Hygh wants to compete with Ströer in outdoor screen advertising

Hygh wants to revolutionize outdoor advertising
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Screen instead of billboard

Advertising has changed, but despite the digitization, the big billboards still work great. The only problem: the price. But a start-up from Berlin is now trying to revolutionize outdoor advertising.

Normally, photos of a crossroads should not belong to the repertoire of classic holiday images. Nevertheless, Picadilly Circus or Times Square are now among the sights of London or New York in almost every travel guide. The reason for the oversized neon signs that illuminate the street there until late at night. Advertising as a tourist attraction.

Fritz Frey is convinced of the potential of outdoor advertising only because of such examples. Only the context conditions are no longer relevant to him. In 2017, the businessman wanted to place an outdoor advertisement for a project at the time at the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin. A budget of 50,000 euros was foreseen. But at this price you could not even make an appointment with the top providers, Frey recalls: “It was all completely rigid.” And so the local from Cologne thought: We can do better.

The three founders Vincent Müller, Antonius Link and Fritz Frey named their start-up Hygh, which they founded in 2018, with which they want to further digitize outdoor advertising. The three founders rely on screens they have set up in cities like Cologne or Berlin – and a digital platform through which outdoor advertising can be booked just as easily and locally as ads on search engine giant Google. In this way, outdoor advertising should become interesting and affordable even for small, local companies. And at the same time, Fritz Frey reveals, people are still thinking big: “From the screen in the shop window to the billboard in Times Square, all screens must be on our platform.”

However, the coronavirus pandemic initially prevented rapid growth. Shops suddenly closed, cities were deserted. Problem – and not just from the point of view of advertising customers. “If no one is out, outdoor advertising is difficult,” Frey openly admits.

Competitor Ströer, who is currently still seen as irresistible, also felt the effects of the pandemic last year. The Cologne-based company faced declining sales in the outdoor advertising sector last year. The temporary lockdown of public life, according to the annual report, has hit the department hard. From time to time there were practically no new bookings.

Ströer has also been using digital outdoor advertising for a long time and the business is set to expand further in the coming years. The poster is still important – but the competition is growing. Because at Hygh, the next step is already planned. Fritz Frey has ordered smaller screens, which will now be hung in stores at the checkout and play with advertising. “It should be typical at the kiosk or at Späti to have a screen hanging on the counter,” he says.

The company is currently focusing on Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne. There are now almost 450 Hygh screens in Berlin, 50 in Hamburg and 150 in Cologne. Customers advertising Hygh include companies such as Netflix streaming service, Fritz Kola beverage brand, and About You online fashion store. “Good locations are close to train docks, pedestrian zones and generally shops that people need to approach from the front,” says Frey. Stores get rented per screen, High revenue generated by advertising sales.

According to Frey, there was a very simple reason for the decision to start from the cathedral city after Berlin: he knows his way there. Because the 25-year-old grew up in Cologne. He met co-founder Antonius Link as a child when the two of them watched tennis together. And in Cologne, reveals Fritz Frey, he took his first steps as a businessman as a student. “I started my own energy drink when I was 13 and later I created a YouTube channel where we rated energy drinks,” says Frey. . »

Later, with his current associates, he also invested so successfully in cryptocurrencies as Bitcoin that they were able to lay the groundwork for the founding of Hygh. Even with the first round of funding, the classic venture capital route was not chosen, but money was raised through a crowdfunding campaign based on cryptocurrencies – a so-called initial coin offering. According to Frey, this raised ten million euros.

The start-up capital helped Corona during the difficult period. But now businesses are going up: “Right now we are experiencing the best month in the history of our company,” says Frey. However, the founder and CEO are already facing the next problem: “Right now we have more questions than offers and we need to make sure we set up screens even faster.”

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