Investment Note

The medium is the message: why we invested in Wrappr

Written by
Sam Henderson
On behalf of the Skalata Investment Team
“Advocate OOH offers marketers a rare opportunity to cut through the noise – allowing the medium to communicate their message.”
Liam Shaw

It’s the knowledge marketers are cursed with: 89% of ads go either unnoticed or forgotten. 

But what’s not so easy to forget? A sleek new Polestar 2 in a full LEGO City wrap.

A Wrappr Advocate drives a Polestar 2 wrapped with LEGO branding, in Sydney NSW.

The Metaverse was supposed to be the future of advertising, but it turns out people are still enjoying the real world. Advertising trends are following suit, with revenue for the out of home advertising industry up almost 12% from Q3 2022-23.

But with billboards getting better, marketers still need unique ways to achieve cut through.

And one thing that’s always attracting eyeballs is the shiny new EVs parading the Sydney boulevards. 

The concept of Wrappr is simple: wrap cars with ads, pay drivers, and give brands mobile, always-on ad beacons at a fraction of the cost of major-scale digital billboards.

The (marketing) science behind it is slightly less simple. Wrappr has created its own custom-built data engine, LIFT - a pioneering campaign measurement and attribution technology powered by an opt-in mobile location database. 

In plain English: it tracks eyeballs and exposure by taking (de-identified) location data from nearby smartphones, giving brands direct feedback on their ad performance. A valuable tool when less than 20% of marketers feel they can accurately measure ROI.

But Wrappr’s edge isn’t just the tech, it’s the drivers. Carefully selected, on-brand members of the communities they’re advertising for - who as of November 2023 have surpassed a collective $1 million in earnings.

Meet the problem 

Coined as ‘Advocate OOH’ by founders/brothers Liam and Jonte Shaw - a category they’re pioneering - Wrappr was built to tackle the many problems plaguing the advertising industry.

Namely: privacy regulation, rising costs, poor engagement, poor tracking, and one-dimensionality. 

Paper billboards are being replaced with digital billboards which require management, maintenance, and for advertisers to share space. Pricing models can be complicated with peak hours costing brands more.

TV ad spends are down 9.4%. Magazines are down 14.8%. Cookies are on the way out, meaning many digital strategies are likely to go the same way. An awakened, clued-in, ad-blocker-aware consumer base means people are harder to sell to than ever. 

The future of advertising is no longer found at home. A renaissance is happening for OOH and DOOH (digital out of home) - albeit a much newer, shiner, more trackable version - with the “back to reality” trend seeing it jump 10% in the first half of 2023 alone.

Meet the product 

Once a new driver (or “advocate”) is approved, they are matched with an advertiser based on their vehicle, age, family status, location and driving behaviour. Wrappr uses a series demographic-based questions to ensure their advocates are targeting the right passers-by.

Once a campaign is underway, Wrappr measures the campaign’s performance through its Advocate App which tracks driving safety and collects second-by-second GPS data. 

Foot traffic counters are installed in each vehicle, counting the WiFi signal requests of nearby smartphones.

The LIFT system compares the route with those smartphone locations to measure exposure. 

Any smartphone within an 80m radius of the vehicle is counted as an impression, and smartphones that stay within 20m for 30+ seconds are counted as engagements.

If more smartphones are tracked to the advertised store after being exposed to the ad, that's a “foot traffic uplift”. If more exposed smartphones visit the advertised company’s website, that's an “online uplift”.

Wrappr is already working with major brands including Woolworths.

Currently it takes a couple of days for the reporting to kick in, but Wrappr hopes to have this extremely valuable campaign measuring data available on a real-time dashboard for customers in the near future.

Customers receive a report outlining marketing metrics, heat maps of target locations, driver safety scores, and carbon offsetting data. All is verified by independent partners.

The car gets wrapped by national partners Liberty Signs, and fitted with sensors which identify every nearby smartphone anonymously sharing their location data. 

Using LIFT, brands can see how many people viewed the wrapped vehicle, how many stayed within a 20 metre range for 30+ seconds, and how many people followed up with a store or website visit.

Brands can then calculate CAC or actual ROI – something not possible with a static billboard.

Defensibility is strong: brands must pay to have vehicles unwrapped (only to have them rewrapped by a competitor). 

Scalability is promising: wrapped cars can be driven by anyone with a new car or van and interested in making an extra $500 a month (a great way to make a conscientious EV purchase more affordable). 

The timing is good: people are embracing the side hustle and want to maximise profits for delivery driving. Some are just trying to ride out the cost of living crisis, seeing the earning opportunity as a no-brainer when they’re doing the miles anyway.  

People (30-40%) are also working from home, meaning the immovable nature of billboard advertising presents a problem. Not much point streaming multi-million dollar ads to an empty business district. 

Ads need to be everywhere and moving. And that’s the beauty: Wrappr’s drivers can do both, spreading the message far and wide, or parking up at stadium events and other high foot-traffic locations.

So far, Wrappr is getting results for the likes of QANTAS, LEGO, Woolworths, eBay, Bank Australia, DoorDash, Dan Murphy’s, and Jimmy Brings.

Meet the founders

“We complement each other really well. Liam is big-picture, ideas, strategy, whilst Jonte is implementation, systems, and creativity within these areas. We both have strong and successful sales backgrounds, good analytical capabilities and have a good head for numbers.”

Liam and Jonte Shaw have that shrewd industry insight we’re always looking for. 

As students, the brothers founded an app for checking the vibe of bars and clubs before you went (priorities). 

Jonte went on to become a Region Launch Managers at EatClub, responsible for signing up the first restaurants to the platform, and growing into a National Sales Manager role. He expanded the team to 20 BDMs reporting in from across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and New York.  

Liam was City Manager at early UberEATS competitor Foodora. It was here he and Jonte coordinated Wrappr’s first wrap campaign, using 20 drivers to generate an 100% increase in food orders across Brisbane.

“We put ads up on Gumtree, Airtasker, Indeed, Facebook and a few other sites, and very quickly found the 20 drivers needed for the campaign. We then coordinated the installation of the wraps, and managed all of the ongoing campaign operations.”

Encouraged by the strong performance of the campaign, the brothers set to work building out the product and introducing it to the market as a new and unique outdoor advertising channel.

Their experiences at share-economy scaleups made them early believers in the volume of people willing to earn side-gig income from their driver’s seats. 

Delivering on promises

Wrappr’s GTM focusses on a land and expand strategy. Once customer relationships are locked in through consistent marketing performance and ROI, subsequent bookings naturally follow.

And this ROI is helping build some seriously premium brand reputations backed by independent case studies, with clients feeding back huge savings.

One got the same value from spending $20,000 on Wrappr as they did spending $100,000 on billboards in Sydney. 

One spent about the same on Wrappr as on billboards, but was delighted with the 100% share of voice they got (as opposed to sharing the space with 6-7 other ads). And one estimated Wrappr worked out about 50% cheaper for them than TV advertising, for the same ROI.

But it’s not just about ROI. The brothers are also advocates for a better planet, and registering Wrappr as a B Corp was a non-negotiable from day one. It’s not just the right thing to do – it also attracts advertisers to the mix.

Bank Australia has partnered with Wrappr on this basis, and there is a growing trend of brands dedicating a certain % of ad dollars to fellow B Corps.

“We want Wrappr to be a new kind of media company – where brands, communities and the environment all benefit. We’re the first B Corp certified media owner in Australia and want to scale to a point where we’re having a meaningful impact on all three fronts.”
Bank Australia has recently partnered with Wrappr – driven by their mutual B Corp credentials.

In the works

Wrappr’s measurement of impressions, engagements, attribution (physical and website), CAC and CPMs is unique in the Australian market. It means brands can iterate and optimise on campaigns and get concrete proof of effectiveness.

Wrappr plans to use this data in the future to guide advocates to drive in locations that target the right customers and maximise campaign ROI. The team also plans to automate data reporting to provide clients with real-time dashboards on campaign performance, as well as a self-serve portal to book campaigns.

It’s added several new travel and leisure companies to its already impressive client list, including Intrepid Travel, Melbourne Renegades, and Iconic Hotels.

The team is building relationships within media agencies to access more reliable revenue streams, and looking into a first-of-its-kind wrap recycling program.

We’re excited to see the brothers change the face of the OOH space. 

The medium is the message

We’re huge proponents of this creative new sector, and strong believers that “the medium is the message”.

The cars are sustainable, mobile, on-brand messengers with extreme power to cut through the noise - seeing them is an experience in itself. 

And not so easy for that 89% of people to forget.

Wrapping up

On the decision to work with Skalata, Liam says:

“The most important thing for us is that we’re bringing on trusted partners who are able to add value beyond just capital. We want partners who are values-aligned and we’re confident will back us through thick and thin.”

“Throughout the process, both Rob & Tom were kind and amicable and gave us confidence that Skalata would be great partners to work with for the long term.”

“We really liked the Skalata approach of a smaller initial investment + mentorship and advisory, followed by a larger investment and the ability to help with Series A and beyond.”
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