Adam Zel­cer is the orig­i­nal Ad­boy. He’s out to de­liver a more ef­fec­tive and af­ford­able ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing ser­vice to small busi­nesses.

For Auck­land-born Adam Zel­cer life has al­ways re­volved around the next big op­por­tu­nity. Even as a schoolboy he was buy­ing favourite lol­lies from the dairy on the way to school and re­selling them to his class­mates at lunchtime for a profit.

His teenage years were pep­pered with var­i­ous busi­ness projects in­clud­ing wash­ing cars, re­selling ve­hi­cles pur­chased at auc­tion, and im­port­ing hand­bags from China.

Adam stud­ied graphic de­sign at Univer­sity and com­pleted work experience at a tra­di­tional ad­ver­tis­ing agency. As a high- school stu­dent he ad­mits he wasn’t en­gaged in his stud­ies – there­fore he strug­gled in the work­place, hav­ing to buy books to get up to speed on gram­mar, spell­ing, maths and com­put­ing as an adult.

“I dropped out af­ter two years of in­ter­na­tional busi­ness stud­ies be­cause I had learnt more af­ter just a few weeks experience in my hand­bag im­port busi­ness,” he re­calls – an on­line busi­ness he ran in his spare time.

Adam dis­cov­ered his knack for ad­ver­tis­ing and statis­tics while work­ing his day – job in cus­tomer ser­vice for a strug­gling

“We're mov­ing to­wards a fu­ture of AI and au­toma­tion in ad­ver­tis­ing, so a lot of agen­cies with­out the tech­ni­cal and cre­ative skills are go­ing to fall be­hind.”

smart­phone re­pair ser­vice. The busi­ness was only av­er­ag­ing a few re­pairs per day, and that was just from foot traf­fic.

“I fig­ured peo­ple search­ing on­line for a phone re­pair cen­tre nearby could be a goer, and so I put a propo­si­tion to my boss. I would spend my own time af­ter hours learn­ing on­line ad­ver­tis­ing, pro­vided he gave me an ad­ver­tis­ing bud­get.

“My boss agreed and my ef­forts re­sulted in bring­ing in five times the amount of daily re­pairs in just a few months. Em­ploy­ment tripled and later we had to move to a larger lo­ca­tion,” he says. The thrill of grow­ing a busi­ness soon be­came an ad­dic­tion for Adam. It wasn’t long be­fore busi­ness own­ers were call­ing him for help. Adam’s suc­cess at the re­pair cen­tre meant he didn’t have to con­vince them in or­der to work with him.

He also got a buzz out of help­ing busi­ness own­ers. “I got to see the peo­ple I work with make a profit, and other pos­i­tives such as cre­at­ing more em­ploy­ment and help­ing con­sumers get what they want.”

Thanks to his suc­cess Adam was now pick­ing up clients by word of mouth. He left his job to work free­lance, and then in Septem­ber 2017 kicked off Ad­ from a desk in a small de­sign stu­dio.

“I re­mem­bered ‘Ad­man’ was a nickname given to tra­di­tional ad­ver­tis­ing peo­ple in the early 1900s, so I thought ‘Ad­’ would be a smart brand for a new breed of on­line agen­cies.”


To­day based in Mel­bourne, but tar­get­ing both sides of the Tas­man, Ad­boy is gain­ing trac­tion.

De­spite his per­sonal chal­lenge over selling, be­cause he “doesn’t have the gift of the gab”, Adam’s new ven­ture has pro­gressed well.

“The sup­port from ev­ery­one I’ve worked with since day one has been in­cred­i­ble,” says Adam. “The busi­nesses I work with al­ways tell their friends about me. I guess they’ve been do­ing most of my sales work! A few have even wanted to in­vest in me!”

The busi­ness hasn’t thrown up any sur­prises so far, he says, although he be­lieves that might be mainly due to the fact that he’s very cau­tious.

“There’s zero tem­plate for suc­cess in busi­ness – you just have to ed­u­cate your­self and do your best work.”

In cre­at­ing his on­line ad­ver­tis­ing ser­vice, Adam wanted to of­fer a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive than “an en­tire team of mar­ket­ing ex­perts, and at a frac­tion of the cost”.

“We’re achiev­ing this by pro­vid­ing ef­fec­tive on­line ad­ver­tis­ing ser­vices and cut­ting out tra­di­tional ad agency over­heads like sta­tionery, meet­ings, sales staff and any labour that can [now] be au­to­mated.

“Ad­boy also con­nects com­pa­nies via chat to AI-as­sisted ad­ver­tis­ers – so their dol­lars only ever go to­wards smart work.”

Is he wor­ried that other sim­i­lar ser­vices will en­ter the agency mar­ket­place? Not re­ally.

“There are many other ad­ver­tis­ers out there but it’s never both­ered me be­cause Ad­ has its own way of do­ing things and oth­ers do their own ver­sion. Just like there are plenty of co­me­di­ans out there but none like Jerry Se­in­feld!”


Com­ment­ing on the ad agency land­scape, Adam says the barriers to in­dus­try en­try are fairly low so there is a lot of medi­ocrity. “We’re mov­ing to­wards a fu­ture of AI and au­toma­tion in ad­ver­tis­ing, so a lot of agen­cies with­out the tech­ni­cal and cre­ative skills are go­ing to fall be­hind.”

He ex­plains his lat­est ini­tia­tive is to help put busi­nesses on ‘au­topi­lot’ with ‘virtual cus­tomer ser­vice as­sis­tants’ on Face­book Mes­sen­ger.

“The au­to­mated re­sponses help busi­nesses serve, and sell to, their cus­tomers 24/7 while cut­ting out big em­ploy­ment over­heads,” he ex­plains. “It is go­ing to change how many busi­nesses en­gage with their cus­tomers and I am re­ally ex­cited to be one of the first to make this tech­nol­ogy prac­ti­cal to SMEs in Aus­tralia and New Zealand.”

Adam sees chat as­sis­tants as a cost-ef­fec­tive way for busi­nesses to con­nect with cus­tomers.

“Hu­man cus­tomer ser­vice that’s 24/7 is ex­pen­sive and web­sites have a lot of fric­tion with stuff like page speed, nav­i­ga­tion, forms, ac­count cre­ation, FAQs, check­outs and the need for call­ing a hu­man.

“There are a lot of in­stances where web­sites can be by­passed and where hu­man in­ter­ac­tion can be au­to­mated which will lead to cheaper cus­tomer ac­qui­si­tion costs.”

Ad­boy is an ini­tia­tive and op­por­tu­nity that Adam is 100 per­cent com­mit­ted to, and he’s in it for the long-haul.

Along the way he might just be in­stru­men­tal in trans­form­ing an in­dus­try that is long over­due for one.


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