OOH Advertising Strategy is Evolving with Measurement Advances

OOH may appear to be the antithesis of the efficiency- and measurement-obsessed norms of the digital advertising era: one-to-many and not easily attributable. But the channel is evolving, becoming easier to measure and to strategize around thanks to technical breakthroughs.

Craig Benner, CEO and founder of Accretive Media, connected with Street Fight to explain where OOH measurement is today, where it is headed, and how OOH will evolve as a part of marketers’ mix.

How does measurement typically work for OOH?

Traditional OOH measurement is very limited. Advertisers had grown accustomed to making OOH a ‘vanity buy’ and merely measuring delivery and estimated reach/frequency as primary metrics. 

 As the industry has advanced, advertisers started using survey and sample-based approaches to help quantify impact; as this was all that was available. But this is still limited and normally commands tiny sample sizes with incomplete and sometimes misleading data. 

To grow, the industry needed a new way to show a proper linkage between OOH ad exposure and business results, and that’s what Accretive Outcomes was built to accomplish — inclusive of all OOH screen types, formats, and platforms. 

What would you say are some of the major problems in OOH, regarding measurement and anything else?

To me, measurement was the biggest one, as everything flows from there. Virtually every brand we talk to has said that access to accurate measurement has been an obstacle to increasing their spend in the out-of-home channel. Brands want to be able to assign value to their OOH similar to other media. 

But most of the innovation in OOH has been centered around the buying and selling of the inventory, not measurement. When you focus all your attention on transactions, before accurately providing a way to assign value to those transactions (measurement), you make it easy to commoditize and disregard. 

This has created some division within the industry, as the establishment believes that programmatic and automated buying is a race to the bottom while the newer digital entrants believe that OOH should be purchased like an online display ad — that all screens are created equal. 

OOH is unique and has proven that it is highly effective. Accretive Media focuses on showing how out-of-home drives a host of results through our technology and once advertisers see this, we help make it more accessible to grow across all formats. This is the natural order of things. Demonstrate the value of the channel first; then, democratize it everywhere. Focus on the why before the how.

What’s on the cutting edge of OOH marketing/attribution?

OOH measurement/attribution is a three-step process, each with its own nuance and challenges. 

The first step is the process of accurately capturing exposure data, which the industry has solved and standardized through OAAA-approved best practices. The second is linking exposure to online and physical identity, which our Out-of-Home Graph has solved. The third is linking identity to a variety of different outcomes. 

We started by providing web visitation, app downloads, foot traffic, ROAS, and offline sales, but we’re just scratching the surface. There is so much on offer here, so we’re excited to explore new ways to show how advertisers can use these ads to drive their businesses forward.  

Accretive Media’s simple thesis in 2018 was “We think out-of-home advertising has always performed great for brands; we’ve just never been able to prove it. If we satisfactorily prove it, our brand partners will grow, the channel will grow, and we’ll all win together.” 

The cutting edge is using the physical world and OOH exactly like you used digital, to help brands create meaningful connections with consumers. That’s the promise.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018 and compiled the daily newsletter since 2016. Joe is a journalist who has written widely about technology, business, and politics. You can contact him at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.