Drive Business Growth in Digital Advertising through this Simple Strategy

When it comes to digital advertising, it’s no secret that success is measured in the form of clicks and conversions. If one wants to stand out in this fast-paced and incredibly competitive marketplace, it’s crucial to have an innovative strategy that’s rarely — or never — been seen before. Enter Ryan Coyne, a Cornell graduate and CEO of Starboard, who is reimagining the growing industry by adding the element of risk.  

Beginning his career in finance, Coyne took the leap into the world of digital advertising, putting his calculated risk strategy to the true test. After a stint at JP Morgan, Coyne followed his entrepreneurial calling, cofounding an advertising company called IMGE. In 2018, ready to break out on his own, he established his current company Starboard, a new-age digital advertising agency based in Washington, D.C.  

In 2023, 10,776 Digital Advertising Agency businesses are vying for clients’ attention in the US. This number has increased by 21.8% since 2022, showcasing the rapid growth in the industry. Even in this crowded market, Coyne has managed to carve a niche for himself and Starboard through his groundbreaking strategy — essentially turning the traditional model on its head.  

“One of the core focuses for us is to reduce the risk associated with advertising for our clients,” Coyne says. “We only get paid when we achieve success for the client. This model is very rarely seen in an advertising agency.”      

Behind Coyne’s leadership and innovative model, Starboard’s rise to success has come quickly, leading them to be named one of the fastest-growing companies in the nation by INC 5000 in 2021. Starboard boasts a diverse clientele spanning industries like politics, sports, entertainment, intelligence and defense, consumer brands, real estate, and advocacy. Instead of having clients bear the financial burden of advertising, Starboard takes it on for them. And while this innovative approach might only apply to some clients, those who qualify have found it successful.  

“Our focus is national brands who enter our partnership with an existing audience or platform they use to promote their message,” Coyne says. “This provides us with a solid foundation to build upon. It also enables us to cultivate brand awareness more effectively and achieve cashflow positivity early on.” 

Starboard’s risk-free model isn’t the only thing the competition should envy. Coyne has a team of over 50 specialize in different aspects of advertising, from crafting compelling email copy and conducting in-depth data analysis to audience segmentation and landing page optimization. Starboard ensures that every element of an ad campaign is getting the personalized attention it deserves. 

In addition to the advertising sector, Starboard also includes a publishing organization overseeing multiple sites, collectively attracting about 40 million pageviews each month. Their third division focuses on consumer products, with their standout offering being a wine brand named “We The People Wine.”  

“Our products division has to be one of my favorite aspects of the Starboard,” Coyne admits. “Our wine is produced out of Napa Valley, California, which everybody knows is the number one region, especially for Cabernet and Chardonnay. The goal was to create a high-quality wine that embodied American values. The response has been enormous.” 

When it comes to the structure of the company, Coyne believes in a verticalized approach. While the masterminds and creatives from each respective part of the company will step in and share their skills when needed, there isn’t much overlap regarding management. This vertical approach helps ensure that each sector is taken care of and has the tools it needs to thrive. 

So what’s Coyne’s secret to running a company with so many moving parts? Delegation and a trustworthy team. 

“Managing three different businesses and overseeing foundation operations makes delegation vital,” Coyne explains. “It’s essential for the continued growth and expansion of our ventures. You have to trust your leadership team and be able to rely on them and their capacity to handle responsibilities through delegation. Without this, maintaining a unified direction and progress would be challenging.” 

Coyne is also highly confident in the individuals he places in leadership roles, saying, “Those leading each business are amazing, and they are responsible for helping everything move as smoothly as it does. There are a lot of long days at the office, but even the most challenging efforts are guided by capable hands.”  

As the digital advertising industry experiences a 21.8% growth in 2023, Coyne proves that his approach to innovation and risk-taking can lead to exceptional growth. ​​Starboard has not only transformed the way clients approach advertising, but it also showcases the fact that sometimes, the simplest strategies can be the most revolutionary.