B&T’s 30 Under 30 Awards have tragically been and gone for another year. That being said, we’re always looking to spotlight young leaders, and Jeff Jaraved is a great example.
Jaraved won B&T’s 2021 30 Under 30 award for Strategy. He is the founder of CAASie.co, a website that businesses can use to self-serve their outdoor ads (on digital screens). It is free to use and is designed to replicate the Facebook and Google Ads buying experience so that marketers can use the same skillset to run outdoor campaigns.
Since there are no minimum spends, contracts, or commitments to any given publisher, advertisers can set up a single campaign across boards from multiple publishers without having to leave the interface.
Jaraved spoke to B&T about the future of CAASie.co, as well as the process of embracing a career he didn’t exactly plan for.
B&T: What inspired you to found CAASie.co?
JJ: I was working in an agency for a little while – I’m not sure if you noticed that on the logo it says ‘CAASie.co by Heurist’. That was our agency before this. I think at some point, during that agency journey, we had a client that wanted to run a billboard, out-of-home campaign. When I say out-of-home campaign, they wanted one billboard for a very short duration of time, they were promoting educational products, they just wanted to advertise outside of a school. They asked us if we could do that, and I said, “I suppose we could”, obviously answering before we ever figured out how to do it. But that led us down this rabbit hole, because we were like, okay, how do we actually buy a billboard? How do we do that?
We talked to the media owners at the time and they said “look, no, you need to buy it for at least one month”. Once we got the prices back, it was around that $10,000 mark. It was just way outside the budget of this particular client, and we have no choice but to say “look, we can’t do it”. There was a whole process of looking it up. I remember the day, I was Googling: how to buy a billboard, can you buy a billboard online, all those variations of terms and all that and going, “there’s got to be a way to do this”.
I thought I looked quite well – I mean, my Googling skills are on point! So we just thought, you know what, let’s just build it. Make Google AdWords for billboards or Facebook ads, something that will allow agencies like us, or just small businesses to just do it themselves. And that’s pretty much the inspiration. That’s how we kind of got here.
Do you have any career highlights that you’re particularly proud of?
This is probably [the thing I’m most proud of]: having founded the business. But alongside that, I think – I wasn’t proud at the time, but I’m an aerospace engineer by background. That was what I spent my entire life wanting to do. So for as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a rocket scientist. I pretty much went to high school, and then went to uni with that one goal in my mind.
When I finished uni with my degree, I went on to do a study a PhD in the aerospace industry and I quickly discovered that it wasn’t for me. At the time, it kind of felt quite bad, because I felt like I had wasted my life up until that point. Then I chose to go into a completely separate field to what I was trained in, I guess you can probably imagine, I wasn’t quite stoked about that.
So, in a way, I could say I’m proud of the fact that I got over that. I got over that feeling of unachievement, I guess. [There’s an] imposter syndrome being in the media space. I’m not from a big agency or anything like that, I’m a complete outsider. And having gotten over that psychologically, I think, was probably my favorite highlight of my career.
What was your biggest achievement over the last 12 months?
I have to say, the 30 Under 30 award! I think there a few things, like recently as a business, we partnered with Broadsign. That was one of the major news stories that came out of us, and we were really proud of that, really glad that Broadsign took a chance on a kind of nobody start-up.
Like, I was quite proud of being able to have those conversations, while basically knowing absolutely nothing of what I was talking about, just winging it the entire way.
Then, we’ve now partnered with Moving Walls, which we’re really excited about it, and will help us open up advertising avenues in South-East Asia.
There’s just been so many small steps that we’ve taken throughout that entire, that entire journey of getting certain clients over the line. We actually had one client that ran an out-of-home campaign, which actually outperformed their own Facebook campaign. That was incredible for us to hear – the idea that they got a higher return on investment through out-of-home, which is something that was practically unheard of.
So we’ve done a lot of those first little [achievements]. It’s hard to point out and one big one, because I’m quite equally proud of them all.
Where do you see the industry going throughout the rest of this year, and into 2022?
Well, it’s a tricky one, because there are so many different directions in which the industry is going and everyone has their own ideas, and I have my own ideas too.
So in my view, I think with CAASie.co, we’re trying to get more accessibility to the independent agencies and the small businesses to self serve the ads onto billboards the same way they do on Facebook and Google. We see that growing, we’ve got Broadsign bringing a similar sort of platform like CAASie.co into Australia over the next month, so that should expand that region and that area of the industry. We’re also going to be making quite a lot of inroads into doing more cool stuff with the billboards.
Like right now, through CAASie.co, you could, upload your creative and say, “hey, I want my creative to play during these hours alone”, or something like that. But you can’t do things like say when it’s raining, I want it to play this creative, and maybe when there’s heavy traffic, I want to play that creative. That’s something that’s a major focus for us over the next couple of months, to try and provide dynamic creatives. We’re also looking at things like mobile billboards – there’s a lot of mobile taxi top advertising – and a few other of those moving formats that we want to get on our platform as well.
One of the cool things we want to do is with taxis and say, when they’re down one street, I want to play one ad, and when I’m on a different street, I want to play a different ad. A lot of that’s coming along from our platform. I guess the thing that’s kind of exciting for me, more than anything, is to try and see how we can make that available in a way that is actually affordable for small businesses, beyond you know, just having to sign up for really enterprise-level software. We built a brand around being that free-to-use, entry-level DSP where people can come in and self-serve, so we’d really love to keep that one up.
If you could give your past self one piece of advice, what would it be?
I think it’s the same advice I’m going to give my current self, because I don’t tend to be good at following my own advice. It’s chill the hell out! Because, you know, everything has a way of working itself out eventually.
If I go back to my teenage self, and maybe early 20s, I’d say that a lot of the stuff that you’re worried about now won’t matter in the future anyway, so may as well just try and enjoy your time rather than worrying, particularly about stuff that I can’t change.
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