With New Attribution Feature, Placed Can Tell Whether Your Billboard Is Hot or Not

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Location-based analytics provider Placed is keen on showing media agencies and advertisers that out-of-home (OOH) ads such as billboards can point the consumer in the right direction, literally — and ultimately lead them to an in-store visit.

The Seattle-based company announced this morning that via Placed Attribution, which the company unveiled back in July, it can bridge the gab between OOH ads (billboards) to physical store visitations.

By factoring in proximity, angle, distance, and direction, David Shim, founder and CEO of Placed, told Street Fight that the company can determine whether a consumer sees a billboard advertising an offline business and then does — or doesn’t go the advertised place (provided they are one of those opted-in to Placed Insights, the panel that rewards users with various types of points in exchange for their mobile location data).

“We can’t tell if a consumer actually registered the ad,” Shim clarified. “But we can tell if they are driving in the right direction. This is about viewability.”

This is very much the beginning phase of Placed’s OOH efforts — which Shim says the company’s partnered companies have been demanding. Advertisers want to know if billboards are still worth the spend and, if so, where.

“[OOH] is a core part of the media model, but it hasn’t been growing as fast as digital or mobile,” Shim said. “What you’re seeing in the last year is pushes to increase growth by making it more measurable.”

A number of media companies are on board with Placed for the new feature. Launch partners include Rapport, Horizon, Posterscope, and Kinetic along with media partners, Clear Channel Outdoor and National CineMedia.

“They’re focusing efforts around making that [OOH] media more measurable and highlighting it from an ROI perspective,” Shim said.


Placed can tell whether an opted-in consumer is driving toward or away from a billboard, a fact which reveals not only whether the ad is being passed, but whether it’s being seen in the first place by a driver or passenger. From there, Placed can detect whether that consumer’s mobile device visits the advertised business or not. Finally, the company can connect that data to measure any potential lift in in-store sales.

It’s a somewhat shaky method for determining the ROI for billboards. But even shaky is better than nothing, says Shim: “Billboards have been losing dollars to other channels because other channels can prove ROI so much better.”

Ideally, he says, media agencies and advertisers buying media on billboards will come away with a better understanding of surrounding real estate, along with other key criteria like size and placement.

“It’s not jut latitude and longitude, it’s the size of the billboard, the direction it’s facing, [et cetera],” said Shim. “A billboard on the freeway is much different then one next to a bus stop.”

What types of billboards are placed in specific areas matters hugely, Shim asserts, and this attribution system will further prove and clarify that importance.

“A place with a BMW [lot] could be a lot different than a place with a KIA,” Shim said.

The types of advertisers that stand to benefit most from this offering, at least in its early stages, are offline businesses with immediate offerings, like quick-serve restaurants.

“The performance is incredibly strong for QSRs,” said Shim. “People talk about targeting mobile ads when a consumer is near a QSR, and that is absolutely true. But if you’re hungry, and you see ‘Next Exit Taco Bell,’ you’re even more likely to convert because you don’t even have to open your phone.”

After all, cellphone activity and driving is a major no-no. The open road is the one place where consumers are still completely susceptible to billboards. Aside from radio, it’s the only type of ads that can reach them.

Ultimately, Shim sees this as another crucial cog in the media wheel — something core to the omni-channel strategy of any business with an offline offering.

“People want to know what is the performance of mobile, desktop, and OOH and what happens when a consumer sees all three? Do they see a lift in performance?”

Nicole Spector is a contributor to Street Fight.