David Jones Thinks Ad Holding Companies Are Hiding Behind Covid
February 17, 2021
David Jones, Founder and CEO of You & Mr Jones believes the traditional ad agency model is in serious trouble, as evidenced by the recent massive drops in valuation among the world’s largest ad agency holding giants – even if these companies are claiming publicly that their recent performance dips are a temporary result of the pandemic. Naturally, Jones sees his company’s ‘brand tech’ approach as offering a better model for marketers – and he’s raised $60 million in funding and landed at a $1.36 billion valuation to back up his bet.
Mike Shields (44s):
Hi, everyone. Welcome to Next in Marketing. My guest this week is David Jones, who’s the CEO and Founder of You & Mr Jones. Hey, David, how are you?
David Jones (51s):
I’m good. How are you?
Mike Shields (53s):
I’m alright. Thanks for joining us today.
David Jones (55s):
It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
Mike Shields (58s):
So, a bunch of questions. You guys have been in the news recently. I feel like I always says, I feel like if you follow the advertising marketing landscape, you probably know your company. But I’m gonna guess that some people have some, perhaps vague notions about what you are. Because I think you get thrown into the, “Oh, they’re like a newfangled holding company. They’re sort of like the next to VPP. But then they also invest in stuff, so maybe they’re like a VC.” And I know you guys call yourself a brand tech company. Explain the idea behind You & Mr Jones. What you are? What you’re trying to do?
David Jones (1m 30s):
Sure. So maybe and I can break it into two. I can sort of explain the problem we set out to solve, and I can explain how we’re setting out to solve that. So the basic problem we set out to solve is that the mobile phone came along. It disrupted marketing beyond belief. It created literally hundreds of new channels with all the format’s that go with them, that brands needed to create content for. It gave access to unprecedented levels of data. And it turned every single person on the planet into a content creator. And so if you were a Global CMO, you literally were sitting there, and you’d perfect it, you know, over the decades, the traditional
marketing playbook, and suddenly, you needed to perfect the technology marketing playbook.
David Jones (2m 13s):
And it was like, help. We need help. And what we what we were hearing from the Global CMOs was, you know, the problem is we go see the big agency groups. And whilst they get great at the brand and advertising piece, they don’t get tech, we go through the technology companies, and they will never objectively recommend someone else’s tech, what we really need is someone who is both expert, and brand, and tech. So, hence, we call ourselves the world’s first brand tech group. Probably the really different thing about what we set out to do, and the reason why we initially raised the 300 million was, you know, none of what I’ve just told you is that, “Oh my God, I would never have thought of that. What a brilliant original idea.” But I think, you know, people weren’t setting out to do it globally.
David Jones (2m 56s):
And so if you could just work on a few brands, and you know, the US, the UK, France, whatever, we believed you are as much part of the problem as you were part of the solution. So we set out to build a company that could be a global partner. So our goal is to be the global leader in what we call enterprise level tech marketing solutions or brandtech. And we will achieve that by being the best company in the world that using technology and AI to connect data, media, and content. And then to optimize that content to deliver a better ROI. And so what we do is we acquire promising companies in technologies, we integrate them into our platform, and then we kind of develop, scale, and grow them globally.
David Jones (3m 44s):
And then on the other side, we also make strategic minority investments into super interesting tech companies. And they both adds strategic and financial value to what we’re doing, sorry. And so, you know, we invested 20 million in Pinterest back in 2017. We were one of the very first external investors in Niantic, a year ahead of them launching Pokemon Go, when they spun out of Google. So we’ve done about 34 investments in 22 companies on the strategic minority side.
Mike Shields (4m 15s):
Okay, so if we take those two sides of your vision for the company apart a little bit. On the first one, you were talking about having a marketing services/technology company built for what marketers need, now with mobile phones and data. So does that mean if the Coke or Pepsi account comes up for review, and you know, group M is losing it or might keep it, are you in the mix for that? Are you completing for totally different sets of businesses?
David Jones (4m 41s):
No, I mean, where we fit in and what we specialize in sits between, you know, what an ad agency does on the one side and what the big group and media company does on the other side. So, you know, we will never buy traditional ad agencies, traditional media companies. We literally will only ever acquire or invest in
companies that are tech or tech enabled. And, you know, whilst we think that the big holding companies, you know, I would say that we think they have a limited future, which is why we launched our company 60 billion has come off the market cap in the last five years.
Mike Shields (5m 19s): Right.
David Jones (5m 19s):
That’s a lot that’s already happened. But, you know, we think the smaller creative agencies, you know, the widens the Johannes Leonardo’s have a huge future, because brilliant ideas are incredibly important. And you just don’t need 100,000 people around the world and one. But what we do is when you the creative agency has nailed the big idea, we will then literally put together all of the always on digital content, social content, e-commerce assets, community management influencer. So everything that lives on mobile, everything where you know, you literally need hundreds of thousands of pieces of content, not you know, 160 second TV commercial.
Mike Shields (6m 2s):
You might be building a product or helping build an app or things like that. They’re not just ads?
David Jones (6m 6s):
Yeah, But I mean, I think the reason we call the group of brandtech group, and you know, there’s a really interesting book called Storynomics, which talks about the post advertising world. But, you know, we believe, when we launched back in 2015, and we believe that advertising will be a less and less relevant way of connecting brands and people. And that’s why we call ourselves brandtech, not martech, or ad tech, and we’re seeing that already just the enormous explosion in the Netflix, Peacock, Disney plus, Apple plus, and you know, people who are circumnavigating avatar.
Mike Shields (6m 46s):
Or things that make it much harder to reach people.
David Jones (6m 48s): Exactly.
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