Marc Kidd on Bringing His Dad's Winning Formula to Captivate

By Jack Myers Legends & Leaders Archives

If you have the opportunity to attend a football game at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, KY, you'd be visiting Roy Kidd Stadium, named after long-time EKU Head Football Coach Roy Kidd, who achieved 314 wins in his 39-year career and led the team to two Division I-AA National Championships in 1979 and 1982.  His son, Marc Kidd, now CEO of Captivate (the leading location-based digital video network), recalls that he never saw a football game from the stands until he was an adult.  Being with his dad in the locker room and on the sidelines (see photo above) has not only influenced his management style, but offers a set of guidelines and life lessons that inform all of those around him. 

"When I think about culture and goals in a management role," Marc comments, "I recall the times I was on the field with my father, and I use his philosophy.  He would say 'Treat people the way you want to be treated' and 'I'm a better coach when I have better players.'  The relevant lesson today is about the people you work with in business.  So much of the business is caught up in activity rather than action.  We're in the media business and want to develop long-term relationships with brands, but more importantly with the people behind them.  We try to think about our client relationships and our audiences as a marriage rather than dating."

Another lesson Marc learned from his dad is the importance of being able to make decisions in real time.  "I'll never forget a conversation we had before a game with severe weather conditions," Marc, pictured below, says. "I was concerned about the weather, but my father told me not to worry about things beyond your control. 'You can only react – in football, sales, life and business -- and have an open attitude about how you are going to react and deal with things as they happen,' he said."

Marc connects this lesson to his decision to join Captivate as CEO in October 2013 after serving almost five years as President of Media Sales at the Outdoor Channel.  "I had no idea about out-of-home and place-based media," he says.  He accepted the job because of Mark Shapiro, a well-known media executive.  Earlier in his career, Marc had been COO of Host Sports, a leading sports marketing company, where he became familiar with Shapiro's work at ESPN.  "After Host, I went to work for Winnercomm, a producer of horse racing, rodeo, golf, major league soccer, bowling and other content for ESPN, and we worked closely with Mark," he recalls.  "When Mark recommended me for the position, I called my son in Chicago to discuss the opportunity.  He gave Captivate a glowing recommendation based on his own experience as a viewer; he could even identify advertisers.  I decided to take a look, and … wow. Captivate reaches a prime-time audience in the daytime, who are desirable, light TV viewers with a high disposable income and attractive demographics.  If we could position it and present it, I knew it would be a winning formula."

He points out that when he took over, "this was a company developed by smart engineers that was tucked into Gannett, with no full-motion video.  It was basically PowerPoint in the elevator.  But I viewed the Captivate environment as the world's largest transportation system and the first driverless cars in the ecosystem.  We create vertical communities that range from iconic venues like the Empire State Building, to Wall Street buildings where billions in stocks are bought and sold, to buildings where ads are created and media budgets are invested.  What they all have in common is the transportation system. So we refreshed the design, rebranded and introduced video.  We knew we could deliver highly targeted campaigns by market, individual building and preferred audience.  We can target by the most sought- after companies, job titles and age groups, including Fortune 500 companies, advertising agencies, C-suite executives, accountants and Millennials.  There are media brands who are targeting media buyers, creative agencies and marketers.  We can target them all with the ability to deliver different messages to different customers.

"It's fascinating that the country used to identify itself by geographic regions," Marc contionues.  "Today, it's defined by concentrations of jobs and services.  More people are working in large high-density office buildings in both urban and suburban areas.  Millennials are living in the workplace nine-plus hours daily.  More people are doing Internet transactions between 9 and 5.  Captivate provides an uninterrupted environment to engage this audience every day."

Marc suggests that Captivate and cinema advertising are complementary in that both can run full-motion video when people are pausing, taking a breath, and in transition.  "We reduce stress and anxiety in Captivate buildings," Marc claims.  "I'm bullish on place-based screen companies that have begun to get consideration from big brands.  With mobile extensions, cross-device targeting and location visit measurement, the power of location is unlocked.

"The elevator," he points out, "is an awkward social space.  If there is a screen you focus on it.  It creates a compelling environment for a message of content, news and information.  Consumers choose to tune in every day.  Brand ads are not below the fold.  There's no fraud or bots.  It works; the upscale professionals who engage with Captivate multiple times a day have enormous spending power and are influenced by what's on the screen."

Marc argues that the out-of-home industry "needs to make it easier to buy across a footprint of digital screens.  It will be necessary to be in a computer-centric and programmatic ecosystem that includes OOH and digital.  It's challenging because we attract different dollars with different objectives.  Joining with others in the space is the smart thing to do to help the industry grow."

Perhaps Marc's greatest lesson learned from his dad is how to win by recruiting the best talent and creating a culture that inspires their best performance.  To this day, Roy Kidd (pictured above) is listed in the top-10 winning college coaches.  At Captivate, Marc Kidd believes "winning is defined by delivering great results for our clients that translate into long-term partnerships.  I'm not on the sidelines watching the game anymore," he laughs.  "At Captivate, we're on the field and in the game."

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