DriveAds Inks Deal With Fleet Management Tech Leader Omnitracs

The DriveAds technology turns trailers into rolling billboards and monitors the demographics of eyeballs that see the advertising.

DriveAds turns semi-truck trailers into rolling billboards

Get ready to see more advertisements on trucks as Omnitracs announced a deal Wednesday with Dallas startup DriveAds that could revolutionize the trucking industry.

DriveAds

DriveAds was founded by Vikram Kurella (left) and Ramon Mendez. [Photo courtesy of DriveAds]

Dallas-based Omnitracs will offer DriveAds technology to its fleet owners, a monumental step up for the startup that offers thousands of new potential customers.

“As a young startup this is huge because it takes so much groundwork and time out of the equation that our team at DriveAds otherwise would have had to do tying up hundreds and hundreds of man hours,” said DriveAds co-founder Ramon Mendez.

For trucking companies, this turns their trailers into rolling billboards equipped with technology that monitors the traffic and demographics of the eyeballs that see the advertisements.

“Access to this new service can help drive fleet profitability through additional revenue streams,” Eric Braswell, senior director of global channels for Omnitracs, told the Dallas Business Journal.

DriveAds is based at Industrious in One Arts Plaza in downtown Dallas. Originally, the startup focused on wrapping individual’s personal vehicles so anyone could put ads on their vehicle and earn money driving around. The process was clunky and never took off the way it anticipated.

So Ramon Mendez and fellow co-founder Vikram Kurella pivoted to the business-to-business segment, focusing on trucks. The trailers are high off the ground and represent a flat canvas that’s more suitable for advertisements than a car, truck, or SUV.

Currently, DriveAds works with entire fleets of trucks and smaller owner operators.

DRIVEADS HELPS MEASURE AUDIENCE DEMOGRAPHICS

Armed with AdBlock, Netflix, and premium Spotify, Mendez has shielded himself from television ads, radio spots, and digital pop ups.

Consumers like him are nearly impossible for advertisers and brands to reach.

That’s why more advertisers are looking for so-called out-of-home advertising such as billboards and digital signs to grab people’s attention in a way that can’t be blocked by technology.

“Our medium is much more simple, but it’s a more elegant way to deliver it.”

Ramon Mendez

Mendez founded DriveAds to take these same static billboards and put them on the road by wrapping semi-truck trailers with advertising. Trucking is a thin margin industry where it’s tough to break even, he said. Plastering advertisements on the truck could be meaningful for the truck owner and the advertisers.

“It’s one of the most problematic times in the history of advertising to literally reach an audience,” Mendez told Dallas Innovates. “Our medium is much more simple, but it’s a more elegant way to deliver it. You fundamentally don’t think that you own outside. It’s considered to be the last reach medium.”

The advertisements can’t be turned off, they can’t be blocked and they are more memorable than digital advertisements that only show up for a short time. 

“Everyone goes outside and advertisers should absolutely have exposure to outdoor media as part of their overall ad spend,” Mendez said.

DriveAds also can examine audience data by looking at the truck’s geolocation, the traffic levels, and demographics.

Most modern trucks already have electronic log systems and GPS tracking.

“We come in with our own device to track them,” Mendez said. “We’re trying to get more granular so we’re at about a 2-second ping. It’s going to know immediately who is around the truck.”

This solves a common problem for billboards as they don’t have a way to measure audience demographics.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t charge what you would want to charge,” he said.

MENDEZ SAYS EXPECT PRICE OF OUTDOOR ADVERTISING TO INCREASE

As the much faster 5G networks get launched in Dallas-Fort Worth, Internet of Things will only go up so the data these billboards could collect will increase. Mendez predicts the price for outdoor advertising will skyrocket as more audience data becomes available.  

“It’s what the advertisers ultimately want,” Mendez said. “It’s for the betterment of the entire industry.”

“The sky’s the limit in terms of what you can get accomplished.”

Ramon Mendez

In the future, Mendez would like to use Bluetooth beacons to send push notifications to vehicles near the truck. He envisions a restaurant like McDonald’s delivery trucks using this to send specials on the highway. The redemption of those coupons would validate that the ads are working.

“The sky’s the limit in terms of what you can get accomplished,” Mendez said.

For now, DriveAds outsources the printing and installation of the wrap, but Mendez said eventually that will come in-house so it can lower prices and do it at scale.

“We have pure control over end-to-end and that is going to be so much better,” he said.

Updated 4:33 p.m. June 7 with new quotes from Ramon Mendez; updated 10:30 a.m. June 8 with new DriveAds office location. Updated subhead June 12.

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