Digital Transformation of Outdoor Attracting New Advertisers

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Geopath President Kym Frank says the money that outdoor advertising industry put towards digital has reinvigorated the market by becoming more interactive and targeted. Meanwhile, the opportunity to measure the reach and effectiveness of outdoor has brought new relevance to the medium. Nonprofit Geopath had been known as the Traffic Audit Bureau for Media Measurement. Frank spoke with Street Fight about how this recent trend is playing out and what it means more marketers.

How is digital transformation taking shape in outdoor?
There’s obviously been an increase in the amount of digital inventory — not just units that have gone up across the country, but also different inventory types. We have a lot of roadside inventory that’s been converted from printed inventory, or static inventory as some people call it, to digital billboards. We also have an influx of a variety of new types of formats entering the scene. For instance, we have here in New York the LinkNYC units that are going up, helping to power a smart city. That will be increasing across the country.

We also have a number of digital networks that are operational now in locations like bars, malls, restaurants, and college universities. It’s this proliferation of screens on locations throughout the United States. There is also a digitization of the static inventory itself. While the screen is not digital, the analytics going on behind the scenes, the way that the process is happening where there’s transactions occurring—all of that is being digitized. We’ve made a massive investment as an industry in overhauling our measurement and analytics utilizing location data. Regardless of what is happening on the screen, if it’s digital or vinyl, the analytics going on in the background are using location data harnessed from mobile devices, GPS units, and connected cars to help advertisers make the best creative decisions and the best media decisions they can regardless of what is on the face of the inventory.

Regarding that location data, what is being collected and how precisely is it being used to understand the audience?
At Geopath, on behalf of the industry, we’re overhauling the industry’s currency in general utilizing multiple data sources. Our primary local data is coming from aggregated carrier data, from cell phones, also using SDK data and connected car data. We’re aggregating that anonymously to help understand industry currency—how many impressions are being delivered, what are the demographics being exposed to those impressions, what are the reach and frequency of a campaign across multiple different provider.

On top of our core data set, our members are doing new work that uses their own data source. There’s a lot of work being done in attribution. Do we see a device passing an advertisement and then showing up in that retailer’s location? Tying those data sets to actual purchase data. Identifying exposed and unexposed devices and then leveraging surveys against those devices to understand if there was a lift in brand metrics, or if there was a lift in a purchase intent, or awareness of that brand or product.

On the attribution side, we’re really well-positioned for an offline channel to be utilizing attribution through mobile devices, given that was such a hyperlocal medium.

There is other work going on in terms of optimizing against specific audience targets. Some folks are utilizing enthusiast groups—did we see these devices in luxury shopping malls, or did we see these devices at sporting events? Then identifying advertisers who are interested in reaching those categories and being able to understand what the delivery of a piece of inventory is against those targets. So much like you would so on digital on the internet or on a mobile device. Something else that is happening with quite a number of our members, they’re utilizing mobile in conjunction with out-of-home inventory for a mobile amplification program where they’re selling both formats to advertisers and agencies through one provider. So a media owner, a billboard owner might also offer a geofencing solution that retargets mobile devices that it identified as passing that piece of inventory, then serving them up a coupon or ad at a later time. All of that ties into out-of-home really being all about location and less about the actual structure on which the ad is being delivered.

What is happening now that is really winning over advertisers with digital out-of-home? Was there a dynamic tonal shift and realization?
What is changing advertisers’ perceptions of our channel is the addition of so much analytics, real-time data, and understanding how a campaign is working. We’ve seen a huge influx of investment on the tech side in printed inventory—in vinyl billboards and static inventory. One out of four of the top advertising categories on our platform is coming from digital companies such as Google. Snapchat just did a huge campaign last year. It’s interesting that these tech and digital brands are choosing to advertise on non-digital, out-of-home inventory.

Something resonating with advertisers is the ability to serve dynamic creative based on trigger conditions. The digital inventory, both interior and exterior, can all have the creative changed very rapidly on the fly. Some people are tying that to things like search volume. We have one client who tied it to purchasing happening in a retail store nearby. Whatever were the hot items going that day they would dynamically serve creative related to those items.

It’s become such a flexible medium that it’s really drawing advertisers who may have overlooked out-of-home in the past to start consider the channel now.

Joao-Pierre Ruth is a Street Fight contributor.