Business Buzz – Direct Marketing

Leah LeMoineMarch 2018
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Phoenix ad executive Roger Hurni gives app algorithms a go with LighthousePE.

In 2014, Roger Hurni wrote a blog post positing digital marketing so specific that brands would be able to interact with consumers individually.

“I speculated that because everybody is moving to mobile, and because we have things like beacons and geofences coming out, if we can start to look at tying in other databases… [and] an algorithm that can score your brand loyalty, we can kind of mesh all that up together,” says Hurni, founder of integrated marketing agency Off Madison Ave. “It was pure science fiction.”

Four years later, it’s a reality. After hiring software engineers and coders, Hurni launched LighthousePE ( in 2016. They netted clients like the Arizona Office of Tourism (see App Corner, below) and Michigan’s Little River Indian Casino, who are using LighthousePE’s technology with existing apps to recommend tourist attractions or entice gamblers.

Instead of relying on “fairly elementary” push notifications, Hurni and the LighthousePE team approach it “in a much deeper way. I don’t have to just send you a coupon,” Hurni says. “It may make more sense to send you a human.” Geolocation can be used to notify businesses of customers’ arrivals and preferences. “I can send that to a third party… and have them interface with you in a way that heightens that level of experience and, quite frankly, treat you like a VIP.”

In a world where smartphone users willingly turn on location services, check in to establishments on social media and use GPS apps, will the privacy underpinnings of proximity marketing matter? Time will tell.
Hurni plans to increase his team of nine (seven additional employees double-dip with LPE and OMA) with more sales staff and a behavioral scientist to evolve the technology from machine-learning to ontology, or true artificial intelligence.


Under the Influence
Forbes predicts micro-influencers – non-celebrity social media mavens – will be big business in 2018. Susie Timm, president of Phoenix’s Knife & Fork Media Group, has worked with them locally and nationally. “They have a very loyal follower base who legitimately care about their opinions,” Timm says. Her top five local micro-influencers by sphere of influence:

Joanie Simon/The Bite Shot
“For quality photography tips and drool-worthy food photos, she’s the one to follow.”

Marlene Srdic
“She posts outfits almost daily, reviews products with her honest opinion and mixes in lots of cute kid photos.”

Melissa Stadler/Modern Honey
“I have worked with her to create recipes using clients’ gourmet products and I am consistently impressed.”

Cynthia Sassi
“Cynthia’s fitness posts are highly motivating… [she] keeps her followers very engaged.”

Christina Barrueta/Write On Rubee
“Her content is high quality and she gives a thoughtful review… She’s always first on my list [for clients’ events].”



photo courtesy Arizona Office of Tourism’s appGrand Canyon State Concierge
Using pioneering machine-learning technology from Phoenix tech startup LighthousePE (see above), the Arizona Office of Tourism’s new Visit Arizona app acts as a smartphone sherpa for tourists, newly minted Arizonans and seasoned State 48-ers. Activities, restaurants, museums, outdoor adventures and more are recommended specifically for you based on information you provide the app about your interests, location and the time of day. Imagine an interactive, customizable Yelp. The free app is available on iTunes and GooglePlay.

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