Heard on the Street, Episode 6: Engineering, Surfing, and Acting with Frost Prioleau
How do you bring brand-like programmatic advertising to local advertisers who spend less than $4 per day? It takes good software and partnerships to hit the sweet spots of automation and customization, according to Simpli.fi co-founder and CEO Frost Prioleau, our latest guest on Heard on the Street.
“A lot of the programmatic advertising firms are more interested in the big national budgets,” Prioleau told us. “We’ve got 80,000 live campaigns every month, and well over half of those are less than $4 per day. So, it’s automating micro-campaigns that local advertisers want to customize to their needs.”
One vertical in particular where Simpli.fi has established a strong presence is autos—a high-value advertiser category where the consideration cycle and transaction are inherently local. Among its campaign mix mentioned above, it usually has about 15,000 live auto campaigns at any given time, says Prioleau.
“Our focus [in autos] has been, how do we bring personalization and the dynamic creative that people see with large advertisers to the local dealer level,” he said. “How do we bring it to a prospecting solution where it’s not just a personalized ad based on people who went to a dealer site, but someone who searched for a red Corvette: How do we show that user a red corvette from a local dealer site he hasn’t been to.”
Beyond software innovation, Prioleau also has lots to say on company building and culture. For Prioleau, good culture comes back to building a place where people want to work. Simpli.fi’s Fort Worth HQ brings some quality-of-life advantages to the table.
He’s also picked up funding tactics through the process of finding the right investors.
“One—get great advice from a lawyer who knows the state of the art,” said Prioleau. Secondly, it’s important to focus on who your investors are and what their reputation is… Those are the people you’re going to be in business with, and they have all kinds of ability to improve the outcome of the company or screw it up.”
As for what’s next, the engineering-minded Prioleau is on an ongoing quest to improve that sweet spot at the elusive convergence of customization, localization, and automation. These quality and scalability vectors are inherently at odds. So it’s all about engineering ways to bring them together, especially with smaller/local campaigns.
“We see a lot of integration and automation,” said Prioleau. “How do we optimize campaigns? How do we pull insights? It’s about integrating with players in the space who run workflow, integrating with other reporting solutions, and all the automated optimization to make sure performance is being driven.”
Check out the full episode above, which also includes a discussion of Prioleau’s engineering background, college acting troupe, reading habits, and how to surf and ski in Texas. Find out more about Heard on the Street here, and stay tuned for episodes every two weeks.
Mike Boland is Street Fight’s lead analyst, author of the Road Map column, and producer of the Heard on the Street podcast. He covers AR & VR as chief analyst of ARtillry Intelligence and SF President of the VR/AR Association. He has been an analyst in the local space since 2005, covering mobile, social, and emerging tech.