Chris Gadek is VP of Growth at AdQuick and an early-stage startup growth leader with a focus on ROI & tracking marketing programs.
When people talk about “out-of-home” (OOH) in the most general sense of the term, it can mean a lot of different things. Aside from the fact that OOH media pretty much encompasses anything in the physical world that can be used as an advertising canvas — from massive billboards to wall-scapes to street art — there are also a number of different platforms and players, including a diverse sea of media owners, that can make the total out-of-home media landscape confusing for even the most seasoned advertisers.
And because the out-of-home media ecosystem is filled with so many moving parts, figuring out how to plan, buy and execute successful OOH advertising campaigns is also time-consuming. Oftentimes, depending on what kind of media units you choose — whether it’s digital, static, programmatic or direct-buy — you ultimately have no choice but to work with a flurry of different partners to ensure your campaigns go off without a hitch. This means that OOH advertising operates within a complicated and complex ecosystem.
So to help you get your sea (aka, OOH) legs, read on for a quick and easy snapshot of what the broader out-of-home media ecosystem looks like, as well as a few tips on how you can navigate its many ins and outs.
Who Are The Key OOH Media Ecosystem Players?
There are a lot of players in the OOH advertising media landscape, but at a high level, you can break the out-of-home media landscape into two primary “operating” components: the supply-side and the demand-side.
What Does The Supply-Side Of OOH Advertising Look Like?
As the name suggests, this part of the equation involves the “sellers” and managers of OOH media. The key players here are:
• Media owners: These are the people and companies that have ownership over the various OOH ad units available across the entire media landscape. While you might think it’s easy or more scalable to just work with one of the “big three” in the United States — Lamar, Outfront Media and Clear Channel (AdQuick media partners) — there are so many other options and opportunities out there that can offer brands different and more varied kinds of value.
• Media inventory management solutions: Some media owners oversee only a handful of individual ad units, while others have thousands of assets. Managing all of this can get tedious fast. Media management solutions (full disclosure: my company offers one) can help media owners organize their OOH inventory to facilitate all aspects of the buying and selling process.
• Production companies: When you’re buying and placing static OOH media, you need to incorporate the costs and timing of producing those goods into your budgets and timelines. Finding the right vendor to print and deliver the creative on vinyl is one of the most important parts of pushing your campaign live.
You’ve also got to take installation into account, though this is typically handled and contracted out by the media owners themselves. Finally, if you work with creative or media agencies to develop, plan and schedule your OOH advertising campaigns, many of these tasks will be managed for you –– at a cost.
What Does The Demand-Side Of OOH Advertising Look Like?
Also known as the “buy” side of the out-of-home media ecosystem, these are the people and companies purchasing OOH ads. Most typically, either brands do the buying themselves, or they work with media agencies to get their OOH advertising campaigns up and running.
In the past, OOH media buying was incredibly manual; you would have to reach out to each individual media owner separately to get pricing, availability and other details about a specific placement. This was very time-consuming and, even worse, often lacked a tremendous amount of transparency. You simply didn’t know whether you were getting a great deal or getting ripped off because it was difficult to objectively evaluate one out-of-home opportunity against another.
As the VP of growth at a company that offers OOH advertising and analytics solutions, I’ve found that a lot of that has changed today. With OOH ad-buying platforms, there is now an easy way to automate the entire planning and buying process — for both traditional and digital OOH ads. Several tools offer a central place where you can do it all through the lens of timely data and insights that can boost confidence around your OOH ad buys.
A Quick Word About Measurement
As the OOH media space has evolved, data, analytics and all other sorts of performance measurement have become central to how brands plan, evaluate, buy and measure their OOH advertising campaigns today.
From data providers like SafeGraph to measurement solutions like Geopath, Nielsen and AdQuick, there is a new and much more sophisticated layer of data intelligence swirling around the out-of-home media ecosystem.
When evaluating these solutions, advertisers should consider the kinds of conversion events that are most meaningful to their business. For example, do you need the ability to directly attribute online conversions and e-commerce revenue? Or do offline conversions (like brick-and-mortar store visitation) matter more for your business? Or do you want both?
Also consider the type of measurement capabilities you require based on your measurement goals. Do you primarily want to optimize your OOH campaigns in order to improve performance (through OOH attribution analysis), or would you like to “prove” that your OOH campaigns work? While attribution analysis can be incredibly effective in helping you improve outcomes, measuring true ROI requires you to conduct controlled experiments like lift analysis.
Multiple factors come into play when you’re evaluating measurement providers –– from features and functionality to budget –– but investing the time and resources into developing a thoughtful measurement plan at the beginning of your campaign can pay real dividends in the end.
Maximizing Out-Of-Home Gain
If there are only two things that you take away from reading this, they should be:
1. The out-of-home media landscape is complicated and involves a lot of key players.
2. There are a number of technological solutions that offer a better way to plan, assess, buy, manage, track and measure OOH advertising campaigns.
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Chris Gadek is VP of Growth at AdQuick and an early-stage startup growth leader with a focus on ROI & tracking marketing programs. Read Chris Gadeks full executive