By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Outdoor advertising might still be a fraction of the huge advertising industry, but it is one sector that offers a lot of growth not just in Metro Manila but for nationwide campaigns.
Elev8 Media Inc. is one promising out of home advertising company. It puts premium on building good customer relationship by delivering only the best service possible.
Young businessman JOSEPH M. HODREAL JR. believes outdoor advertising has yet to reach its full potential as he leads an aggressive and fast-growing organization.
“My parents were already in the industry since they owned and operated a network of radio stations across the Philippines. This gave me the inside look into the industry since this was the usual topic at the dinner table. I started my career in the family business, which was radio. I had the opportunity to learn the ropes when my mom asked me to fix her outdoor advertising business which only had six employees when I joined,” says Joseph.
With his mother’s blessing, Joseph went full time in the outdoor advertising business.
Elev8 Media Inc. was incorporated in 2008, brought about by the experience Joseph already had in the advertising industry.
“The company didn’t have much capital to begin with. We had to grow it through internally generated funds. It was really touch and go in the beginning. We had to be resourceful and efficient in order to survive,” says Joseph.
Luckily, within 2 years, Joseph managed to steady the ship. He constantly brought in projects and eventually a good cash flow.
It was not until 2009 when the company had its big break when it exclusively operated outdoor advertisements in Makati City.
According to Joseph, the company name elev8 was derived from an 80’s band called Dv8. “I was so amused with the combination of letters and numbers to form a word. I finally decided on Elev8, because it signified to me a constant improvement and growth for the company. Never settling on what we have already achieved,” he says.
It provides the best out-of-home (OOH) advertising solutions which can be tailor-fitted to the clients’ needs. The OOH ad mediums offered by the company includes large and small format billboards, light rail transit ads, and transit advertisements.
This 100% Filipino-owned company is dedicated to providing outdoor advertising solutions to companies. It reaches out to their target consumers for various reasons with the end goal of building a strong brand equity.
Elev8 Media initially operated with a client-driven strategy in terms of advertising locations.
Through the years, Elev8 Media has expanded its reach with the constant development of new sites and mediums. The company has acquired premium spots strategically located within the highly populated areas of Bonifacio Global City, Makati City, Aseana City, Parañaque, Taguig, and Bacoor. This resulted in a year-on-year increase in revenues and has made Elev8 Media the leading supplier of innovative out-of-home advertising in the country.
The company is also the home of creative and dynamic professionals committed to provide clients complete end-to-end solutions and quality service. The company’s top priority is delighting its clients by giving importance to their business interests and helping them achieve their goals.
Joseph explained that there are four OOH media formats. These are the Billboards (large and small format), Street Furniture (Bus Shelters, Waiting sheds), Transit (Jeepney Top Ads, Bus Ads, Roving Billboard), and Place-based OOH (Shopping Malls, Cinemas). These formats can either be Traditional or Digital. OOH media also offers the advantages of the technology in online ads with a bonus of being immune to ad blockers.
There are only several big players in the industry that could implement nationwide campaigns, which can be done by partnering with smaller players especially if they have to roll out campaigns in the provinces. More often, clients would have to deal with several suppliers if they want to roll out a national campaign.
Players have to deal with tough competition especially in Metro Manila where 70 percent of OOH advertising is spent.
“However, we believe that if you deliver products and services and you deliver it with the highest quality. complete and on time, you definitely have the advantage already,” says Joseph.
Because of the good relationships with clients, who are satisfied with the services they provide, they have been getting an increasing share of the huge OOH media market.
But like all businesses, the OOH media is also faced with challenges.
One of the biggest challenges in this business is the break dates of the clients.
“Most clients want their campaigns delivered yesterday and they want everything done, regardless of how unique it is, yesterday,” he adds.
“The hardest part is delivering under the time element what the client really wants while still maintaining the standard quality that we have set.” To avoid delays, Joseph has decided to offer a one-stop-shop service to clients from printing to installation, quality assurance, monitoring, and dismantling.
Joseph believes this is a good business noting how they’ve grown over the years.
“We started out with zero and we’ve grown a lot. But based on our first year of doing business, our sales hit P8 million only,” recalls Joseph. But after 12 years in business, “We’re now doing P250 million a year so that’s about 37 percent compounded annual growth rate.”
The OOH media is also thriving. The properties on which the media stands are just leased to them and which in turn are subleased to clients.
The cost per billboard depends on the size. But the biggest one along EDSA, near Guadalupe, would range around from P1 to P4 million a month.
Joseph also expressed optimism that the industry will continue to grow. He cited the PwC’s Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2019-2023, which showed that Asia Pacific will account for 53 percent of OOH revenue growth. One advertiser’s expenditure forecast showed that the industry’s growth will remain between 4-5 percent until 2020 and that the Philippines is one of the top 10 markets that will contribute to the global growth at 3 percent.
“So, there is still a strong market for the outdoor advertising industry and it will just continue to grow within the next years especially with the prevalence of digital OOH,” says Joseph.
Outdoor advertising industry is huge estimated at P22 billion, but still small compared to the estimated P258 billion total advertising industry in the country, according to a 2019 Global Ad Spend Report.
“There is still a lot of room for growth in terms of market share. We think that we’re in the position that we can capitalize and eventually, not only become the biggest, but have the majority of the pie of the industry as a whole,” he adds.
He also sees a lot of growth prospects for Elev8, noting they are just focusing in Metro Manila and nearby areas. For nationwide campaigns, execution of projects is done in collaboration with provincial partners.
This positive growth prospect is also an opportunity for Elev8 Media to expand its offerings.
“Since, we’re mainly focused on small-format mediums (lamppost banners), we would like to get into bigger formats and even digital OOH,” Joseph adds.
But for now, the best way to grow is to focus on the customer.
“We would like to always be aligned with what the customers want and we believe that if we continue delivering the services that works for them and helps them meet their targets, then we would continuously be entrusted with their business,” he adds.
Contrary to what most advertising people have experienced in terms of stress level and competition, Joseph said that a career in advertising is actually fun but hastened to add that it can be pretty stressful if you are not selling enough.
But overall, Joseph said, “It’s a fun industry to be in. You get to meet a lot of people, you get to attend a lot of events and you get to learn about a lot of businesses. That’s the exciting part about the advertising industry.”
He loves meeting a lot of people and learning from them. “Every time I meet someone new, it’s impossible that I don’t learn something because I ask a lot of questions and that excites me,” says Joseph.
Joseph is also the kind of boss who would give his people all the liberty to do their work and deliver the best result.
“I will steer them, guide them to the right direction but at the end of the day, it is up to them to be the best employees and be the best persons and most successful that they can be. I will give them the tools and the training but at the end of the day, all of us would want to succeed together,” says Joseph, who makes sure he spends quality time with family.
He added there is no secret to their success, just pure hard work, focus, dedication and basically leaving it all on the table.
As a young businessman, Joseph admires those ahead of him, particularly the taipans.
“I love the perseverance and tenacity of Henry Sy Sr. because he did it in one lifetime. He became the most successful person in his time. I love the Gokongweis, too, because they’ve managed to incorporate their family into the business while having the right structure so that nepotism does not set in. And I love the Ayalas because of their professionalism,” says Joseph.
He does not consider himself successful yet saying there is still a long way to learn and conquer.
“There’s still a lot that I want to accomplish and to experience. And that path is something that I look forward to and I’m excited for,” he concludes.