OOH Today’s Champion- Daniel Wilkins
How he went from 18 year old entrepreneur, to Award winning CEO
OOH Today highlights a Champion of Out of Home featuring people who define the many aspects that make up Outdoor Advertising. We share the faces and stories behind the names of those who add personal touches while Championing OOH as a great medium. Human contact is still an important part of Out Of Home. Outdoor Advertising is an industry where the people behind the company, are as important as the company itself.
Today, we are visiting with Daniel Wilkins.
Daniel Wilkins started in the outdoor industry in 2000, as an assistant media coordinator at Wilkins Media Company. In January 2008, he launched the first ever privately held media agency solely dedicated to the planning and buying of digital place-based media campaigns, called n2.
Under Daniel’s direction, his team won multiple industry related awards for their work including the following:
In 2012, he sold both of his companies, Wilkins Media Company and n2, to a private investment group.
In December 2013 Daniel launched Agency672, which simplifies the planning and buying process of digital display and out-of-home media formats globally. He is also the Executive Director of the PVBLIC Foundation, a non-profit organization that utilizes media to drive social change. The PVBLIC Foundation is best known for their work with the White House on the It’s On Us campaign, which raised awareness about sexual assault and consent on college campuses in the United States, and for their work with the United Nations on the Sustainable Development Goals.
BB: Daniel, Is it Daniel? Or Dan? What do you prefer?
DW: It’s Daniel.
BB: Very good. Daniel, you have a rich pedigree following a legend in Out of Home, namely, your father Bill Wilkins. When did you start in the OOH business?
DW: It’s started at Wilkins Media Company when I was 18 years old, right out of high school. What was supposed to be a short social experiment for me before going to college, became a 17 year and counting career in media. I never grew up thinking I would be in the outdoor or media related industries, even though I went to all the TAB conventions until I was in high school, and my childhood was spent in Patrick (Outdoor the predecessor to Clear Channel) and Lamar t-shirts. About a year after working at Wilkins Media, my father (Bill Wilkins) and I sat down and had a serious conversation about my future there. We mutually decided that he would put me where he needed me, to teach me the business, and if at any time I couldn’t handle it, we’d part ways, no hard feelings, and I would go on to college. Conversely, if at any time, I didn’t like the business and wanted to pursue other things, I could leave and go to college. We shook on that deal and never looked back. In 2004, I moved to New York, to cut my teeth in sales, and was just awful at it. The time spent in the city, however, ended up paying dividends in numerous ways. I built relationships, both personal and professional, that continue to shape and influence my career path today. I was introduced to some people who opened my eyes to the importance of using my strengths for more than just myself and my own career.
Returning to Atlanta and helping to grow the company, I took over day-to-day leadership as CEO, in 2009. In 2012, we sold Wilkins Media Company and the digital place-based media agency that I started in 2008, ‘n2’, to a group of private investors. I stayed on for a short time with the owners, then left to help another start-up in our space. That was even shorter lived and they let me go late in 2013. I had been kicking around the idea of starting another outdoor specialist company for a couple of months leading up to them letting me go, but honestly, I didn’t have the courage to make the jump on my own. Them letting me go, was one of the biggest blessings I have ever received. I hit the ground running that afternoon, secured my domain, set up my email, called clients I had been working with, and began working on all the things one does when starting a new company. That was December of 2013 and I haven’t looked back since.
BB: The new company, Agency672?
DW: Yes. Agency672 started out as a traditional out-of-home specialist. We helped clients plan and buy outdoor more efficiently and cost effectively. In 2014, my company started helping a new non-profit called PVBLIC Foundation (www.pvblic.org). PVBLIC was created to help non-profits use media to amplify their message and create social change. The foundation was started by Sergio Fernandez de Cordova, an OOH industry vet who was the co-founder of Fuel Outdoor. Our company helped the foundation access unsold OOH media space for the non-profits they worked with. By 2015, I was the executive director of PVBLIC and running Agency672. I am still not entirely sure how exactly that happened, but it was serendipitous in that PVBLIC works within all media, not just OOH, and it allowed me to expand my experience. That experience made it possible for me to expand Agency672’s service offerings beyond out-of-home. We now have full service capabilities, but focus primarily on digital display/online, mobile and out-of-home.
BB: How do you see the future of Outdoor Advertising?
DW: I think the outdoor industry is uniquely positioned to compliment and amplify what clients are doing online. Mobile makes this possible and has brought outdoor into the direct response conversation, where in the past, outdoor had a very difficult time in this area. In addition, the data collected by advertisers through their online marketing efforts can be used to make their outdoor buys smarter and more targeted, while leveraging outdoor’s comparatively low CPM. That same technology is also allowing the outdoor industry to be more precise about measuring its audiences and the performance of outdoor campaigns. We have found success in this area and I find it disheartening at times to see the outdoor industry choose to attack digital media (real vs. fake impressions), instead of talking about how outdoor can have an amplifying effect on a client’s digital campaigns.
We (the outdoor industry) need to remember digital (online), on its worse day, can still provide an advertiser with more valuable metrics, relative to sales conversions and ROI, than outdoor can on its best.
We would be better served talking about how OOH can boost the area where clients are increasing their media investment faster than in any other media segment (desktop and mobile), then we can in trying to argue why those increases and investments are not ideal.
Until our metrics and ability to prove ROI meets or exceeds those of online and mobile, we lose that argument 99.9 times out of 100. That said, I love that technology enhances and improves OOH in so many different areas, where technology caused problems, to be kind, to other media formats. In general, I am extremely optimistic about the direction we are headed.