How BLKBOX plans to revolutionize digital ad spend
Athar Zia thinks there is a lag in the advertising industry. On the one hand, the advent of social media platforms and other digital channels has created opportunities for businesses to launch and grow in whole new ways. On the other hand, building advertising strategies to maximize the potential of these platforms is rooted in the traditional practices of industries, based on slow, manual processes that never seem to really deliver the promised value.
“Advertising and media buying is the growth engine for so many businesses and we’ve seen how technology has improved creative outcomes on so many levels,” says Zia, CEO and co-founder of BLKBOX. “But there hasn’t been any innovation in much of the industry at large, especially for media buyers; it remains a manual and time consuming affair and prone to human error.
BLKBOX claims that it will close this disconnection. Zia’s big idea is that an automated and intelligent media platform should enable advertisers to both drastically reduce inefficiencies in the current buying process and improve their ROIs as well.
The company grew out of the experience of Zia and co-founder Jay Shah, both of whom previously worked at Facebook to manage ad spend for companies using the social media giant to grow their businesses. The duo are used to customers’ frustration with the mechanics of buying advertising, which required them to constantly work their way through the various permutations of where and how to spend their money to generate the best response.
In some companies, Zia explains, teams of buyers spend six hours a day simply making tweaks and adjustments to try to identify the most rewarding buying choices. Even then, there is no guarantee that they will maximize the potential of their spending.
Instead of this manual approach, BLKBOX offers an automated solution, helping advertisers to book the best approach spots thanks to intelligent algorithms that replace manual work. “It’s about minimizing the effort that the company has to put in to be able to grow profitably,” explains Zia.
The company, launched just over 12 months ago, claims impressive results from the customers it has worked with to refine the software. BLKBOX says it can cut campaign management time from six hours a day to six minutes and help customers quickly triple their ad spend. This success has seen it go from a closed approach, working with a handful of clients, to a broader market launch this month.
Advertisers remain responsible for developing the creative material for their campaigns, but simply hand them over to BKLBOX, along with their budget details and the key metrics they are targeting. Based on this information, the company’s algorithms build and implement a tailor-made strategy for customers.
Initially, BLKBOX focuses on customers placing ads on Facebook, but the technology easily adapts to other platforms. Over the next year, Zia plans to launch similar services for customers targeting Google, TikTok, Snapchat, Apple, Twitter, and ad networks.
Zia believes there is a lot of market to tap into. The digital advertising market is valued at around $ 380 billion a year, he points out, and he’s convinced BLKBOX’s pitch can help him gain a share of it. “Our overall goal is to make anyone, regardless of their background, a premier media buyer,” he says. “This will allow businesses to scale faster, focusing on making products and creating the experiences their customers want. “
The launch of the company comes at a potentially pivotal time for the digital advertising market, which also plays to the benefit of BLKBOX. The growing emphasis on data privacy will make it increasingly difficult for advertisers to persist with the approach they have used on digital platforms to date. Tech companies like Apple are moving away from a world where advertisers have access to data about individuals’ browsing habits and spending decisions, making it difficult to craft advertising strategies based on that information.
“The readily available nature of the data so far has held back innovation on the ad buying side,” says Zia. “But the future of digital advertising will lie in much bigger innovation.”
BLKBOX hopes its platform, running on a software-as-a-service model, will prove popular with businesses large and small looking for ways to move forward in this new world. The company emphasizes its success in hitting above its weight. In June, BLKBOX was announced as one of three winners of the Facebook Business Hackathon, a competition designed to identify technologies that could help businesses increase their growth. With applicants judged on four criteria – innovation, impact, social positivity and expedition – BLKBOX shared the applause with Microsoft and SAP.