon’s of this world for enabling DSPs to connect to our industry DOOH SSPs. For example, at Zoom, close to 15% of our total revenues are now coming from Digital budgets, and the growth vs last year is +100%. The other major Digital Place-Based operators such as Captivate are experiencing similar results. DOOH is on the rise and, candidly, we’re merely at stage one of this rocket booster.

  4. Which operator do you think is the most innovative in DOOH?

    The most successful and most innovative OOH operator in the world is Ströer. There has been a lot of discussion on how Programmatic can and will come to DOOH. As we all know, the word is made up of ‘programming’ and ‘automatic’, and it is how the vast majority of digital buys are made. In contrast, the digital dollars that flow to DOOH in North America are not programmatic buys; they involve a sales force that connects the advertiser to the inventory via a manual transfer from DSP to SSP.

    That’s not so in Germany. Ströer’s use of location data, automation and technology is exemplary to other DOOH media operators globally. Ströer is truly breaking new ground for all us with its marketplace fuelled by a deep integration between Ayuda, Hivestack, Ströer Digital, and Ströer data partners.

    As Hivestack’s CEO Andreas Soupliotis explains it, “Public video ad inventory is monetized programmatically via digital demand from some of the largest trading desks using online DSPs in Germany. Besides the obvious automation benefits of programmatic buying, a unique value proposition of this solution is the ability to target behavioural and location-based audiences. This is made possible due to Ströer’s usage of GDPR-compliant, consumer movement analysis derived from anonymous, aggregated location data. This location data and audience science coupled with Hivestack’s Geotemporal Ad Server permits digital marketers to activate public video programmatically against custom audiences.

    Christian Schmalz’s digital-first leadership and culture is driving much of this innovation. The Ströer Digital Team has a great partnership with Hivestack. There’s a lot of adtech and martech alignment between the two groups and we expect to see much more innovation in the coming year.”

  5. What are you most proud of in each of your companies and at the DPAA?

    Zoom: An amazing team that has completely re-invented the company from a static ‘in bathroom’ network to a true Digital company focused on the Active Lifestyle consumer! We are almost there as a ‘digital’ organization with the launch of our ‘one to one’ interactive screens on cardio machines. It’s a joy to see the teams working with digital agencies and clients while penning partnerships with content providers as they continue to activate more cardio screens. Also, a very big hat’s off moment is owed to Tom Link and his team for having identified Generation Active and sharing our ongoing research to marketers about those highly influential consumers.

    Ayuda: Tremendous pride with the progress of the last few years! And to have Luc Filiatrault take the helm as the new CEO, with his vast software experience, to enable the teams to accelerate bringing our solutions to over 100 OOH operators and continuing to scale rapidly from there! Ayuda is now the software completely running multiple world-class networks comprised of hundreds of thousands of both static and digital displays.

    Hivestack: Perennial genius Andreas Soupliotis amassing his wizard team to enable clients such as Nordstrom Rack not only to get their message to their desired female target (via Lamar digital roadside billboards – based on who was driving by that board at that time) but to actually track the consumers coming into Nordstrom Rack stores via mobile! True attribution! It’s a game changer for our industry.

    DPAA: Pride in having been on the Board when we picked our CEO, Barry Frey, to lead our industry! Barry has, with his team, elevated our discussions across all media platforms and staked our ground with our ‘Video Everywhere’ positioning. The DPAA’s annual summit is now a must attend event with over 900 attendees (mostly clients and agencies); and his collaboration with Adrian Cotterill’s Digital Week in NY has proven to be a huge success for our industry.

  6. Can you give us your five-year forecast?

    Here goes! For the industry:
    25% of DOOH revenues will come from Digital budgets (by end of year five – but could be double the way things are going);
    True programmatic revenues for DOOH will be established and scaling fast;
    Annual growth in the high double digits every year;
    DOOH will become a line item on marketing budgets;
    Attribution, provided through such platforms as Hivestack’s or GroundTruth’s, will demonstrate ROI, and budgets will follow;
    Integration between the DOOH Lumascape will have been achieved (replicating what occurred in Digital/Mobile);
    Mobile will have proven itself to have been the ‘great enabler’ for DOOH and OOH;
    One of the giants, ex: Google/Facebook, will be formally operating in the DOOH vertical – not just investing.

    For Zoom:

    . Over half our revenues will come from digital;
    . We’ll be part of a larger enterprise.

  7. Your family and yourself have always been quite involved in ‘giving back’. What latest initiative are you focusing on?

    All of us in the DOOH realm are giving back, with our time, our networks and our funds. My family and I support numerous non-profits; that said, our children have identified a pressing need that affects us all: clean water. We take it for granted but it is under serious assault. We are thus committed to finding solutions to clean up our waters, and our latest initiative is focusing on the Great Lakes which span the US and Canada border. We are bringing technology to bear with programmers solving real pressing issues that the municipalities face.

  8. What is the next challenge for you personally?

    I’ve been a CEO for over 30 years and the CEO of Zoom for the past 16. I’ve set myself the goal that by 2020 I should be out of running the day-to-day of any company, but will stay in the business as Executive Chairman. This is because, for one, I am surrounded by outstanding talent. For another, I have two little girls who will become teenagers and I so enjoy being there with and for them. They are my priority. Three companies and two daughters make for a rather hectic agenda. Also, being Executive Chairman is simply the best job in the world! You get to work with clients, coach your CEOs and plan and establish strategy. It is so fulfilling!

François is also the former Chairman of the Canadian Magazine Association, former Board Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulation, former Board Member of the Out-of-Home Advertising Association of America, former Board member of Geopath, and was recipient of FEPE’s inaugural Leadership Award in 2015. He is a graduate of Haverford College BA with Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, as well as a graduate of Harvard Business School with Distinction, and now serves on the Canadian Advisory Board of the School. He believes that we are all coaches… and we should all delight in giving back.


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