Founder Spotlight: Geoff Mabasa of GYPSY

The future of advertising through hypertargeted in-transit ads

By Michaela Villaroman


While it was debunked that humans are more easily distracted than goldfish, research reveals that our attention spans have actually evolved. Nowadays, people are more deliberate and selective in the data they consume and engage with. But who could blame us when we are constantly exposed to a plethora of posts and videos on the daily?


Content oversaturation has become a huge problem, and for marketing professionals, this means that they need to step up their game. With the growing need to execute better and more meaningful campaigns, marketers are now turning to targeted ads as a means to maximize effectiveness.


As viewers would naturally be more engaged with content that is relevant to their profile and interests, precisely targeting a certain demographic with ads that fit their wants and needs is surely bound to pique their attention. Geoff Mabasa, Founder and CEO of GYPSY, swears by the power of targeted ads. And he reckons it could even be taken a step further -- through utilizing hypertargeted in-transit ads.


Utilizing hypertargeted in-transit ads


Regular commuters in the Philippines would know that spending an insane amount of time stuck in traffic is a part of everyone’s day-to-day. And the idle time we end up with in our daily commute equates to a gold mine of opportunity for advertisers. At least, that’s what it meant for Geoff.


“I don’t like driving, so I often commute to work. There was this one incident where I took a cab to my office, and I had a talkative driver. What started out as small talk eventually turned into him trying to sell me some longganisa,” Geoff laughs.


Turns out, Geoff’s cab driver sold products to his passengers as a means to earn extra income for his family. And after sitting in traffic for 66 minutes with a driver trying to talk him into buying something, Geoff walked away with an idea -- and I’m guessing some longganisa, too. He says, “I thought the situation played out like an ad would -- like an ad inside a car. So I thought, how about we start displaying advertising materials in vehicles? That way, drivers can get commissions, passengers can find more meaningful ads, and advertisers can deliver better campaigns.”


With that, the idea for GYPSY came to be. And since 2018, the ad-tech platform has been able to help advertisers extend their reach to unique, affluent, ride-hailing passengers through tablets inside Grab cars and taxi operator networks in the Philippines.


GYPSY, the Lazada for ads


How does it work? The tablets have in-built software that is able to profile passengers. After identifying basic information like the rider’s gender and age through facial recognition, GYPSY is then able to match them to ads that are most likely relevant to their interests. By doing this, GYPSY is not only able to help advertisers come up with a better way to deliver their campaigns but also help alleviate viewers from ad fatigue that is caused by constantly being shown ads they may not care about.


Generating 14 million impressions monthly, and expecting to scale those numbers up to 100 million by the end of 2019, GYPSY is on to an impressive start. Geoff shares that they are already expanding their services. They have recently partnered with YellowDot Transport to provide advertisers a means to reach passengers riding buses.


Down the line, their overall goal is to “unify offline media in the Philippines” by including billboards and radio to their mix of available media channels. “In a sense, we’re trying to consolidate everything into one platform. We want to be the Lazada for ads,” Geoff says.


The GYPSY team


Marketing’s shift to digital


Much of Geoff’s expertise in marketing and advertising could be credited to the work he had done in the past. Having pioneered the marketing efforts in the Philippines of big companies like Practo, TikTok, and Grab, he considers himself well versed not only in creating and executing killer campaigns but also in leading a team. In fact, he chalks up much of his entrepreneurial skills to his marketing roots.


As both a marketing guru and entrepreneur, Geoff wants to make an impact in the local marketing industry through GYPSY. “In a way, a lot of marketing leaders out there are still ‘dinosaurs’. They haven’t really embraced new media even if the global trend is shifting to digital,” he explains. “And since we know that newer platforms are proving to be more effective than their traditional counterparts, we want to be the catalysts for changing people's mindsets, encouraging them to use it.”


From making music to making business


At the end of the day, what Geoff really wants to do is to make an impact through his work. This has always been a prerequisite of his even before his marketing career and business took off. He tells us, “Back then, my biggest aspiration was to become a music producer. I wanted to get into the entertainment industry, producing music for artists, topping the charts, and influencing people through my music.”


Geoff took Music Production in De La Salle - College of Saint Benilde, and was absolutely set on following that career path. Unfortunately after experiencing a few not so ideal run ins with the industry, he realized that pursuing the field might not be for the best. He decided to look elsewhere for another creative outlet, and he found that in marketing.

With his newfound passion in marketing and, eventually, entrepreneurship, Geoff is happy that he can continue making an impact through his work. “I thought I would become a successful music producer; I thought I would influence people by means of my music,” he tells us. “But when I found marketing and entrepreneurship, I realized how much of an influence I can be here, too. I guess giving up on one dream and embracing another is something that really worked out for me.”


Now immortalized through musical symbol tattoos that decorate his arms, it appears that music will always hold an importance to Geoff. He says, “It never really fully leaves you -- the music doesn’t really leave you.”


Geoff Mabasa, Founder and CEO of GYPSY


Innovation is my medication


While it may have been bittersweet to shelf one of his dreams in lieu of another, Geoff says that he has no regrets. In fact, he even goes to saying that entrepreneurship actually saved him. He shared about dealing with his diagnosis for bipolar disorder and how he coped. “Being an entrepreneur really opened up my mind to the different challenges in life. It made me realize that my struggles with my mental health is not something that I cannot solve. In a way, entrepreneurship led me to become a better person,” he shares optimistically.


On top of running GYPSY, Geoff is keen on promoting his advocacies as well. He shares his future plans, “Aside from running GYPSY, I’m also working on a new healthcare technology app. It’s targeted towards people who are recently diagnosed with mental disorders to help them cope and manage their diagnosis better.”


Geoff believes that it is his internal motivation to leave a positive impact that has been able to help him keep going. His advice for fellow entrepreneurs looking to do the same, "Take those free flights you’re given; go on to new places; try out new things; and experience everything. As an entrepreneur, you need to know how to deal with any challenges that comes your way. And being open to more experiences gives you the opportunity to learn. Learn and be passionate enough to make a lasting influence through your work.”


To learn more about GYPSY, you can check out their website here.