Choosing Their Own Adventure, This OOH Company Sees All the World a Canvas
Vector CEO Marc Borzykowski Interview
Q & A with Vector CEO, Marc Borzykowski
Vector Media arguably represents the one of the largest spectrum of Out of Home advertising. Their ‘integrated media platforms’ include transit, experiential, digital, billboards, street furniture and creative.
Vector Media CEO, Marc Borzykowski, has been with NYC based, company since 2005 where he started in the real estate space. Climbing the ladder at Vector to General Council, to Chief Operating Officer and in 2017, named CEO, Borzykowski has seen the company expand with the greatest markets’ growth occurring in the last 3 years with the acquisition of Direct Media.
OOH Today finds Vector Media an unique OOH provider pushing the Industry with its brands of outdoor advertising executions.
We asked Marc Borzykowski (MB.) for some time with a brief Q & A to learn more.
Here’s our discussion.
OOHToday. Vector has expanded to multiple markets in the last 24 months. Please share with us the markets and highlights of those expanded markets.
MB. In 2018, Vector acquired Direct Media adding 25 public transit markets to our portfolio and doubling the number of people on our team across the country. This acquisition facilitated our move toward creating the largest transit media network in the US. Our website, vectormedia.com, is the best place to see a complete list.
While the acquired markets were primarily located along the eastern, midwestern and southeastern parts of the country, we have continued to grow our network further into the south (through the acquisition of Laurel Outdoor in New Orleans) and west (by winning the contracts for Santa Monica, Culver City, Contra Costa and Eastern Contra Costa County in California).
Vector is now in 55 markets with over 5,000 transit vehicles compared to 15 markets just 3 short years ago. We are extremely excited about all of these markets as we now have the ability to combine our public and private transit into the only nationwide large-format transit network.
OOHToday. Besides the same inventory as the markets you acquired, what else does Vector bring to the new markets which the previous ownership did not have?
MB. We have been successful growing these new markets by leveraging Vector’s core strengths developed over the past two decades. Our talented national sales force has increased ship-in revenue to these new markets significantly, creating near-instant growth for our transit partners. Additionally, with a more focused local effort and by introducing our unique data and attribution tools, we have been able to grow local and regional accounts at an accelerated rate.
OOHToday. Are all the markets fitting in with Vector’s business model?
MB. We continue to be focused on core city centers as well as key surrounding areas. Adding complementary markets, products and people is fundamental to that effort and has enabled us to scale in a sustainable way. As a result, our revenue and asset base have become much more diverse, and we are proud of that.
We will never deviate from the values that got us here and, as such, we’ve made a point to distill the key aspects of Vector—–creativity, fun and exceptional client service—and infuse them into a broader strategy focused on scalability, accountability and reach.
Local still makes up the majority of revenue in the new markets we’ve acquired, but as of 2019, on an aggregate basis, national sales in those markets have grown by approximately 25% since our acquisition.
OOHToday. How has the ratio of Local to National Sales changed or stayed the same in the new markets you acquired?
MB. Local still makes up the majority of revenue in the new markets we’ve acquired, but as of 2019, on an aggregate basis, national sales in those markets have grown by approximately 25% since our acquisition.
OOHToday. What is your average breakdown of local to national revenue? Where is growth?
MB. Our business is pretty evenly between local and national which is a big shift from only 3 years ago when we were about 85% national. The shift is the result of the rapid growth of our municipal transit business which was almost entirely local prior to our adding in a national component.
OOHToday. How has the culture of Vector Media changed with the departure of Bill Schwartz and addition of Marc Borzykowski?
MB. I’ve been at Vector for over 15 years and had the privilege of working closely with Bill for the first 12 years of my tenure. Few in the industry would disagree that Bill is a pioneer in the OOH world, and I would argue that his unique blend of salesmanship and creativity is second to none. We are lucky to still have access to his creative mind as a member of our board. In terms of culture, as the business has expanded and evolved, I’ve been deliberate about maintaining the fun, creative culture that Bill started, while at the same time infusing my own values into the ethos. Hopefully, this translates into an environment that is also thoughtful, deliberative and fosters a pursuit of excellence across the entire organization. Given that we have grown from 50 to 200 people and from 5 to 30 offices in the past three years, this has required a top-notch leadership team to make sure everyone is aligned.
To build the team, we’ve leveraged the best talent from inside Vector, from other areas of the industry and from beyond the OOH world. Our Chief Revenue Officer, Gary Greenstein, has been at Vector since its founding and is someone I’ve worked closely with for my 15 years here. Gary is highly regarded industry wide as one of the most qualified and passionate sales leaders in the space and he is uniquely suited to both carry on Bill’s legacy and to evolve Vector to meet the ever-changing landscape.
Several years ago, we also created a new executive role at Vector, the Chief Strategy Officer and brought in Jim MacCurtain from NBC. Jim has a uniquely impressive background, having previously worked at some of the largest media organizations in the world and has proven vital to Vector’s growth strategy as it has evolved.
At the same time as we purchased Direct Media, we brought on Dave Daucanski, our EVP of Public Transit Media and industry veteran who previously held leadership positions at Lamar and Clear Channel. As Vector has expanded its business more into the local side with its municipal transit growth, Dave has proven to be an exceptional leader and deserves a lot of credit for Vector’s recent success.
Ultimately, as a leader, the best thing I can do is find the right people and put them in a position to succeed. I like to think that I’m a good judge of character and ability and that I bring enough humility and objectivity to the table to get the job done. It’s worked so far.
OOHToday. Firefly, Curb taxi and Wrapify are becoming more prominent in the NYC transit picture; are they getting into some of your revenues?
MB. We have not felt any of the effects from these particular entrants, as we tend to compete more directly with the other larger platforms, but we welcome them to the space. Companies like these attract new advertisers and attention to transit advertising that can benefit everyone as it has always been the case that we all stand to gain much more from growth in OOH than we do from shifting market share to and from one another. 2019 was a great example of that.
OOHToday. Of all the formats you have, which do best and you would like more of? Or which should be doing better?
MB. I think of it less in terms of format and more in terms of market and strategy. Not every product is right for every advertiser nor is every market relevant. Our responsibility is to find the advertisers that benefit most from what we offer, to help them execute in a way that connects to their audience and to show them that the ROI from our products and strategies outperforms other options, both in OOH and more broadly.
OOHToday. What do brands need to know about Vector?
MB. First, Vector has the largest and only national network of large-format, moving advertising in the country. Our reach expands from core city centers in 55 cities from coast to coast, so if you are looking for impact and scale, Vector has the solution.
Second, nothing excites us more than helping our clients to ensure that their program cuts through the clutter. Whether it’s deploying innovative creative solutions, incorporating event targeting through our experiential division or adding retargeting and measurement capabilities. We get excited by creativity and integration – what we call a “full-stack” approach.
Third, we value people, respect our competitors and believe that social consciousness is an essential aspect of our mission. As a result, we have become involved in numerous charitable causes and are even raising our second seeing eye dog.
Finally, our people are our greatest asset. The work we do would be impossible were it not for a dedicated group of talented professionals across multiple disciplines, working together and loving what they do.
OOHToday. Where do you see growth coming from for Vector with regards to categories and formats?
MB. In the next few years, we will continue to build our transit platform across the country. We will also be accelerating our digital growth through conversions and new products.
Over the past year, advertisers have begun to see Vector as a platform that is uniquely positioned to deliver reach and impact in the core city centers of every major city across the country through our proprietary Large Format Transit Network. Our experiential capabilities have become truly one-of-a-kind in the past few years as well, so brands now use our OOH for a consistent, sustained presence and then deliver custom brand experiences to forge deeper connections with consumers.
In terms of categories, we are seeing growth in healthcare and professional services and expect to see this continue with the aging boomer population and the continued shift toward a service economy. We also continue to experience growth in entertainment, technology and fashion, although we are also seeing a lot of new entrants that are leading to much of this growth.
OOHToday. Anything new on the horizon? Will Vector be in on the hunt for LA street furniture coming up for bid?
MB. More markets, more digital, more creativity and better measurement. As far as Los Angeles is concerned, we are still exploring.
OOHToday. Will programmatic become one of the Vector sales solutions?
MB. Absolutely. Like others in the industry we are in the process of digitizing a portion our inventory. Given how much of our media is moving, there are unique challenges, but we’ve invested in some cutting-edge solutions that we have already begun rolling out. We have the broadest network of fixed-route vehicles in the nation and we expect programmatic to become an increasingly important component of our revenue in the future.
OOHToday. Any one programmatic platform you favor over another?
MB. We have just launched with Vistar for our new Samsung digital shelter panels in Las Vegas. Based on the results of this pilot we expect to bring more inventory online throughout 2020. We have also been speaking with other programmatic platforms and as of now I see no reason to limit ourselves in this regard.
OOHToday. Talk to us about measurement? You are Geopath audited, is all your inventory Geopath audited?
MB. As the OOH industry evolves, the need for measurement has become increasingly apparent, especially for transit media. We integrate measurement into our sales process in the early stages to allow clients to benchmark and compare our performance and we use Geopath’s measurements to accomplish this. The majority of our inventory is Geopath-audited, and we strive to audit new inventory as soon as we acquire it to ensure our clients have access to all of the information they need when making decisions
OOHToday. Can you discuss any further Measurement and Attribution opportunities? Are you familiar with what Blue Bite is doing?
MB. We actually work closely with Blue Bite and it was our suggestion/challenge that led to them creating their shadowfencing (roving geofence) product. We are highly focused on attribution and work with multiple third-parties to be able to provide a broad range of products to our clients based on their individual needs and KPIs. Attribution is really the holy grail for all media, especially for OOH given the historical challenges in providing it. In the next 6 months we expect to make some new announcements in this regard, as technology has really begun to improve lately.
OOHToday. Tell us how you get the buses to all the championship venues like DC for NHL Capitals, KC for NFL Chiefs?
MB. It’s pretty funny because I’ve been at Vector long enough to remember when we had the whole company pulling for one team to win because that team was in a “Vector City”. Now that our platform has expanded so much nationally, we almost always have inventory in both championship cities, so we will typically have contingent deals with both teams and/or their sponsors prior to the determination of a winner. At times we have to supplement fleets with vehicles from neighboring cities, but given our exclusive national network of double deckers, we’re never bringing them in from very far. The real challenge is printing and installing up to 30 vehicles over the course of 36 hours prior to the parade, which is where our expertise really comes into play. We have photos of our printers standing next to their machines with game 7 playing on their mobile phone and one hand on the start button. It’s intense but that’s what makes it fun, and our clients know that they can count on us to do what it takes to make sure it gets done.
OOHToday. Are you hosting a party this year at GO2020 OOH Conference? Will OOH Today get an invite?
MB. Yes and of course!!
OOHToday. Three wishes for the industry to fix, grow or change?
1. Creativity – Our medium is unique and is not often utilized to its creative potential. Too often, OOH is bought as an adjunct to a larger traditional buy and the creative shows. We have such a unique opportunity to grab people where they live and work and I’d like to see it taken advantage of more.
2. Proof – More clients are realizing that online is saturated and that the best way to build a brand is OOH. We need attribution technology to continue to evolve and to standardize so the industry can speak with a single voice and claim its rightful share.
3. Integration – I would like to see the definition of OOH expand and to see more integrated planning. The impact of media formats working together is undeniable, but it takes a lot more work to pull it off.