If you wear or carry anything that displays a brand name or logo on it, you’re already a walking advertisement.
So why not get paid for it?
One startup is making that happen in a unique way.
Nomad Technologies, a Bellevue, Washington-based marketing platform, pays people to advertise for brands by walking around densely-populated areas with tablets displaying messages attached to their backpacks.
Nomad’s approach to advertising takes what would be a stagnant message on a sign or billboard and makes it mobile. The messages grab attention in a crowd like a sign spinner or a mascot might — they’re just geared for the 21st century.
Founder and CEO Jonah Friedl launched Nomad on the campus of Washington State University two years ago when he was still a student.
Friedl told us his plans for growth include bringing money-making opportunities to many more college students — and those who’ve long left college days behind.
‘Like Uber for Advertising’
Friedl described Nomad as being like “Uber for advertising” in that brands can launch advertising campaigns in almost any market, bringing work to people nationwide. Several of its clients, including Zipcar, Timberland, YouTube and LimeBike, are brands that advertise all across the country.
Nomad has branched out since its start at Washington State University. Friedl said the company is active on over 13 college campuses, including Stanford University, University of Washington, University of Texas – Austin, Boston University, New York University and Georgia Tech.
He plans to have coverage at 100 campuses and in 20 major metropolitan areas by the end of 2018.
Nomad also mimics popular ridesharing companies in other ways, particularly in the flexibility of the work. Those who sign on with the platform (fittingly referred to as Nomads) have the flexibility of choosing when they want to work.
Friedl said Nomads are paid between $10 and $20 an hour, with pay varying in the way that surge pricing works.
“They’re incentivized to walk during busy times and in busy areas,” he said. “Nomads get bonuses based on the more people they get in front of.”
Friedl said Nomad’s app will alert workers to special events, such as an on-campus concert, where they can have a chance to make more money.
What’s Needed to Become a Nomad
Friedl said Nomad has a network of over 2,000 people, ranging from college students to senior citizens. The startup continually welcomes more to join its ranks.
Those who end up being a good fit for the company are those who are easily able to speak to what the ad is selling.
“If it’s a campaign with Timberland — who’s a customer of ours at Stanford — we make sure those students are hiking enthusiasts, outdoor enthusiasts [and] already a fan of the brand so they’re extremely excited to be brought in to be representing it,” Friedl said. “Going into it, they’re well versed to speak on behalf of the quality of the product.”
Potential Nomads must check off boxes about their interests on the application, and they’re asked to give their social media handles so the company can match people up with the right ad campaigns.
Signing Up to Be a Walking Sign
Friedl said after the initial application review, applicants must complete an interview process.
“We do over-the-phone and Skype interviews with every single person that we hire,” he said.
If a campaign is not available when a person signs up to work for Nomad, their information is kept on a waiting list until workers are needed. That waiting period is sometimes as long as four weeks, Friedl said.
The wait time can be shorter in the areas where Nomad is already established, such as the college campuses in which they’ve deployed and in cities like Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, he said.
“Those are really popular markets where we get a ton of requests and people stay pretty busy,” Friedl said.
Nomads are only assigned to work one campaign at a time. If they don’t already own a tablet, they can lease one through the company.
To make sure they’ll have the perfect response when a passerby stops to ask them about the ad on their backpack, brands provide the company with a one-pager with pertinent information.
“We run that through our system so that all the Nomads, a week in advance, are trained up and quizzed up on what they’re going to be promoting,” Friedl said.
More Than Just Money
Nomad may be a great way for people to earn money, but it also has a charitable aim to help the communities where it’s active.
Friedl said the company recently gave workers at Stanford University the option to divert 20% of their pay for one week to the American Red Cross’ disaster relief in the wake of the northern California fires — with Nomad matching the contributions.
It issued a similar invitation to Texas workers in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
“We’re really big advocates of local philanthropy at the micro level,” Friedl said.
To sign up to work for Nomad, click here.
Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.