UZE Mobility: AI-controlled geo-targeting marketplace for mobile outdoor advertising
Why don’t you introduce yourself and the start-up company UZE Mobility to our readers?
We offer advertisers location-, situation- and weather-dependent mobile outdoor advertising in real time. This is possible thanks to intelligent advertising displays (UZE Ads Kits) on vehicles. Sensors in the UZE Ads Kits detect the current weather conditions or current events in the vicinity while the vehicles are in motion. To bundle and orchestrate all this data, we are setting up an AI-controlled geo-targeting marketplace for mobile outdoor advertising.
In the meantime, well-known advertising clients such as McDonlads, DEKRA, Caritas, Sparkasse, Thyssenkrupp, Hövding and TF Bank have chosen UZE Mobility.
If the sun suddenly shines in Cologne, ice cream commercials in Kölsch are broadcast. If it rains on the way to Düsseldorf, advertising for umbrellas is shown. Additionally, important regional information for the local people (missing persons searches, storm reports or similar) can be broadcast within seconds.
Via WiFi and Bluetooth, we then record how many mobile phones are in sight in a person-neutral way in order to measure real accessibility.
One of our important growth strategies is worldwide networking with the most diverse databases, start-ups and advertising formats in order to offer big players an alternative scaling method as an agile and silo-free eco-system for outdoor advertising. From Germany via the USA to the East.
In addition, the advertising revenue should help fleet operators to convert their vehicles to clean engines.
Why did you decide to set up a company?
Because once again I have reached the point of tackling and implementing this topic with a strong innovative team, which has come together from many different competences. This enables me to act free of existing structures and processes and to implement our business model with the necessary speed. This is the basic prerequisite for building our digital business cases into strong pillars to make the world’s mobility more sustainable. For example, by helping fleets to convert their vehicles to clean engines through advertising revenue. This will only succeed if we as gamechangers take digital outdoor advertising to a completely new level. Besides, I personally just had the urge to rock the boat again.
What is the vision behind UZE Mobility?
We want to make cities more sustainable and liveable: Our eco-system uses urban (mobility) data as fuel to make the lives of the inhabitants healthier and more comfortable – from mobility to self-sufficient energy supply.
We therefore take a multidimensional view of the data generated in the cities and vehicles in one way or another. In this way, we are able to develop further data-driven business models in addition to the mobile digital-out-of-home sector, such as in the field of urban trade and city logistics. To this end, we are teaming up with various market players and start-ups that both complement and fuel each other. In this way, we want to become an important pillar for subsidising zero-emission mobility of the future through advertising revenue.
In the end, there are already many brilliant ideas for driving our planet forward with zero emissions. However, new technologies are also associated with high entry costs, which slow down their market introduction and scaling. But climate change is not waiting for that. So we all need to move fast if we want to make the world a zero-emissions place. That is why I am currently working on creating new business cases that, for example, will quickly reduce the costs of the mobility turnaround for companies.
From the idea to the launch, what have been the biggest challenges so far and how have you financed yourself?
At the end of 2019, we implemented a change in strategy together with our investors, as the expansion of our own fleet would have slowed us down too much. Add to this the fact that a large number of fleets and new sharing solutions already exist. Furthermore, data-driven business models such as ours can be ideally scaled internationally. In view of international growth, we have developed our UZE Ads Kits in modular form so that they can be attached to almost any vehicle in the world.
In our first UZE CASE (the digital business cases from UZE Mobility), we concentrated on the advertising business with our programmatic geo-targeting marketplace. This has convinced our strategic investors, who see added value for their respective core businesses. In addition, the strategic investors make us particularly agile, as we can count on the expertise of our core team as well as their many years of experience in our focus topics. The bottom line is that we were able to raise €7.2 million from our investors for our Phase 1 seed round.
Today, the joint change in strategy is proving to be spot on. UZE Mobility’s advertising customers can now advertise on a total of over 1,000 digital advertising displays in four large rooms: Berlin, Essen, Hamburg, Stuttgart (as of 24.09.2020).
In the meantime, UZE Mobility is also being supported by the Bremer Aufbau-Bank and has its first well-known clients such as McDonlads, DEKRA, Caritas, Sparkasse, Thyssenkrupp, Hövding and TF Bank.
Who is the target group of UZE Mobility?
Several market participants benefit from our geo-targeting marketplace simultaneously. There are fleet operators who can earn money with their unused vehicle space through the digital UZE Ads Kits. There is the billion-dollar market of barely digitalised (mobile) outdoor advertising. And there are large and small advertisers who now reach their target groups with pinpoint accuracy and in real time. Ultimately, we are making urban life more liveable and the economy in cities more sustainable, whether in Berlin, Los Angeles or Dubai.
How does UZE Mobility work? What are the advantages? What makes you different from other providers?
UZE uses person-neutral (environment) data from vehicles to expand its AI-controlled geo-targeting marketplace. This data – which remains largely unused outside of mobility apps or autonomous driving – controls the mobile advertising displays in real time. For this purpose, sensors in the mobile advertising displays continuously record situational geo-targeting criteria (e.g. weather, traffic situation, location, time).
In combination with the socio-demographic information on the resident structure and the infrastructure around the vehicles, location- and weather-dependent mobile advertising is possible in real time. We do not have to access the personal data in the surrounding area (e.g. smartphones).
In addition, UZE Mobility bundles and orchestrates all display types of digital outdoor advertising for its constantly growing network on its geo-targeting marketplace. This allows advertisers to consistently run completely new types of digital out-of-home campaigns across all digital out-of-home formats without media disruption. Whether that is the big global brand or the shoemaker around the corner. For us there is no local point of interest where we set up rigid billboards. Rather, we regard the entire urban eco-system and its outdoor advertising possibilities as a living point of interest. This enables us to place marketing messages where our large and small advertising customers want them to be.
Another important component is our programmatic advertising. This means that advertisers purchase the required advertising spaces fully automatically and in real time according to the auction principle, using pre-defined characteristics and prices. In this way, we connect the analogue offline world of advertising with the digital online world and can reproduce advertising messages at any desired location without media breaks.
How has your company changed with Corona?
As an interface between the online and offline world, we naturally also had to make some adjustments. We could see that we had already selected the right docking points. Moreover, this crisis has forced our stakeholders to be more open to digitisation. As a company we have become even faster as we have already worked very agilely with our home office concept in four different countries. This has also helped us to implement many issues earlier than planned. Since we are not working in a bubble, we are of course paying close attention to how the corona phase changes or will change our customer world.
How have you adjusted to this and what changes have you made?
We have expanded our very flexible and efficient home office concept with appropriate collaboration tools. In addition, we have postponed our US start by a few months to October 2020. We may be a digital company but in the end it is all about people who we want and need to take with us on our travels. For the first time in my career, I evaluated important functions in a company completely digitally and hired employees accordingly.
Where do you see the opportunity in the crisis?
Ultimately, we are noticing that investors, but also politicians, have become more open to data-driven business models. The crisis makes us all more thoughtful, as we see how vulnerable our economy is to unforeseeable disruptive factors. At the same time, many are also becoming aware of how valuable digitisation is for us. For example, many consumers, companies and educational institutions are increasingly using video conferencing in their everyday lives. Collaboration tools for remote collaboration are much better understood and used. And companies that digitise their processes recognise risks but also opportunities earlier in order to react more agilely to market changes or customer requirements.
UZE Mobility, where is the road ahead? Where do you see yourself in five years?
Our clear goal is that, together with our many innovation partners, we will have established ourselves as the geo-targeting marketplace and eco-system of digital outdoor advertising within five years and grow continuously. This year we will still reach most of the conurbations in Germany. And we will jump across the big pond this year, where our US satellite team is already working on preparations. Then we will continuously roll out in Europe and the United States. Driven by our technological innovation as well as our strategic partners such as MIT in Boston or PEM at RWTH Aachen University, new digital use cases are constantly being integrated into the modular systems.
In five years’ time, we want to use the income from advertising and other UZE Cases to prove that our eco-system is an important pillar of the world of tomorrow. For example, by offering higher incentives to fleet partners who convert their vehicles to zero-emissions drive systems in order to make cities and conurbations around the world greener and more livable.
At the end: Which 3 tips would you give to prospective founders?
Silo thinking excludes the future. I believe silo-free thinking is crucial for success in order to quickly open up markets with many other allies.
Build a strong team, which you will weld together behind you with a view to the company vision.
Look at your business model from many different perspectives and always with a healthy critical mindset to open up new markets that nobody had thought of before.
Remember: You are not here for the sprint, but for the marathon!
BU: CEO UZE Mobility, Dr. Dr.-Ing. Alexander N. Jablovski, Photo: Birgit Wingrat
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Thank you Alexander N. Jablovski for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.