Flytedesk looks to modernize buying ads in college newspapers
As a media buyer at Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Boulder, Colorado in 2012, Alex Kronman was tasked with helping brands like Domino’s Pizza reach young people, particularly college students. As a recent college grad, Kronman thought of a neglected avenue: college newspapers. There were more than 20 million college students in the U.S. who grabbed physical papers, read campus news online, listened to college radio stations and looked at posters in dorms. Easier said than done to place the ads, though, as the college newspaper and radio business is a decidedly low-tech affair of door-to-door sales to local pizza joints and bars.
Kronman, a former editor-in-chief at Colorado College’s The Catalyst, decided to leave the agency world to start Flytedesk, formerly called College Press Club. The name breaks down to “flyte” — a flight of media — and “desk” — a trading desk and the newsroom. The simple idea: make ad buying easier within college publications.
“I heard brands say, ‘Hey, we can’t reach college kids.’ Colleges themselves have a lot of audience churn, but it’s always the audience you want,” Kronman said.
Kronman’s platform initially let advertisers buy ads in college-based print publications. It has since expanded to digital editions, radio and outdoor ads on campuses. The tool allows buyers and sellers to view and act on available inventory. After purchasing, buyers can process payments and verify the ads following publication.
For pricing to buyers and sellers, Flytedesk takes a cut of each campaign. Kronman said it varies depending on the scale.
Five years after launch, Flytedesk now has 20 employees and works with 2,300 student media organizations, including The Stanford Daily, Penn State’s Daily Collegian and Iowa State Daily. The company, still based in Boulder, is backed by $4.5 million in venture capital funding. His group of investors includes his old boss, Chuck Porter of CP+B.
“He always had the most high-fashioned glasses in the place. I thought, ‘Wow, this guy is a techie, but he’s got a great eye,’” Porter said.
Now, as an investor in Flytedesk, Porter meets with Kronman about once a month for a beer at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder. He said he believes in the startup’s mission to serve the college market, as someone who still hears his clients crave the attention of younger generations, and that he sees the startup’s value even among the world’s gigantic media buying services.
“Clients spend a lot of time and money trying to figure out where are the fish. Even if a brand or a marketer knows [of college media], it’s really hard to buy. If I’m a marketer and I want to buy all the colleges in the Northeast, I have to talk to 100 different people. What Alex did is make it one,” Porter said.
Of course, Flytedesk has competition to solve the same problem. Refuel Agency, based in New York, works with more than 3,400 student media organizations, according to its website. Campus Media Group also helps agencies and brands with college marketing. MediaMate manages advertising for Tufts University and University of Connecticut, for example.
On the advertiser side, one of Flytedesk’s first clients was Trojan. The condom brand still uses the platform. Other popular verticals on Flytedesk are consumer packaged goods companies and financial services companies, Kronman said. About 30 percent of ads in the last year have come from political clients like campaigns, PACs and other advocacy groups.
“Anyone who thinks more about the lifetime value of a customer,” Kronman said. “My dream is to get AARP to be a client and show there’s no one that doesn’t need college kids.”
Porter said that Flytedesk probably doesn’t need to serve denture adhesives or stairlifts but that the majority of brands would find success buying ads for college campuses.
“Conventional wisdom is there’s less brand loyalty than there used to be, but I think that people do form habits. College is one of the biggest changes in people’s lives. While you’re in college, that’s when you become you. So for a brand to engage them, that matters,” Porter said.
Member ExclusiveBeauty & Wellness Briefing: Inside Beauty Brand Ulta’s first-ever Diversity Week
The five days of programming for all of its 8,800-plus corporate, store and distribution center employees included group training "chat-ins" and distributed resources.
Member ExclusiveMarketing Briefing: How marketers and agency execs are approaching vaccine awareness campaigns
Marketers and agency execs are taking more care with the language and strategy of campaigns due to the politicization of the vaccine.
‘Dispensaries knew they had to change’: How the cannabis industry adapted in the pandemic
Pandemic stress and new legalization led to a lift in cannabis use last year and businesses have pivoted to adapt to those trends with new marketing.
SponsoredWhat sustainable app monetization looks like in 2021
Apple’s iOS 14 changes are driving significant shifts in the app ecosystem. For gaming businesses, these new changes will make it challenging to show targeted ads. That said, the mobile game economy continues to boom, and analysts predict long-term growth; global in-app ad revenue in 2021 will rise by 6.2% for non-gaming apps, and 19.1% […]
‘The sky is very blue:’ Why U.S. beauty brands see global opportunity, along with challenges, for CBD products
Despite regulatory challenges, brands in the CBD beauty market are forging ahead as demand for the products remains promising.
Brands rethink their in-housing plans after tactic was ‘put on ice’ amid pandemic
Brands had begun in-housing efforts before the pandemic put those plans on ice. The strategy shift has worked in agencies favor, as brands are returning to their shops to guide marketing efforts.