Laptops, the New Sandwich Boards

The advertising trend of vehicle wrapping is so yesterday. Today it’s wrapping ads on the back of students’ laptops. 

Former Auburn University student Parker Owens is busy growing his Opelika-based startup, Frapz Advertising. Students are paid for every minute their ad-wrapped laptop is in high-traffic areas on campus, giving advertisers access to this valued college demographic. 

Says Owens, “Instead of Apple or Dell, we’re repurposing that real estate for somebody else.”

Frapz leases the backs of college students’ laptops for third-party advertisers. Tracking technology allows advertisers to monitor and adjust their ad campaigns from a single portal. They can track real-time impressions, the number of times their ad is seen, with a simple interface. 

An app enables advertisers to view high-traffic locations. It also allows students to schedule a time to have an ad removed and replaced with a new one. A tab allows students to withdraw or deposit their earnings into their bank account.

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Frapz is in its beta period and is testing with several Auburn businesses. Plans are to begin this fall semester at Auburn University and expand to other campuses. Owens says students will be paid an average of 5 cents a minute, which could total about $1, 000 per semester.

The more laptops a client advertises on, the lower the cost per laptop. One to nine laptops is $75 per laptop, 10 to 50 is $70 per laptop and 50 to 100 is $65. Owens expects each laptop to receive about 5, 000 impressions per week. 

Owens’ father is a sign painter and artist who wrapped his son’s laptop with an image of one of his paintings. Students asked Owens how they could get their laptops similarly wrapped. 

His father suggested laptops as a new advertising medium. “I thought, ‘This is brilliant and if we don’t do it somebody else will.’”

Most universities prohibit third-party companies from advertising on campus. But Owens found a loophole: a student laptop is private property. 

Owens plans to contact the presidential candidates’ representatives about advertising during the fall 2016 semester — cool political ads to attract young voters. 

“Frapz is following the same basic formula but for laptops instead of cars, ” notes David Ketchen, professor of management and research director of the Lowder Center for Family Business & Entrepreneurship at AU’s Raymond J. Harbert College of Business.

“Students will be paid by Frapz to do what they would do anyway — working on their laptops in public spaces. So it’s easy to imagine students everywhere embracing Frapz.” 

Text by Jessica Armstrong

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