Before roads filled with delivery bikes during lockdown, two young entrepreneurs had spotted potential in delivery bike advertising, and built an advertising tech company that digitally connects brands with micro-enterprises on two-wheels while also providing social impact.
MotionAds had its roots signing up delivery drivers outside fast-food outlets with clipboards and landed their first campaign with just four motorbikes.
Jon Berkowitz (28) and Elan Band (29) have now successfully built an innovative app to track motorbike advertising. The app delivers measurable campaigns to brands, but also pays drivers an extra income for having their delivery box branded – and even rewards them for better driving behaviour.
The company currently works with an average of 500 drivers per month and has paid out over R3 million to drivers in nearly four years. Recently it announced they’ll be working with Uber Eats South Africa which will see it scale to over 1,000 drivers in the coming months.
The duo, best friends with a passion for entrepreneurship, media, and tech – considered the idea of ‘moveable billboards’ in 2018 when stuck in traffic.
“We debated what a waste that people don’t advertise on cars and a few months later we decided to act on it. We initially approached students as a way for them to earn extra income but many didn’t have good cars. We also couldn’t track their driving journeys, so we approached Uber to use their cars, but it wasn’t a viable option at the time,” says Band.
As branding cars was too expensive, they began researching bikes as an option. In the concept phase in 2019, Band pitched the idea to a pizza company of branding other scooters with his logo to give the perception of more pizzas being delivered.
“The next day he agreed to four branded bikes and MotionAds was born.” Building a client base did not happen overnight. “The pizza company, and two other companies we signed, kept renewing as they saw the return on their investment. This proved the concept worked.”
At the time, MotionAds was a side hustle. Band had just completed law school and was preparing to work in London, while Berkowitz, with a marketing and tech background, was running a lead generation business.
In July 2019 – as clients continued to renew their contracts and bigger brands began testing the space – the duo decided to give MotionAds a real chance and opted to go full-time in their business.
While new business remained slower than expected, they took this time to fine-tune their business – and more importantly, their tech – and this paid off when lockdown hit.
“March 2020 was the real turning point for their business. The only way to get in front of the customer was via delivery bikes as people were under lockdown for those initial weeks, or didn’t want to leave their homes.” By this time, MotionAds was scalable.
“We had gone through our product development and lots of trial and error. In the beginning, it took us eight hours to onboard and wrap four bikes with the advertising. Now we do over 200 bikes in five days.
“We went from working with 100 drivers, manually signing them up on street corners and tracking campaigns on excel sheets. We now have over 2,000 drivers on our app. We have signed brands such as Vodacom, Pick n Pay, Hollard and Nedbank.
“Working with Uber Eats will unlock huge growth potential for our business, and thousands more drivers. We will have access to highly rated drivers working with UberEats. This will enable us to seamlessly increase our capacity to run more campaigns, with more delivery drivers, across Africa,” says Band.
Berkowitz stresses that they aren’t just two guys selling advertising on motorbikes. “Our innovation lies in technology. We have built unique tech-enabled systems and apps to deploy branded delivery bikes to targeted suburbs, track how far drivers travel and how many hours they spend on the road.
“This is summarised in a digital dashboard for clients, giving them real data and tangible results for their spend.” Berkowitz says they also conducted research to understand the real reach of an average driver.
“We counted 11,000 ‘eyeballs’ on the bike during your typical day. This included a car in front and behind a motorbike and pedestrians on the roads.” This means one bike averages 300,000 ‘eyeballs’ (impressions) a month.
“While one bike has a small impact, take 200 bikes and you have the “power of the swarm”. This is always a trade-off for companies when considering our platform, says Berkowitz. “The impact of a billboard is big, but the reach is small as it is stationary. An average delivery bike travels 70km a day and is on the road for 10 hours.”
MotionAds technology has created an innovative and disruptive advertising platform, while also giving back to drivers in the space. “The amount drivers earn vary, depending on the type of campaign which can range from bike branding to in-home flyer or product sample drops and convoy or driver-powered activations.”
Band says they have also used tech to solve problems within the business. “Driver behaviour on the roads is always a concern for brands, so we launched a driver incentive scheme that we track.
“The better they drive, the more they can earn, and we have noticed a shift in driver behaviour thanks to our shared-value model that helps them maximise their time on the road safely.”
MotionAds anticipates huge growth for the ‘moveable billboards’ industry. “Grocery and delivery industries continue to invest in their online offerings, and this will grow the on-demand delivery gig economy.
“We believe the platform we’ve created is a win-win for advertisers and drivers. Clients have seen the benefits while we empower these micro-enterprises on two wheels to earn more revenue,” concludes Berkowitz.