Over the last 8 years, Adcombi has grown from a tiny technology branch of a digital marketing agency to an innovative marketing tech firm, trailblazing hyperlocal digital marketing and delivering solutions to some of the world’s largest brands. We owe that success to our people, innovators, decision-makers, marketers, software engineers, strategists, and support people, who contribute to the company in their own ways. In this blog series, we’d like to highlight those people – bringing their skills, personality, and the unique ways they contribute to the company to the forefront.
Gerrit Reinders, Adcombi’s founder, has obviously been with us since day one. As an early innovator in the retail media and programmatic ad space, he’s passionate about seeing companies digitize their local ads.
Gerrit studied International Marketing Management before starting work at De TelefoonGids (DTG), the Dutch version of Yellow Pages. At that point, the telephone book giant had already begun to digitize, and Gerrit took on a role in sales and business development.
Gerrit learned how to sell products and was introduced to local advertising. Yellow Pages offered SME ads, directed at a targeted and local website. Gerrit and a colleague began innovating there, recognizing opportunities for new products and ads.
“If someone is looking for a bike repair shop, a big bike brand like Gazelle could buy that ad space and deliver their ad to a pre-qualified and highly targeted audience – it was brilliant. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to make the changes needed to leverage how they could use this new technology”
Gerrit decided to fully make the shift into digital marketing, leaving his role with DTG. He moved into a role at GroupM – taking on sales management and marketing for a new acquisition – Quisma. Gerrit was responsible for sales in the Benelux market, which is when he was first introduced to programmatic advertising – back when it was still called automated trading.
Just a year and a half later, Gerrit realized he could fill a gap in the market, and he left his role with GroupM to launch his first company, Marqeting.
“Working with GroupM and seeing where programmatic was heading, I realized I could fill a gap in the market. In those days, domestic companies often didn’t have access to the knowledge, resources, or tools to get started with programmatic. From my experience with DTG, I knew even large advertisers lacked a way to target digital advertising and I realized I could deliver a lot of value.”
Marqeting launched as a digital advertising agency, aimed at making programmatic accessible to non-global brands. At the same time, Gerrit wanted to add on services, to make the technology accessible, and to ensure that the technology fit the needs of the companies using it. Marqeting began developing its own software.
“It was around then we started noticing another gap in the market. Digital marketing platforms weren’t designed for decentralized brands with decentralized budgets – those brands, like franchises and branch retailers had no way to use those platforms in a way that made sense.”
Marqeting pivoted its focus, ensuring that platform was fully DSP independent – enabling decentralized brands to integrate programmatic into their local marketing strategies.
“We succeeded so well that our technology is not just being used by franchises and decentralized organizations but also FMCG, retailers, automotive, banking, QSR, and many others.”
Eventually, that ad platform became Adcombi – as Gerrit decided to switch focus to his passion, the innovative side of marketing technology.
“I’m quite proud of the fact that, you know, five years ago we designed a solution on a whiteboard. We drew a visualization between the current tech stacks and what we needed to meet the needs of decentralized advertising. And, although we encountered a lot of hurdles along the way, we never gave up. Today, Adcombi is used by some of the world’s biggest brands and agencies.”
Gerrit is passionate about work, his company, and his people. But, he’s also a father, a dedicated partner, and always happy to go out to have a good time with his friends and his colleagues. Gerrit goes golfing – when family and work allow – and relaxes with lighthearted films that provide a break from his busy schedule – like his favorite, Dumb & Dumber.
“Adcombi important to me, but I try to have a healthy work-life balance. I’d like to see my sons grow up and be an active parent for them. So, I have to practice self-control and not spend all my time working like I used to - because at the end of the day, being there for my family is the most important thing”
Gerrit also loves travel, which his entrepreneurial lifestyle doesn’t always allow for, but which has always allowed him to bring new perspectives to work.
“In 2010, my partner and I decided to drive from Amsterdam to Cape Town to see the World Championship Soccer Match. We took a 1965 Volkswagen van and drove there with no plans and nowhere to be. For me, it was incredibly freeing and inspiring, I was in between roles, and I had the freedom to do anything I wanted, and every moment was an opportunity, and I took that inspiration with me when I went back to the Netherlands. “
“The vertical, which is called local advertising, is probably the last marketing vertical to be digitized. That’s being pushed by factors like a need for traceability and budgeting, better integrated omnichannel strategies, and more locally – regulation around door-to-door flyers and the increasing cost of paper. Plus, with a younger and younger consumer demographic, people just aren’t as interested in paper ads. So, local advertising has to digitize, and fast. I think that as it does, it will have a stronger position within omnichannel marketing strategies. “
“Of course, there are challenges, both for us and for our clients. One of the most pressing is that many organizations don’t have the people they need to invest in innovations. So, while the market is demanding digitization in the local advertising vertical, the transition won’t be as smooth as I’d like.
“Four or five years ago, no one believed in local programmatic advertising and now it’s becoming more vital. I’m very proud that my team, my company, and all my colleagues – those who have been with us from day one and new people – have been able to join, to believe in this journey, and contribute so much to our success”.