Fast 10: Avid Collective’s Luke Spano On Building Deeper Relationships With Local Publishers & Advertisers

Fast 10: Avid Collective’s Luke Spano On Building Deeper Relationships With Local Publishers & Advertisers

In this latest instalment of the Fast 10 series, Greg ‘Sparrow’ Graham chats with Luke Spano, Managing Director at Avid Collective.

  1. You have an intriguing background as a professional poker player plus stints at JR Sports & NightGuru, how did that lead to native content?

My previous work in the two startups were focused on marketing and operations, so they gave me exposure to content as an advertising channel which definitely resonated for me as a great way to influence audiences.

They also gave me a great insight into the day-to-day nature of running a startup, which (somewhat) prepared me well for the Avid journey.

Poker at high levels is very strategic in nature so it taught me a lot of skills like how to analyse situations to plan for various potential outcomes, money and risk management, the importance of focus and patience, and of course the ability to ride waves of success and frustrations.

2. As a founder what inspired you to start Avid Collective?

Ultimately, the appeal of creating advertising that audiences would enjoy and could get value from while simultaneously providing value to the advertiser. I’ve always felt like there’s some sort of compromise in advertising, where it’s usually the audience having a disrupted experience, which didn’t feel optimal for either consumers or the brands trying to engage with them.

Avid Collective was originally launched as ‘Where To Media’, a digital publishing start-up that capitalised on the social video trend dominating the algorithm in 2017.

As we scaled the media business, we realised there was a larger opportunity in going down the Tech route to solve a key industry problem: that naive content was too inefficient to make it effective at scale, and here we are, focused on making it a much larger advertising category.

3. Is being an Aussie indie an advantage against the global players?

I’d say there aren’t really any ‘global players’ we see as competitors in this space – because no one has successfully aggregated the branded and native content channel yet or built purpose-built workflows.

Being a local player within the Australian market has advantages right now, in that it allows us to build deeper relationships with local publishers and advertisers, and help their experiences shape our product evolution.

It also helps us learn more about creating an ecosystem that suits all stakeholders within the market before trying to do this in larger markets overseas!

4. You work with 140+ publishers, how do you select your publishing partners?

We’ve tried to prioritise working with publishers who have highly engaged audiences, great content offerings, and we’ve also tried to build as much incremental reach as we can, ensuring we cover all types of audience profiles and passion points.

For many independent or niche publishers, being part of a network means they are exposed to budgets they otherwise wouldn’t be considered for. If we think a publisher will add value to our network and advertisers, we’ll always consider them.

5. Your business has shown incredible growth, how do you build on that brilliant momentum?

We keep evolving our platform and offering to make it facilitate better campaigns more seamlessly. Our goal is to deliver better and better results with less and less effort.

We’re also looking to expand the ways in which we facilitate native content campaigns and support more publishers in offering better campaigns to advertisers. We’ve got a white-label SaaS version of our platform nearly ready for release for publishers and agencies.

Additionally, we’re currently taking our first steps overseas, establishing operations in the UK over the next few months.

6. Any particular native campaigns you are most proud of?

The work we’ve done with Destination Gold Coast has always made me proud due to the visually stunning nature of it and how varied the content is across a range of different publishers. We’ve had 14 different publishers work on a range of different campaigns with them, truly showcasing the value of the offering (and, in this case, the destination!)

I also think the work we’ve done in the finance space continues to impress me; with brands like Westpac, Cashrewards, and a range of others, we’ve really had to focus on explaining the nuances of product offerings in a way that everyday audiences will lean into consuming. Seeing some of the really smart content that our partnerships have brought to life is very fulfilling!

7. How do you relax and chill outside of your day-to-day work life?

I’m very into mindfulness and stoicism as tools, and more so mindsets, to help move through the world and aid in responding to all situations, so I’m constantly doing things to support myself in that space or trying to deepen my understanding of those practices/approaches

Also, I spend my free time listening to podcasts that focus on the best in the world in different disciplines – I just love hearing insights, ideas and perspectives from the best in their crafts, such as Lex Fridman or Tim Ferris.

And sleep… I usually run low during the week, so leverage the weekend to play a lot of catch-up. Acknowledging to all the parents out there (I am not one) the ease with which I’m able to do this. My thoughts go out to all of you!

8. You have achieved great success at a relatively young age, what are your long-term ambitions?

 I appreciate that comment; thank you. My current goal over the next few years (and likely beyond) is to take Avid to a global scale, as I really believe we’re solving a massive problem in the advertising ecosystem that I’m excited to expand to many markets.

I also have this insane, bold ambition of helping 100 million people. I want to empower individuals to enhance their quality of life through a set of companies that each support different elements of one’s life. But to have any shot at this, I need a lot more skills, experience and resources. Hence, the value of building Avid to be a global company is the current focus!

9. Can you share with us something that’s not on your LinkedIn profile?

I think if we can improve the average individual’s empathy levels we’d go a long way in improving unity within the world.

10. Do your parents know what you actually do?

I think about two years ago, they understood what I did five years ago. And I think they are only now actually understanding what we’ve been doing in the last few years, now. They are very, very supportive nonetheless 🙂

They definitely know that we help create great content for lots of large brands around the country!

Check out the rest of the Fast 10 series here:

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