To some, an empty storefront can be an eyesore, but to Kobi Wu, it’s a huge opportunity for companies to advertise. That’s why Wu started VisuWall, a company that turns vacant storefronts into advertising space.
Wu spent 18 years in marketing and advertising and has produced content for big-named brands like Nike, Spotify and Google.
The company partners with property owners and advertisers to optimize store spaces. VisuWall uses computer vision technology that monitors and tracks traffic passing the storefronts. The company collects data on the number of people who pass by, their genders, approximate ages and sentiment to help advertisers determine their marketing strategies.
Wu told Black Enterprise that outdoor ads are usually bought in terms of impressions, but don’t have a way of measuring true engagement.
“Brands have to think about the connection they are trying to make with their consumers. Impressions are just the starting point and the real goal is engagement.” Wu said. “While we are in a digital age, we still have a physical journey to take so we should work to make that journey meaningful.”
Wu said she got the idea for VisuWall after noticing the amount of vacant storefront in New York, where she lives, and in Los Angeles, where she does business.
“I watched some of my favorite hot spots disappearing before my eyes,” Wu said. “Once I started asking questions, I realized commercial real estate, in particular, retail is impacted by a myriad of issues most of which will not get fixed in one night.”
VisuWall focuses on eye-level media and now wants to help optimize that form of marketing for companies. VisuWall currently has a presence in New York and Los Angeles with plans to expand to other markets later this year.
According to a November New York Times article, there is a 20 percent vacancy rate in New York City; however, reporting by the Commercial Observer puts the rate much lower and clarifies that the availability rate is 20 percent. Either way, there’s a large opportunity for property owners to use their empty spaces fro advertising.
So far, VisuWall has raised $550,000 from XRC Labs, New Age Capital, and other private investors and is in its latest funding round. The company is currently looking to raise at least $25,000 through its crowdfunding campaign on Republic by April. VisuWall plans to use the funding to expand its teams and to 20 markets by 2020.
VisuWall has worked with major brands like Burberry, Apple Music and Bumble with the average campaign costing $35,000 for three weeks.