Adshel’s Steve Geelan: The Future Of Out-Of-Home Now

Adshel’s Steve Geelan: The Future Of Out-Of-Home Now
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In this guest post, Adshel’s head of platform sales, Steve Geelan, says programmatic (when someone managed to get it right) will be the final piece in out of home’s digital puzzle….

Recently I attended the Rubicon Automation Summit and had the privilege of hosting a round table of great discussion on the potential automation brings to out-of-home. The day was filled with a quality and broad line up of speakers and panels with topics ranging from answering the ongoing challenge of brand safety and ad fraud to what header bidding has done and will continue to do to evolve the ad tech supply/demand ecosystem.

What I enjoyed most about the day though was the breadth of topics and indeed conversations. Digital out-of-home was called out regularly in regard to the opportunity of automation and of particular note was the depth of discussion around programmatic digital audio.

It did not escape me that whilst the journey has most definitely begun to bring automation to out-of-home, we are still at an early stage and the journey of programmatic digital audio has much to teach.

Particularly exciting also was how the potential of audio and location were called out on the day. The ability to know someone is listening and where they are listening, and communicate with that user across both a visual and audio mechanism is powerful. It is clear that the mechanism to truly bring that opportunity to life is programmatic.

Not that I believe out-of-home needs a further WHY? As to why go down the automated/programmatic path? Simply put, it allows us to be able to do what hasn’t been possible before. More tightly defining and targeting the content being displayed at key moments and locations to an audience that we know more about than ever.

So what’s critical on this journey for out-of-home‘s path to programmatic?

Firstly it is understanding that it involves a substantial shift in behaviours, trading models and internal tech capabilities. It is shifting the currency from packs and weeks to delivering impressions against audiences.

Once that is understood it is then about the steps taken to allow advertisers to buy out-of-home inventory in a way they haven’t been able to before, support those times/day/locations with data that allows a deeper understanding of the audience at that location at that time and putting the right platforms in place that enable this to happen.

These pieces of the puzzle consume most of my days but the pieces that were brought to the forefront at the summit for me recently were around the role out-of-home plays in x-media buys and specifically the potential programmatic out-of-home brings to x-media retargeting (knowing someone saw an out-of-home execution and being able to retarget that person via digital audio, for example) and then how will it be measured or rather what will digital-out-of-home be measured against?

There was a really interesting panel on programmatic digital audio and one comment in particular highlighted the measurement question – a client, on running its first programmatic digital audio campaign, immediately asked for metrics comparable to that which they normally receive in their online video buys…not metrics comparable to radio buys.

My thoughts on this turned to what needs to be an out-of-home industry approach to future measurement (in particular for digital-out-of-home) and, where possible, standardisation.

As for the potential of location and audio, indeed location and (insert media here) – I don’t think we have got a true hold of the opportunity here and I’m not sure why, maybe just timing. Location and the infrastructure at that location can and will play a valuable role in understanding the user at a moment in time and where at that time.  Whilst we’re expecting a big change here in Australia with Amazon’s arrival, reports in the US still claim that 90% of all purchases are made in-store. With this in mind, understanding physical location and the ability to impact path to purchase utilising x-media retargeting enabled by greater knowledge of the user in the physical world (a critical part of the audience identity graph) has huge potential but requires deeper level partnerships and understanding. There is no doubt some way to go but there are certain things I am convinced on –

  • Taking the brave decision to further open up inventory and support it with improving audience data will lead to more value and better targeting for advertisers.
  • Beacons and/or geo-fencing, the extent of out-of-home’s network and in-store audience understanding have a great deal of potential that I don’t feel have been fully understood or explored.
  • There are some things that need an industry led approach, not least measurement. Less about measurement now and more about measurement next.

Finally, whilst data will enrich and platforms will enable, success for digital as a channel in out-of-home will come down to classic marketing principles – scale and engagement. Without those, we run the risk of it being a costly exercise that promises much to begin with but fails to deliver. It is crucial that we don’t lose sight of what’s most important and that is value for the customer.

The future of out-of-home may not be right here and now, but it’s definitely going to be an exciting journey.

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Adshel Steve Geelan

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