Making a big noise in social: local business social marketing platform Tiger Pistol expands in the US

Local advertising has proved difficult for marketers in an online world despite the promises of services like Google My Business and Facebook Pages. Melbourne-founded advertising platform Tiger Pistol believes it has an answer for brands wanting to connect to neighbourhood consumers.

Now based out of Austin, Texas, the company’s CEO & co-founder Steve Hibberd spoke to Mumbrella about Tiger Pistol’s growth and how marketers are adapting to local selling on Facebook and other social media platforms.

Hibberd: “Facebook is mainstream media, it’s not social sitting over in the corner”

The company was launched in 2011 by Hibberd and his co-founders Troy Townsend and David Solomon to help local businesses use social media to drive traffic to their stores. Tiger Pistol’s name is taken from the prawn that makes a big noise to stun its prey.

“It’s alway been about delivering meaningful business outcomes for local businesses before Facebook were even close to having product,” Hibberd explained.

“Where that’s evolved to is we’ve delivered the leading capability around local. We’ve doubled down on ads and we’ve built the world’s leading capability around local but also Facebook’s optimal products, high-quality ads with a high degree of automation,” he continued.

Since the business was founded, the company has seen investments from MelbourneIT, Victorian-based VC company Rampersand and private investors. The 2014 funding raised $3.1m to underwrite its US expansion. Recently the company brought REA Group chairman Hamish McLennan on board  as an adviser.

“Where our capabilities have hit the big time is there’s a major trend occurring with regional, national and multinational brands moving more dollars to local,” Hibberd observed. “In the US for example, between now and 2020 it’s forecast there will be $17.4 billion will incrementally go to local in that time away from national.

“The other big trend that isn’t slowing down is the spending on social, so we sort of sit now with a proven capability at the centre of those two trends – social and local – that’s where we operate.”

As with most companies providing social media services, Tiger Pistol has found Facebook the most useful channel despite also offering services on Instagram, Pintrest, Snapchat, Twitter and other online platforms: “Facebook is mainstream media, it’s not social sitting over in the corner so leveraging a Facebook Page as a presence is a major thing,” said Hibberd.

“That’s overrun Google Places to an extent because there’s not the traffic to a Google Place environment whereas we have these incredibly high levels of engagement in the Facebook environment.

“With other media, like mobile display, you can target a given geo area. With Facebook you have the benefit of the pages and what we’re able to do as Tiger Pistol which you can’t do on Facebook today, we’re able to connect up the local pages of an Asahi or of Aussie Farmers Direct or KX Pilates and then you create brand campaigns at a brand level which we can then localise off the local Pages.

“Ultimately it becomes a more relevant ad with more localised targeting which proves to be more effective. We’re seeing across the board on average a 30%-plus and sometimes a six-times greater performance with a campaign run off the local pages versus run off the brand pages.”

The move the US was logical one, Hibberd believes given the size of the marketplace: “We always knew the US was critical to achieving scale, when it came into 2014 we’d started achieving enough success here, we’d seen Facebook had started moving into the direct response products and we made a decision to move in early 2015.”

With the US move the company now has 70 staff split between North America and Australia with a sprinkling in the UK to deal with European demands for the products.

Hibberd dismissed the risk that the social media platforms themselves can fill the market which Tiger Pistol currently occupies.

“It is a very nascent opportunity, Facebook haven’t had the product to go hyper-local like we can enable. We’re probably 12 to 24 months ahead of them.

“There’s a bunch of complexity around local and then another bunch of complexities within the Facebook stack, the thing that is the major differentiator for us is our core business is local. For others, their core business is something else.”


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