Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A lesson taught to me by my grandmother was no matter what, don’t be afraid to ask for help — it doesn’t make you weak.
I had the pleasure to interview Josh Segal. Josh is the founder and CEO of AdLoop, an ad-tech platform allows brands to wield the power of programmatic digital advertising through the same technology employed by Fortune 500 companies. Using location behavior to create, target, and analyze audiences and provide deep customer insights.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I started my advertising career working with various out of home media providers looking to break into the Quebec market with agencies and clients directly. After a few years of working in this type of environment, I came to the conclusion the current media buying model is broken and stuck in the past. My frustrations gave birth to my company, AdLoop, whose initial inception was to be an online media buying marketplace that allowed clients to directly access OOH, Print, TV and digital media directly. We began with our programmatic platform, built to add a more sophisticated level of transparency and create a cost effective solution for SMBs looking to compete and access the same publishers as national advertisers. Since then, we have been developing the AdLoop brand to what it is today through listening to our clients’ needs.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
With our focus now shifted to the emerging cannabis market, in both Canada and the U.S., we’ve become the first mainstream ad platform to start accepting these advertisers. I can honestly say all our current campaigns are interesting. Providing advertising to an industry that otherwise didn’t have any solutions prior has allowed us to work with a variety of big and small brands, helping them to build from the ground up. It has also allowed us to learn all the different kinds of benefits that cannabis can provide, and has exposed us to a variety of products and services that have been eye opening and exciting — I’m constantly learning, keeping AdLoop from being stagnant.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have to say my partner, Geoff, has been phenomenal and instrumental in allowing myself and AdLoop the opportunity to find our footing and grow. Geoff and his team were initially underway with development of the platform when I stepped in, our partnership was definitely tested in the early days through the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur and starting a new business. He showed me great patience and never doubted that AdLoop would come out the other side stronger.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about ad-tech in the cannabis space? Why?
What excites me about ad-tech and our capabilities, especially is the cannabis space, is:
1. Ad-tech in cannabis is still in the infancy stage — data is hard to come by. Our platform and tools allow us to build audiences and data on a specific cannabis consumer and map their journey.
2. Using target-ability in cannabis the cannabis space allows ad-tech companies to reach and target a cannabis consumer, without reaching an inappropriate audience.
3. Device ID tracking, a new technology which has played a key role in defining who a cannabis user is and how to best engage with them.
4. The opportunity. With Facebook and Google currently prohibiting cannabis, it has allowed smaller ad-tech companies, like AdLoop, to show that there are viable and profitable alternatives to Google and Facebook.
5. For our cannabis retail clients, our metrics are going even deeper. Now, we can access how long an ad campaign took to achieve a Verified Walk-In and how much it cost. These metrics are invaluable, allowing a business owner to determine — with certainty — what’s really working.
What are the 5 things that worry you about in the ad-tech in cannabis space? Why?
What worries me about ad-tech in the cannabis space, is:
1. Lack of due diligence from other platforms trying to jump into the space. There are many compliance and regulation issues, both in Canada and the United States that we abide by and are necessary to comply with for longevity in working with a cannabis company.
2. The instability of the ever-evolving regulations and compliance issues. With the Cole Memorandum recently rescinded and Jeff Sessions resigning, the cannabis space is regulated by state and federal level differently, something that can be difficult to keep up with.
3. Misuse of ad-tech to target minors. The JUUL has spread virally amongst minors due to cunning advertising campaigns but an underage audience has been most receptive to it, in turn getting the company in trouble and the FDA involved. I would hope ad-tech platforms abide by the 21+ rule.
4. Inappropriate creatives. The tobacco industry went through a phase of using cartoons in their marketing to try to appeal to a younger demographic. I don’t believe cannabis ad platforms and campaigns should do the same.
5. The Green Rush. Many marketers and ad-tech players see a financial opportunity in being a part of the cannabis space, understandably. Yet companies and brands must do their research before choosing which platform to use. It only takes one mishap to give the ad-tech and cannabis industries a bad reputation.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
My success in advertising has allowed me to contribute my time and resources in helping my wife’s passion of funding anti-bullying programs. She started a business, Gratitude Couture, which used fashion headwear along with positive affirmations to promote kindness and gratitude.
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
a. Trust your gut. Don’t let yourself be swayed into making the wrong decision. Trusting my gut whether right or wrong has always lead be down the right path.
b. Perseverance. Never giving up as an entrepreneur is essential. There are hard knocks along the way that require thick skin and believing in your business while working hard.
c. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. A lesson taught to me by my grandmother was no matter what, don’t be afraid to ask for help — it doesn’t make you weak.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Snoop Dogg, obviously I’m a big fan of his music career but also inspired by his business acumen, especially his involvement within the cannabis space both at brand level and owning his own VC firm, Casa Verde Capital, solely dedicated to the growth of cannabis companies.