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99 Luftballons

What Is Net Promoter Score (NPS)?

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OOH …Here’s One Thing

by Jim Johnsen,
Managing Director, Johnsen, Fretty & Company

99 Luftballons

Anyone ever heard of NPS?  Neither had I until Oblonsky (name changed to a character in one of my favorite novels to protect the person’s identity) introduced it to me.  He is a hedge fund guy, over the pond for some time from Eastern Europe. He introduced me to a Company by the name of One2Ten.  Cool name and cool idea.   One2Ten – feedback solutions

Granted it is one standard deviation away from alternative out of home or place-based media (“PBM”…not “PBJ”), but given how much traction they had developed in Europe, I thought the U.S. market would bear-hug the shit out of this solution.  I pitched it to several banks myself just to see if it would fly. Crickets. I pitched it to a couple exec buddies at large supermarket chains. No return phone call or email. 

Shit, did I miss the ball on this one?  You are probably scratching your head saying what is this One2Ten?  In a nutshell, as Austin Powers says, it’s a well designed kiosk with a touch screen that invites customers to rate 3 simple questions regarding satisfaction and customer experience on a scale of 1 to 10.  NPS, by the way, stands for “Net Promoter Score” a highly developed scientific method of figuring out whether your customers love or hate you.  What Is Net Promoter Score (NPS)?  The very short of it is if your customers are highly willing to recommend you to other customers, then you are doing pretty well.  One would think every business in the U.S. would love to get smarter about how much their customers love or hate them!  In my short experiment…not so much. 

Thanks for the trivial pursuit Johnsen, but what gives?  Well if there is one lesson I learned, it’s what works in Europe might not work in the U.S. and visa versa. 

In my business…you just never know. (Although sometimes you do)

Which is a good segue.   Out of the blue Oblonsky called me last week.  The conversation went something like this:

Oblonsky:  Hey Johnsen, I know we haven’t spoken in 5 years and I know that One2Ten thing was a banana peel, but I’ve got this incredibly slick new European SaaS place-based media company that tells me they will be a billion dollar valued company within a couple years.   I could use your help taking a look at it.   I’d really like to put some money in it.

Johnsen:  Huh.  PBM is not for the faint of heart.  Tell me more. 

Oblonsky:  Well they have this really slick SaaS model and can address any screen in the world with their software.  And with this SaaS they can make it easier for agencies to buy. 

Johnsen:  Interesting.  I do know there are a couple others in this space including Broadsign, Vistar, Ubimo, Adomni, DO Media, Blip, Adquick, Hivestack, Place Exchange, Fliphound, to name a couple as well as the agencies and Outfront, Lamar, Clear Channel and JCDecaux all cooking up their own SaaS media DSP’s, SSP’s and ASP’s (as in all side platform 🙂 just to name a few…but hey…the field is wide open. 

Oblonsky:  Ya, I hear ya, but these guys have rolled out over 1,500 digital screens of their own in various large cities in Europe. 

Johnsen:  Well now, you should have said that.  I thought these guys were ad-tech ..but it sounds like they are an out-of-home company.  I thought location acquisition was even harder in Europe than the U.S. given its mostly a mature market and controlled by the likes of JC Decaux, Stroer, Clear Channel, Global Media, Ocean Outdoor and a handful of others.  Isn’t organic growth in Europe highly constrained? 

Oblonsky:  Well first off, they are a bit of both.  Both a SaaS offering to other vendors as well as owning their own inventory.  But in addition, they stay away from the traditional outdoor channels and pursue retail channels such as storefronts, convenience stores and bakeries.

…And just as I was about to pull out my smartie pants and tell him all about Danoo and a host of the others that produced a beautiful nuclear cloud, El Kabong jumped on my shoulder ( El Kabong Smashing Folks ) and reminded me that Europe plays differently than the U.S.

So with that I told Oblonsky I would love to grab a drink and learn more about the Company, its ability to acquire good long term media real estate, how much it would need to achieve critical mass, whether the cost of customer acquisition made sense, what regulatory hurdles it was up against, what differentiated its SaaS from everyone else’s, what its programmatic strategy was, what the management team’s pedigree was, what was its current pre-money valuation expectations…and maybe a few more questions. 

In my business…you just never know. (Although sometimes you do)


Neunundneunzig Luftballons
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont
Hielt man für UFOs aus dem All
Darum schickte ein General
‘Ne Fliegerstaffel hinterher
Alarm zu geben, wenn’s so wär
Dabei war’n dort am Horizont nur neunundneunzig Luftballons

Neunundneunzig Düsenflieger
Jeder war ein grosser Krieger
Hielten sich für Captain Kirk
Das gab ein grosses Feuerwerk
Die Nachbarn haben nichts gerafft
Und fühlten sich gleich angemacht
Dabei schoss man am Horizont auf neunundneunzig Luftballons

Neunundneunzig Kriegsminister Streichholz und Benzinkanister
Hielten sich für schlaue Leute
Witterten schon fette Beute
Riefen “Krieg!” und wollten Macht
Mann, wer hätte das gedacht
Dass es einmal soweit kommt
Wegen neunundneunzig Luftballons


Ninety-nine red balloons
Floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it’s red alert

There’s something here from somewhere else
The war machine springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky

Where ninety-nine red balloons go by

Ninety-nine decision street
Ninety-nine ministers meet
To worry, worry, super scurry
Call the troops out in a hurry

This is what we’ve waited for
This is it, boys, this is war

The president is on the line
As ninety-nine red balloons go by

Source:  Nena

(Tell me that song is not as relevant now as it was in 1983!)



Securities transacted through StillPoint Capital Member firm FINRA/SiPC

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