Dave Taylor and John McColman
One day in 2014, Dave Taylor and John McColman, two young, successful advertising executives, were working together at a large advertising company when Dave turned to John and asked, “How do we prove better value to our clients?” They knew the answer, and they also knew the only thing standing in the way was the dusty, old-school playbook that most corporate advertising behemoths refuse to part with. In 2015, they left their jobs to launch In Front Marketing, a data driven, full-service digital advertising agency based in Calgary, Alberta, dedicated to transparency, education, and clear results. With over 23 years of combined experience in digital and traditional advertising, these two innovative leaders of a thriving firm are turning the industry on its head and bringing their clients real value rather than undefined metrics of “clicks” and “impressions.” Just six years since they opened their doors, In Front Marketing has helped industry-leading brands across the U.S. and Canada, including the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, establish a full picture of digital engagement and return on ad spend, putting their businesses in front of consumers with hyper-targeted ads that produce consistent, trackable, and repeatable ROI for their clients.
“These large advertising and marketing companies are still applying the same outdated strategies that they’ve used for decades, blind to the fact that in the age of the digital consumer the formula of throwing spaghetti at the wall no longer works, while charging their clients a hefty price without showing them any real-world results. It’s the customer journey and consumer data that are key to any ad campaign,” says John, the former director of digital operations for Western Canada at Sun Media Corporation. As a seasoned advertising professional who took Sun Media’s digital advertising for Western Canada from $3 million to over $14 million in just four years and took a seven- to 10-day ad window to 12 hours to online, he knows of what he speaks.
In fact, it was at Sun Media that Dave and John realized their joint passion for transparency and their determination to deliver real results to business owners. After six years of working in corporate advertising for both the Yellow Pages and Sun Media, Dave set out on a mission to connect business owners to digital data. John joined him, bringing a wealth of experience and partnerships built over 13 years in the field to help In Front get established quickly. And, indeed, they did, with a firm that is changing the definition of “advertising.”
Utilizing the technology available to them, In Front leverages consumer data to create custom audience profiles for all clients before going to market with any advertising campaign. Within each custom audience, they are able to segment customers based on their current buying habits and overall online hobbies and interests. With partnerships across the industry that allow them to track and monitor specific consumer behaviors—wherever the audience lives in the digital ecosystem—In Front Marketing builds strategic advertising campaigns that allow their clients to accomplish their unique goals and track their return on investment.
“Big agencies would rather hide behind big ideas and big words. They’re using impressions to prove visibility, awareness, and success of the campaign, but they’re not collecting data on the audience or proving ROI,” Dave explains. “We want to show a bigger digital impact than just clicks. Our data will show overall effectiveness of a campaign. Instead of trying to leverage the strength of our client’s brand by reaching a mass audience, we have the ability to reduce their overall marketing costs by implementing strategic targeting and mapping the consumer journey.”
In Front Marketing has mastered the pixel formula, following consumer breadcrumbs across the digital universe—from websites to smartphones and smart TVs, from digital radio channels to the digital screen at a transit stop—and leveraging that data to create campaigns that capture the hearts and minds of potential customers to convert them into buyers.
A prime example of the effectiveness of In Front Marketing’s approach can be seen in their work for one of Canada’s major sports teams who are reaping the benefits—and significant ROI—of the firm’s talent for putting together the data that began as pixels to define the team’s specific audiences and then develop compelling hyper-targeted ad campaigns to reach them. Before approaching In Front Marketing, this Canadian Football Team League team (CFL) had been working with a media giant whose campaign targeted a single audience, football fans, promoting only game times, dates, places—in a region where there were few football fans.
Enter In Front Marketing. Dave, John, and their team brought their expertise to change the brand’s message to appeal to a broader audience. They launched campaigns with stories about other activities and family-friendly events or attractions at the game, such as Paw Patrol, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or in-game entertainment. They then shared that message specifically to families who were looking for things to do on the weekend, inviting them to experience a football game for the first time while enjoying an experience tailored to families to capture their attention. “Before they came to us, all the team knew was that people were clicking on their ads, but they didn’t know if people were buying, and when there was a drop in ticket sales or a lack of ticket sales, they didn’t know how to change the narrative because they had no data to inform them of who their potential audiences were. Working with us, we bring them that audience and leverage those in-game experiences to grow a broader, more engaged fan base,” John says.
This is what In Front does for each and every client—and they’re passionate about it. “At the end of the day, our job is about relationships, and proving results to our clients. Seeing their success is very fulfilling and leads to stronger relationships with all of our clients,” Dave says.
In Front Marketing is very sensitive to the significant financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small companies, and Dave and John are working hard to support the growth and reopening of many local businesses. They’ve put a focus on their community, and have always offered assistance to charitable organizations and small businesses, often without charging a fee, to help them better understand data and the impact that digital advertising can have for their business. “We saw an opportunity to reach out to use our skill sets to help and to connect deeper with organizations that we know are making an impact,” Dave says. “Those charities and businesses will be a huge part of the long-term success for In Front Marketing, and we're fortunate to be working alongside them through this trying time and well into the future.”
Dave Taylor and John McColman
Co-founders — In Front Marketing