Over the Christmas break, IIBN caught up with Fergal O’Connor CEO of Buymedia. Based in Galway, Buymedia helps businesses compete with bigger brand advertisers and get a better return on future advertising by making small improvements to their advertising planning, purchasing, management and learning.
You can visit the Buymedia website here
What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
My main priorities are to ensure our advertisers grow their businesses, that we provide a superior level of service and experience than they get from their current media buying process, that we take the stress and hassle away from their current media planning and buying process, that they are guided by data not instinct when it comes to advertising.
In my role as CEO I also have to prioritise our team, our product and our revenue to ensure we can deliver our business priorities for our advertisers as outlined above.
What are your biggest challenges?
Creating awareness and overcoming skepticism is a huge part of our challenge at Buymedia. We deliver data, insights, experience, streamlined processes, reduced cost of advertising and increased advertising ROI to advertisers nationally and internationally and yet not a lot of people have heard about us our success stories.
Once people see what we can do they become instant converts but we know we can help more businesses. It’s frustrating sometimes that not every business is using Buymedia for their advertising. Our challenge is to communicate how we can benefit businesses, more effectively.
How has your business strategy been adapted in the context of the Covid-19 crisis?
Our platform is cloud based and most of our interactions with advertisers or media companies was online first anyway. However, most of our initial contact with new clients was face to face in meetings.
Once we all got over the initial shock of lockdowns and knew our team was safe and were happy to continue operating remotely we moved all meetings online.
We also focused more on advertisers that could continue to operate and had a need to advertise their business regardless of lockdowns.
The lack of face to face interactions is challenging, particularly for the team, but we are part of a ‘digitisation of business’ movement which is helping business to automate manual processes, make business more effective and efficient and remove the need for so many face to face meetings. So for us as a business the more the future moves towards digital processes and automation the better for Buymedia.
Tell us something interesting about the business.
Although Buymedia is a digital online product that helps streamline the advertising process the founders have no technical background. We have all worked in media, advertising and marketing – we saw problems that a lot of advertisers were suffering from and we set about solving those problems for the benefit of SMEs. In the course of solving these problems we realised we needed a technology to help our advertisers do their advertising more effectively.
So, the technology developed from a problem we saw businesses suffering from rather than building a technology and then finding a problem that it solved.
Tell us the about the biggest risk you have taken in business.
I left a very well paid role in media to try to right a wrong that I saw in the advertising market that placed SMEs at a disadvantage when advertising compared to bigger brand advertisers.
I took on this challenge with zero certainty of the outcome, zero certainty of any success – putting my livelihood and my family’s on the line.
We’ve pushed this large rock up a hill for 3 years and as it looked like we were about to make some serious traction internationally we were hit with a pandemic.
I don’t know if we can fix the problem for every business across the globe, but I know we’ve helped a lot of businesses and charities so far. This gives us the encouragement to keep pushing on and I know that the risk myself, my family, our team, our investors and supporters have taken will be rewarded.
Tell us about the worst day you’ve had since you started in business.
In startup land there is a section of the journey called ‘the valley of despair’. It’s rarely a day and can drag on for weeks and months. So, entrepreneurs are well used to worst days, weeks and months in the valley – it makes the successes all the sweeter.
On the Buymedia journey there were a couple of weeks where we were raising funds and it looked like we wouldn’t get the investment over the line after months of work on both sides. For those two weeks I spent most of my time in the ‘valley’. Thankfully we managed to work everything out and I jettisoned out of the valley pretty quickly.
Optimism and resilience are hugely important when starting or running a business so you have to take the bad days as part of the learning along the journey. One bad result doesn’t make a bad season, so you have to put the bad days in context of the overall mission.
How can IIBN members help your business?
- Business introductions – Buymedia offers a way for businesses to improve the return they get on their advertising so if any members want to help their own or any other business then an introduction would be most welcome. Where we are most effective is with businesses who are spending in excess of 100k per annum across a number of media channels. The reason we are most effective with these businesses is that there is usually a lot of manual logistical work that needs to be done, not a lot of time/resources for proper planning and a budget that we can usually negotiate a better rate on. So we save lots of time and money for the business.
- Media company introductions – when businesses are purchasing advertising we have developed the world’s first advertising marketplace. So if you are involved with a media company or know anyone involved in a media company who are looking for more revenue through advertising then we can help connect them with advertisers.
- Charity introductions – part of our mission is to help create better societies where businesses, media and charities are connected for the benefit of all sides. We are donating a percentage of our media fees to charities and local initiatives that are selected by the businesses themselves – national/regional charities will benefit directly with funds generated by businesses advertising. So if you are involved in a charity that needs to raise funds please introduce them and we can add them to our list of beneficiaries.
How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?
Buymedia is cloud a based and borderless platform. Our focus from the start was always international. Our products are transported digitally so thankfully we don’t have any transportation or customs challenges. However, we need to be constantly cognisant of VAT and currency fluctuations that could have a significant impact on our businesses bottom line.
How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
Success on a professional level is having happy customers, team and investors. If you can have all three then everything else falls into place.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
Revenue solves most problems.
What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
In the depths of despair, when 80% of our businesses stopped advertising we discovered that we had a product that could solve problems for bigger businesses (which we hadn’t previously focused on) and that our solution was applicable across various verticals (which we were forced to focus on because of the pandemic). Because of these two discoveries we got to work with businesses that were not on our immediate radar but were much better businesses for us to work with. This opened up much more interesting opportunities for us for the future.
What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2021/22?
- Businesses are being forced to look at efficiencies in all aspects of business.
- Marketing budgets need to work more effectively than ever.
- Resources of time are under more pressure.
- Businesses are looking for digital options that can help streamline manual processes.
- Planning advertising effectively is a necessity not just an option.
- Businesses are looking to international markets for growth outside of their own contracted domestic economy.
- Businesses want to support charities and initiatives as part of CSR.
All of the above challenges for businesses brings huge opportunity for growth for Buymedia. Buymedia brings efficiencies and effectiveness to the advertising planning and purchasing process by allowing marketing managers and business owners access an advertising platform that improves advertising effectiveness across all media. The need for more targeted advertising and the ability to do their advertising faster creates the opportunity for Buymedia to solve these challenges for SMEs. By creating an international advertising marketplace that gives back to local and national charities Buymedia can be a conduit between businesses, media and charities.