Tony Jacobson

Media and Entertainment
Tony Jacobson

Tony Jacobson’s career proves it: You can put ads just about anywhere—above restroom sinks, on the handle of a gas pump. For 30 years, Jacobson has wrapped ads around buses, applied them to the sides of trucks, and affixed them in restaurant restrooms—among other places. His firm has attracted hundreds of notable brands, including Walmart, Honda and the Minnesota Wild, seeking to put their messages in front of audiences that, well, can’t miss them.

The entrepreneurial Jacobson began by installing print ads inside St. Cloud-area restaurants and bars in 1987 while still a student at St. Cloud State University. Over the next 13 years, his company, AJ Indoor, expanded into more than 50 cities. Two years after selling AJ Indoor, he launched AllOver Media to develop more ad-media products and a more unified cross-country platform. “The majority of our sales are national buys,” Jacobson says. Advertisers “can buy us virtually in any state, city or zip code in the United States,” he adds. “None of the big [ad media] players could offer that.”

The growth has been solid. AJ Indoor generated $6.3 million in revenue when Jacobson sold it in 2000; by 2015, AllOver Media sales were $38 million. That year, Boston-based middle-market private equity firm Audax Group bought AllOver, and Jacobson stuck around as chief innovation officer. This April, Jacobson resigned to become an AllOver franchisee in the booming Dallas-Fort Worth market. The reason? To pursue a new idea: creating digital video advertising in restaurant, bar and nightclub restrooms.

The videos Jacobson is putting together operate in one-minute loops, so that the viewer sees all the short ads. So far, his monitors have been installed in more than 150 Dallas-area venues. The platform offers advertisers flexibility and nimbleness. “You can buy this by the day,” Jacobson says. What’s more, advertisers “can change their ad as often as they wish,” targeting “a captive audience that’s gender-specific.” Current advertisers include Red Bull and Supercuts, plus several local clients.

Jacobson believes other markets will want to give his idea a look, but he’s not planning to start another company. Still, Jacobson notes, “I’m a start-up guy, and I love this opportunity.”