From our founding in 2012, the Vistar vision has been to bring the benefits of data & software to the out-of-home industry, and to help advertisers further invest in and gain value from this impactful advertising channel.
Today I am thrilled to announce our next step toward scaling that vision: our $30 million Series B funding round with Lamar Advertising Company. This investment provides Vistar the means to accelerate our global growth, heavily invest in research and development to drive product innovation, and strengthen our company balance sheet.
It’s been a tumultuous 18 months in the OOH industry, and was no exception for Vistar. We wrapped up 2019 with more than $100M in billings through our platform (making us the largest programmatic marketplace in the world) and the growth at the start of 2020 was promising. Our entire industry felt the financial impact of the pandemic, and so for Q2 and Q3 we stayed focused on helping advertisers make smart campaign decisions where conditions made sense and on helping our media owner partners weather the storm. As we began to see the light of recovery going into Q4, we started to consider what 2021 and 2022 would hold for us - would these be years of just maintaining continuity or could we kick back into growth mode?
Personally, I’m not someone that does stasis all that well. Building companies and products and taking on new challenges is what motivates me, and I see that same drive to build in all of my colleagues at Vistar. With our platform’s spend surpassing pre-pandemic levels, the time felt right to accelerate again.
I couldn’t be more pleased that the fuel for this next phase at Vistar comes from an investment by one of the most respected and successful companies in the out-of-home industry. Lamar believes that technology will be the driving factor behind an accelerated growth rate for OOH, and over the course of our eight-plus year partnership together we’ve worked hard to prove that Vistar’s product vision and commitment to clients are squarely geared toward that same goal of full industry growth.
The official funding announcement can be viewed here for more information, but I wanted to share a few comments on what this investment will mean for Vistar’s road ahead.
Sustainable global partnerships:
Launching new markets takes serious investment. You can’t just put out a press release and add a new country to your website; you need to build partnerships and prove you can provide true value to the market over time. We’ve shown our capacity to do this with expansions in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K., and now will have the resources to speed up this process in a responsible and sustainable manner. We are dedicated to providing customers with a seamless experience working with Vistar across the world and will be able invest in each market at full capacity.
Sometimes I am amazed at the scope of what our team is tasked with - we power an entire ecosystem and are the leading software company across every piece of the tech stack for OOH (DSP, SSP, DMP, ad server, signage software). That isn’t easy!
We want to not only maintain top quality and grow with our customers, but also to continue doing what we are best known for - leading the space in innovation. To do that, we’ll be further investing in engineering, product and research resources. A few areas I’m excited about where you can expect to see development from us have to do with creatives in OOH, the growth of digital signage in retail, and new signage infrastructure supporting the cities of the future.
Operationally, this investment won’t change Vistar’s independent position in the industry. We will be supporting all media owners in the same way globally and will continue to grow our non ad-based signage software business. As we explored growth equity partners, it was motivating and humbling to see one of our existing customers come to the table and want to invest in the future of digital signage technology at this level. The industry’s accelerated alignment with technology partners will only drive more rapid innovation and grow the size of the OOH industry globally. This is truly a transformative investment in our space and will reset the pace of our industry’s growth.
Belief in the full stack:
Because powering an entire software ecosystem for OOH is rare, many customers and partners ask us if we will deprecate or get rid of parts of our business over time. The simple answer is NO!
We will continue to operate and grow existing and new lines of business with both buyers and sellers based on the needs of these customers. The marketplace is still so young and we’ve had so much success finding unique ways to drive value. We are committed to providing the most sophisticated planning experience for DOOH through the Vistar DSP, while continuing to develop partnerships and support omnichannel DSPs as they build out their DOOH offerings and further integrate the channel into omnichannel strategies. On the media owner side, from helping enterprise networks achieve true yield management to enabling retail media owners grow from early stage businesses to fully functioning companies scaling during the pandemic, there are a variety of needs and our varied business lines reflect that.
There is so much opportunity for OOH as a channel to provide value to marketers trying to reach an audience and media owners who have a valuable audience to monetize. This end-to-end seamless workflow that Vistar has built the ecosystem on has become the standard so we will only strive to make the future better.
Last, but certainly not least, I have to thank all of the people who have gotten us to where we are and allowed us to build a successful track record and gain access to this level of capital. From our customers at agencies, brands and media owners, to our partners at data providers and technology platforms, to the countless industry experts who have shared their knowledge - we are so fortunate to be in a space with so many sharp minds and a willingness to innovate and evolve.
To the global Vistar team - thank you for the years of hard work, relentless pursuit of technical excellence, creative ideas that led to the core pillars of innovation in our space and the continued energy to drive toward the future. I couldn’t be happier and more confident to take these next steps of Vistar with this team. We have always stuck by our belief that a company must prioritize 1) people, 2) product and 3) revenue, strictly in that order. It has only brought us success, a foundation for growth and continues to attract phenomenal talent across Vistar, our clients, our partners and even competitors. [By the way, we’re hiring!]
I couldn’t be more excited for what the future holds for our industry and am glad to see Vistar at the forefront leading the way.