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OOH Conference & Awards, Gurgaon, India 20th March, 2014
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - 5:19 PM

Exchange4Media OOH Conference Transcript – RON GRAHAM

I’d like to share some thoughts on the next opportunities which are emerging for place-based media. I have highlighted the word “next”, as with a diverse audience such as this, some of the themes presented will already be familiar. However, I believe as we develop the entire presentation there will be some useful next-level learning and actionable ideas for all of us.

For the longest time, outdoor advertising sites have been sold on location, In recent years however, the industry has been pushing the need to sell OOH media solutions based on audiences – which after all is what advertisers are seeking – and not locations. I even have an entire training module titled: “Audience – not real-estate”

Paradoxically, marketing focus is shifting back towards location. Location marketing is high on the agenda of most marketing professionals. Brands want to engage with audiences, wherever they are, seamlessly and regardless of device or platform. Location technologies and the data they generate are being used to do just that. OOH is in a prime situation to play a key role, by leveraging on location data. And this exactly the next opportunity for place based media.

Place-Based media is OOH and OOH is Place-Based media and I will make observations applying to all Out of Home media formats and situations. Every sign or display, static or digital, exists in a certain physical place and in the case of Digital OOH, the location likely has its own IP address.

For the longest time, OOH has been an after-thought in the media plan largely due to the gap in measurement data and unanswered questions about ROI. Brands don’t view OOH as vital whereas online, social, mobile, search and other digital media strategies are uppermost in the minds of the marketing team (and probably CEO’s too).

Location marketing can be a game changer and what is happening is putting place-based media right back into prominence. Locality information gives an added dimension to Place-Based media, to lift the value of the media beyond a simple list of inventory. Influencing customer interest by aligning media content with customer activity, attitude, emotions and to remind and amplify other marketing messages at the point of sale. Reinforcing the brand offering with product demonstrations and by on-selling customers while in the brand properties. As a call to action with ability to direct audiences to promotions and offers specific to venues, (such as electronic coupons). And for customer engagement with interaction, games, competitions, dialogue and response mechanisms.

Using locality in OOH strategies is a familiar and established practice. What is more exciting is the explosion of powerful location information, which can be leveraged by OOH.

OOH media can claim broad attributes of surrounding marketing areas or zones, such as census demographics. Even the most basic location information can help to identify concentrations of the desired target audience. We can plan campaigns by selecting place-based media within a certain radius from specific retailer or facility.  By using more detailed location data, we can narrow in on the target and it is now possible for OOH to define geo-fenced areas, and zoom in with locality specific communications. If media operators are not gathering and applying this more granular location data to their media selling, then they are missing an opportunity to add value and effect to the media.

Audiences can be defined by their locations, using past behaviour, or – depending on the technology deployed – we can also define people in real time and engage on the basis of what the audience is doing or interested in, right now. This raises the possibility for precision targeting by lifestyle and travel patterns and also by time of day.

Substantial location and audience data is available to us, yet so far only a few brands, agencies and media operators are collecting this data and applying it to place-based media campaigns. To make advantage of location data with the dynamic addition of time, the media displays and content management systems have to be real-time. Taking the next step, for optimum value, it would be necessary to have inventory management systems to make the data accessible as search criteria and to do media planning. Automated systems will make the data useful, speed up the timeframe from enquiry to buying and make OOH easier to plan and buy. Systems, improve accountability and growth and a single system could manage the inventory, sales proposal, media planning, interface between sellers & buyers, content management and reporting however it is more likely to have multiple systems that talk to each other.

When we have real-time display systems and content management, it opens up a lot of additional location and audience data possibilities such as face recognition. The idea of cameras on OOH display frames, using face recognition to gather audience and demographic estimates, is far from new technology. What is new however, is that face recognition has found its groove in terms of analysis. This technology is less about pushing specific content to specific audiences at specific times, but more about gathering insights (such as which creative message gains most attention) and providing accurate audience reach data.

Time to mention Mobile which is the big influencer for location marketing. Powerful data doesn’t change the fact that pushing commercial messages to a mobile phone is only achievable by gaining permission (and retaining consumer trust). Place-based media provides the invitation platform to pull audiences to engage online or on mobile. OOH has the ability to create relevant and effective engagement, to direct traffic online and to mobile, for interaction, search, social and even viral. OOH media amplifies consumer experiences from the virtual world and can be the final reminder and influencer at the point of sale.

Smartphones with built-in GPS capabilities have opened a new dimension for location marketing but location marketing is not restricted to the mobile world – which is precisely why OOH media can join the party. Perhaps we can coin a new phrase: OhSoLoMo.

With virtually everyone carrying mobile devices, constantly switched on, the embedded apps and location services are generating staggering volumes of data about consumers, linked with location data. Not only do we know where people are but we know an awful lot about them. It is possible to define their activities and interests at or near to a specific location.

Our personal devices can reveal aggregated and anonymous information – without any need for action or effort on our behalf. What happens next will be largely down to the levels of permission we have created (or failed to opt out of). By linking data about consumers, with locations, it makes the data richer and more relevant. Another dimension to location data, is the wealth of measurement possibilities.

Rapid growth in the field of location analytics is making it possible to apply the power of web-style analytics into the physical world. By leveraging connected mobile devices, Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth beacons and a handful of other technologies, location analytics companies can generate detailed location data very fast, and at relatively low cost. Companies like FourSquare are selling the location data they generate.

JCDecaux has just launched a smart content management system for digital screens at Tesco Supermarkets, which automatically chooses which ads to run and the frequency of display,  according to location data being generated at the stores.

The marriage of place-based media with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is one of the most exciting developments in location marketing. Apple’s endorsement of BLE, with their i-Beacons, heralds wider adoption and bodes well for place-based media. So why does BLE make DOOH so doable?

For example; a credit card loyalty and partnering program could use location marketing with a user App to search and direct you to partner businesses with offers for card holders. Place-based media could prompt customers to turn on the App and look for partner outlets by simply holding up the phone, find a restaurant & make a reservation. Digital place-based media could update them with latest offers or other contextual messaging. Conversely, trying to do this type of location marketing without an element of place-based media, will be less successful.

Improvements in location marketing means that whereas previous invitations often resulted in irrelevant or even annoying content, location data makes it much more likely that the invitation will be appropriate and of value to the viewer at that particular locality and time of day. By simply holding up and moving the phone we can search for outlets or deals. Interaction between mobile and location data will be much more likely to resonate with consumers, added to which offers can be redeemed instantly.

As we can also gather location data during and after the media campaign, by tagging the log-ins, tracking sales and achieved call to action in the vicinity, we can be assured of the ROI contribution from OOH media. The bottom line is more valuable & effective campaigns.

Location data provides additional prospects for digital OOH, with its scale and flexibility of content. For example – instant launch of campaigns, testing feedback in real-time and changing messages to react to opportunities like breaking news, weather or perhaps competitor activity.

Amscreen's thermal monitoring and geographic content targeting were used in Ford's latest campaign, on digital screens at petrol station forecourts, to run different content based on weather conditions. Each screen also displays the nearest dealer location within a 5-mile radius. Another example which springs to mind, is British Airways “look up” campaign. Communication ideas built around location-data can win the hearts, minds and wallets of people in places.

There are challenges for brands, agencies and the media promoters. How to source location data, and at what cost? Stakeholders will need to interpret the data, develop insights and craft integrated campaigns and strategies.

Location data is going to tell us that our ideal target audiences are only in certain localities for fractions of the day. This suggests the need for much more flexible media selling. OOH media sellers will face operational factors to incorporate location data in their services.

Also, who to sell to? Is it media agencies or will place-based media have to pitch to digital communication strategy agencies, or online media agencies and OOH may have to compete for online budgets

Privacy concerns will need to be addressed, especially with the emergence of Opt-out as the default. And finally scale – a fundamental value of place-based media – could be lost as we chase highly targeted engagement. All of these challenges are visible and being tested in real campaigns, with very positive results. The themes presented today aren’t pipe-dreams but are real, exciting, valuable and possible.

Consider the SONY PS4 launch last year which had an integrated campaign of TV, online, social and out of home, including digital screens in London, with different messages throughout the campaign; during the countdown, on the eve of the launch and then post launch. Somewhat prophetically – SONY encourages us to ‘see the future’.

In summary then – I see a future where place-based media gives advertisers, agencies and media operators more flexibility and creative possibilities to apply technology and so to improve customer engagement. A future where location data helps to ensure place-based media displays are more effective and valuable. A future where advertising is deployed at the right place and time with vastly improved performance and measurement. A future empowered by systems for content management, audience tracking, planning tools and perhaps automated trading platforms.

A future where place-based media is deserving more attention and greater consideration from brands and agencies. Integrated in the overall communication strategy from the outset…. not as an afterthought. And the future is now.

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