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Brex Billboards: A Case Study on OOH Advertising for Startups

Discover how Brex Billboards and Other Out-of-Home Advertising Accelerate Brand Recognition and Growth for Tech Startups.

Published onJuly 25, 2023
Written byEzgi Arslantay
Timing8 min read

In the vibrant landscape of startup marketing, tech companies are constantly on the lookout for innovative and effective ways to reach their target audience. Whether it's through social media campaigns, search engine optimization, content marketing, or more traditional advertising forms, startup marketing aims to create brand awareness and customer loyalty. But there's another promising avenue that tech startups are beginning to leverage – Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising.

In the fiercely competitive world of tech startups, pioneering companies such as Brex, led by CEO Henrique Dubugras, have uncovered innovative advertising strategies that catapult brand recognition and market reach. Brex has employed groundbreaking strategies to utilize Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising, notably through impactful Brex billboards, pushing the boundaries of traditional and digital advertising mediums.

What is OOH Advertising?

Out-of-Home advertising, often abbreviated as OOH, refers to any form of advertising that reaches the consumer while they are outside their home. This could include billboards, bus shelter posters, digital signage at transit stations, ads on the sides of vehicles, and even interactive kiosks. Today, the realm of OOH has extended beyond traditional formats and evolved into digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising, which uses digital media for out-of-home marketing. Both OOH and DOOH have their unique advantages, but their core purpose remains the same – to deliver advertisements to consumers when they're on the move in public spaces.

a billboard at the station
a billboard at the station

Why OOH Ads are Perfect for Startups

Advantages of OOH Advertising for Startups:

AdvantageDescription
Geo-TargetingAllows for precise geo-targeting, making it a powerful tool for startups with a geographically concentrated target audience.
High VisibilityOOH ads are hard to ignore and make a strong impression, increasing brand visibility.
Brand AwarenessOOH advertising places your brand in the public eye, helping startups to establish a strong brand identity.
VersatilityOffers a wide range of formats, giving startups the flexibility to choose a format that suits their message and budget.
Complements Digital MarketingOOH advertising works in harmony with digital marketing, making a well-rounded and effective campaign possible.

Startups, particularly in the tech sector, have a lot to gain from OOH advertising. Here's why:

  • Geo-Targeting:

Many tech startups have a highly specific and geographically concentrated target audience. OOH advertising allows for precise geo-targeting, making it a powerful tool for reaching out to these audiences. For instance, a tech startup based in San Francisco could run an OOH campaign in the Bay Area to effectively reach potential customers.

  • High Visibility: 

OOH ads are hard to ignore. Whether it's a massive billboard along a busy highway or a digital screen in a crowded transit station, OOH ads catch the eye and make a strong impression.

  • Brand Awareness:

OOH advertising is a potent tool for increasing brand visibility and awareness. By placing your brand in the public eye, startups can create a strong brand identity and gain recognition among potential customers.

  • Versatility: 

OOH advertising offers a wide range of formats, from traditional billboards to digital signage, bus wraps, and interactive kiosks. This gives startups the flexibility to choose a format that best suits their brand message and budget.

  • Complements Digital Marketing:

Contrary to what some might think, OOH advertising is not in competition with digital marketing. Instead, they complement each other well. An effective startup marketing strategy can combine the high visibility of OOH ads with the personalization of digital marketing, leading to a well-rounded and effective campaign.

OOH advertising, with its ability to generate high visibility and precisely target audiences, is a powerful marketing tool for tech startups. It offers an exciting avenue for startup marketing, allowing companies to create memorable ad campaigns that stick with consumers and help establish a strong brand presence. As the world of OOH continues to evolve with digital technology, the possibilities for innovative and impactful ad campaigns are endless.

Strategic Impact of Brex Billboards in Tech Startup Advertising

Brex, under the leadership of its CEO Henrique Dubugras, has revolutionized the fintech sector, offering unparalleled solutions in corporate cards tailored to startups and enterprises. Brex blends robust financial management with a seamless user experience, with offerings that span across various business needs, including Travel & Expense cards, Vendor cards, Purchase cards, and more, each fortified with advanced controls and rewarding spending structures.

With worldwide acceptance on the Mastercard network, high spending power based on a company's financial metrics, and smart controls, Brex enhances the financial management experience for businesses. The 5-star rated app provides a seamless user interface for card management, and customers can benefit from a rewarding spending structure that offers up to 7X back.

Further setting Brex apart are the comprehensive security measures, 24/7 customer support, and a suite of offerings including Travel & Expense cards, Vendor cards, Purchase cards, and Benefits cards, each designed to cater to specific business needs. Brex's automated expense management features ensure efficient tracking and compliance with tax laws. With global acceptance, advanced controls, and compelling features, Brex offers a revolutionized approach to corporate cards. 

As outlined in a LinkedIn post by Sam Blond, Brex's former CRO, the startup had several unique advantages that made them a perfect candidate for a billboard campaign. Firstly, their target market, tech startups, was geographically concentrated in the Bay Area, making it easier to reach them with local billboards. Secondly, their product offering was simple and easy to communicate: a corporate card for startups. Lastly, they were launching their product out of beta and were keen to acquire market share as quickly as possible.

To execute their OOH advertising strategy, Brex partnered with Clear Channel, a leading outdoor advertising company. Brex's mandate was clear - go big and get as much value for their investment as possible. With this in mind, they chose to focus on billboards in locations with high foot traffic and long impressions like bus shelters and city boards in downtown SF.

brex credit cards
brex credit cards

They launched their billboard campaign the exact day they launched their product, coupled with a strong PR push. The initial campaign was direct and to the point: "The First Corporate Card for Startups." They wanted to establish their brand before getting creative with their messaging. Once Brex became a household name in SF, largely due to their billboard campaign, they started getting more imaginative with their messaging. They referenced rewards, current events like Brexit, and even tailored messages to the scenery around the billboards.

The results of their billboard campaign were remarkable. Brex became a known name in their target market almost overnight. Whenever Blond mentioned where he worked - to potential customers, investors, candidates - they would all say "I see your billboards EVERYWHERE." Their outbound response rates in SF soared, and they saw rapid growth in business - market share, revenue, valuation - much faster than many B2B tech startups.

Brex's experience offers valuable lessons for other startups considering a billboard campaign. Firstly, ensure that billboards are right for your startup - you want a high concentration of your target market in the area where you're posting. Secondly, if you're going to do a campaign, go big. Repetition is crucial for recognition. Lastly, make sure your messaging is readable, with high contrast between letters and the background, and it explains your product offering succinctly.

Through their smart use of OOH advertising, Brex transformed from a stealth-mode startup into a recognized brand almost overnight, demonstrating the power and effectiveness of well-executed billboard advertising in tech marketing.

How Tech Startups Can Leverage DOOH: Firefly Car Top Screens Case for Brex

Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) advertising presents a unique opportunity for tech startups to leverage innovative ad spaces and mediums. An interesting example of how DOOH can be harnessed is the case of Brex's collaboration with Firefly, a dynamic platform for rideshare top screen advertising.

In a bid to understand if people exposed to Brex's ads on Firefly screens were more likely to visit Brex's website than those who did not see the ads, an experimental study was conducted. The premise was simple: track individuals who saw a Firefly unit running a Brex ad and then match that audience with the audience who visited Brex's website. The idea was to ascertain a correlation between ad exposure and website visits.

brex billboard on the street
brex billboard on the street

The results of this DOOH campaign were impressive. Out of the 82,000 unique devices exposed to the campaign, 1,825 visited Brex's website - that's a significant 90% more than the group that wasn't exposed to the campaign. With a confidence rating of 98%, the impact of the DOOH campaign on website traffic was clearly demonstrated.

Firefly's innovative use of DOOH advertising not only helped Brex enhance its reach but also provided robust metrics to measure the campaign's effectiveness. It proved that tech startups could reach their target audiences in non-traditional ways and in highly concentrated geographic locations. By making strategic use of DOOH advertising, startups can reach potential customers in their daily lives, leading to higher brand visibility and increased website traffic.

As the landscape of startup marketing evolves, tech startups must leverage innovative and diverse advertising methods to make their mark. Out-of-Home advertising, with its broad reach, high visibility, and capacity for geo-targeting, presents an exciting opportunity for startups to increase brand awareness and engage their target market in unique ways.

By examining Brex's successful use of OOH advertising during their launch, it is clear that when executed strategically, OOH advertising can make a significant impact on brand recognition and growth. Brex's case demonstrates the power of location-specific messaging, the importance of high-contrast visuals, and the need for a strong brand narrative that resonates with the target audience. Moreover, Brex's partnership with Firefly shows how startups can harness DOOH's power, especially through unique platforms like car top screens, to drive measurable engagement and website visits.

While OOH and DOOH advertising are not new, they are being revitalized through advances in technology and data analytics. Today's OOH platforms can offer detailed insights into audience reach and engagement, making this form of advertising more accountable and attractive to tech startups.

As the lines between the physical and digital world continue to blur, the integration of OOH with digital marketing channels will become increasingly important. A well-rounded tech marketing strategy will benefit from incorporating both these channels to reach potential customers wherever they may be – at home, at work, or on the move.

In conclusion, as tech startups strive to make a significant impact in their respective markets, OOH and DOOH advertising will be powerful tools in their marketing arsenal. Whether it is through a striking billboard that paints the town in their brand colors or a targeted digital signage campaign that captures the attention of passers-by, OOH advertising offers endless opportunities for startups to make their presence felt in the real world. It's time for tech startups to think outside the box and step into the boundless realm of Out-of-Home advertising.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: How effective is OOH advertising for tech startups?

OOH advertising has proven to be highly effective for tech startups, especially those whose target audience is geographically concentrated. It offers high visibility and brand awareness, along with precise geo-targeting.

Q2: Is OOH advertising expensive for startups?

The cost of OOH advertising can vary based on the location, size, and duration of the campaign. However, it offers a high return on investment, making it a cost-effective marketing tool for startups.

Q3: How can a startup measure the success of an OOH advertising campaign?

Startups can use several methods to measure the success of an OOH advertising campaign, including brand awareness surveys, website traffic analysis, and tracking QR code or promo code usage.

Q4: Can OOH advertising be combined with digital marketing?

Absolutely! In fact, combining OOH advertising with digital marketing can lead to a more effective and well-rounded marketing campaign. One complements the other and helps startups to reach their potential customers wherever they are.

Q5: What's the future of OOH advertising in the startup ecosystem?

The future of OOH advertising is very promising, especially with the growth of Digital OOH (DOOH). Advances in technology and data analytics are making OOH advertising more accountable and effective. For startups, OOH offers a unique opportunity to engage their target audience in the real world, complementing their online marketing efforts.

Out-Of-Home Advertising
Startup Marketing

Ezgi Arslantay

Co-Founder at fucimo

Ezgi Arslantay is a marketing professional and entrepreneur with a diverse background in brand strategy, marketing management, and business development. As the co-founder of fucimo, she assists SMBs and startups to reach and buy media, and enables creators and media networks to increase monetization through innovative technology. Before co-founding fucimo, Ezgi navigated diverse roles in both rising startups and household brands. Follow her fucimo blog for the freshest insights as she explores the intersection of technology, advertising, and business.


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