The fast lane: Advertising vet’s new venture drives into the market for truckside billboards
In a career that has spanned nearly 20 years, Glenn Anderson has sold advertising in a variety of mediums. And, for his latest venture, Plymouth-based Traffic Drivers Outdoor Advertising, Anderson is taking that expertise out on the road. With Traffic Drivers, Anderson is using open space on the sides of trucks that travel consistent delivery routes, such as those delivering to convenience and liquor stores, throughout New England, as a form of high-visibility, affordable outdoor advertising for his clients. Since launching in 2009, Traffic Drivers has counted amongst its clients such businesses as Route 44 Toyota-Hyundai of Raynham, AJ Marks Jewelers in Hyannis and Wareham, Hy-Line Cruises of Hyannis and Santa’s Village of Jefferson, N.H. The company is equipped to handle the design, printing and installation of its clients’ truckside billboards, which are typically about 8 feet high and 25 to 50 feet in length. “Because the trucks are constantly moving, and they’re on busy roads and in busy areas, they’re reaching a substantial number of people per day,” said Anderson, 43. He said there’s also a potential cost savings to the truckside ad concept: While it can differ, depending on the market, Anderson said most stationary billboards that appear on the highway in the Boston area cost as much as $15,000 to $25,000 per month. By contrast, an ad that appears on three sides of a Traffic Drivers truck is under $2,000 a month, Anderson said. There’s a “green” angle to this business, as well, in using existing delivery trucks, Anderson said: “We’re just taking advantage of space that is already there and in front of people. We’re not causing extra pollution or wasting gas.” Traffic Drivers currently has access to more than 100 trucks. Anderson said he currently has contracts with two large trucking and distribution companies and a handful of smaller ones. “I probably know more about trucks than I ever thought I would,” he said. While Traffic Drivers pulled in just $15,000 in revenue in 2009 — its truckside billboards didn’t actually hit the streets until the fourth quarter, Anderson said — he’s expecting the company will bring in at least $600,000 by this year’s end. He based this on the fact that the company is ramping up its sales efforts with the addition of a new full-time person, which will increase its staff to four members. Also, the company recently signed a contract with a freight company (which added 50 trucks to its fleet), which will enable it to add larger regional routes. Future opportunities, said Anderson, may include taxi tops. A key challenge involves educating the local market about an advertising medium that is “not very prevalent in New England,” Anderson said. “What I try to explain to people is that it’s really a hybrid between transit advertising and traditional billboards,” he said. Arnie Rothschild, president of Normal Communications LLC in Rochester, N.Y., has been doing transit advertising for a number of years and has served as an informal consultant to Anderson.“Out-of-home media is a huge growth area,” he said. Tim Bruno, general manager of Traffic Drivers client Route 44 Toyota-Hyundai in Raynham, said, “For the amount of money you pay, (truckside advertising) is a no-brainer, as opposed to a stationary billboard.”
Anderson brings a vast amount of prior advertising and media sales experience to this endeavor, including roles as a production assistant with Cramer Productions (now known as Cramer), account executive with Saga Communications/WAQY-FM in Springfield, and sales manager and integrated marketing manager with Clear Channel Communications in Raleigh, N.C. After Anderson left Clear Channel in 2001, he started his own ad agency, which in 2004 became ViaMark Advertising. The North Carolina-based company, which he owns with Mark Storie, has grown to 12 franchise offices, and more than $15 million in annual media billings. For years, Anderson said, he had been doing billboard-buying for clients in the Southeast. He took note of the fact that in certain large markets, traditional billboards weren’t affordable for some of his clients. About five years ago, Anderson discovered one company in North Carolina that had been selling truckside mobile billboards, and shortly thereafter he noticed the concept in other states, as well. Eventually, Anderson moved back to Massachusetts, where he continues to serve as vice president of ViaMark. He said last year’s recession-dictated slowdown in the advertising industry left him with a window of opportunity to devote some time to launching a new business, focused around the truckside advertising concept. Hence, Traffic Drivers Outdoor Advertising was born. “It seemed like a much simpler business from the outside looking in,” he said. Anderson said there were several stumbling blocks. For one, it took a number of months to find a suitable trucking company that was making consistent deliveries and didn’t already have their name or other information on the sides of their trucks. Also, he had to find the right type of installation system that wouldn’t cause damage to the trucks. He also had to find the right types of customers — chiefly those who were looking to reach their audience in multiple counties, rather than two or three towns, to match the routes of his fleet. “It’s been a matter of pushing forward, and developing systems for everything you do,” said Anderson.