By Catherine Lyons
A few months ago, the future of the New Orleans Hornets was in jeopardy. People weren’t showing up for games, and there was talk the NBA team could leave the city if attendance didn’t improve. In response, the “I’m In!” campaign was launched, and cars around the city were outfitted with the Hornets logo and the campaign’s catchphrase.
AdverCar.com was behind it. A New Orleans-based company, AdverCar.com pays drivers to put advertisements on the front, back and sides of their personal cars, allowing advertisers to get their message into what has become a “media-free bubble,” says co-founder Neil Turner.
“With the influx of satellite radio, iPods and the restrictions on billboards, the commute and drive time has become a media-free zone,” Turner says. “AdverCar can get advertisements further into people’s lives than any other medium, and it’s cheap.”
Turner explains that their clientele is two-fold: companies who want to better infiltrate their message and commuters who are trying to make a few extra dollars.
Commuters who are interested in selling space on their car for local advertisements must meet a few requirements (their car is in good condition, clean driving record, etc.) can sign up on AdverCar.com’s site, where they then describe their daily commute.
“We track the cars via GPS. We verify the routes the drivers are going on, calculate impressions the vehicles get, target zip codes and radius around a store, and know the traffic patterns of our customers,” Turner says. “Knowing our drivers’ commute is critical because we can match our advertisers with our drivers.”
The idea for the company began when Turner and his colleague Alex Goss, a New Orleans native, were driving to a business meeting and realizing that there are millions of commuting drivers each day. They wondered if there was a way to track vehicles at a cost effective price, and make use of the longer drive times that many Americans face.
After developing the software to pay drivers, and track their routes and who they reach, AdverCar.com was born.
“Right now, we have about 1,800 drivers across the country,” Turner says. “We are looking to close out our second round of financing in the New Orleans area, and we’re optimistic that once we close the second round, we will get to 8,000 cars in 20 or so cities nationwide in any given month.”
Turner decided to base the company in New Orleans because the “standard of living for the cost is so amazing.” He first got a taste of the benefits of working in New Orleans as the Chief Strategy Officer of iSeatz, an IP resident and NOLA-based startup.
“After a hard day’s work, walking outside to the architecture and palm trees is a lot better than facing subways and snow piles,” he adds.
This summer, Turner has brought on a team of interns, including Tulane MBA student Sharmila Chardavoyne, who will help expand the business.
Turner also mentioned the improving climate for startups in New Orleans as a key factor in his decision to found AdverCar.com here.
“Resources like the New Orleans Startup Fund, GNO, Inc. and the South Coast Angels Fund all provide things for startups here that did not exist when I was down here five years ago,” he says. “The only way to raise money back then was just to find a local business owner and educate them about startups. There are so many more resources now, and people are willing to listen to pitches from young entrepreneurs. That’s been very impressive.”
As for upcoming projects for AdverCar.com in New Orleans, look out for cars splashed with logos of a local university’s basketball team in the coming months…