The next phase of OOH: Smart billboards
A new set of tools lets billboards gather information on passersby
March 1, 2016
If there’s one thing media buyers and planners have long desired for out of home media it’s more in-depth measurement.
They want to know more than just how many people are seeing their advertisements. They want to know who exactly those people are – where they go, who they engage with, and what they buy.
And billboard owners see an opportunity in fulfilling that desire.
They hope that by providing more information on who’s seeing their boards, they can woo more advertisers. A number of them have been testing beacons and other devices that will help track this information.
On Monday, Clear Channel Outdoor Americas became one of the first to roll out the data to a broad audience.
The company has partnered with several companies on a new program called Radar, which will track travel patterns, behavior and other information of interest to advertisers by arming billboards with devices that tap into the data on mobile phones of passersby.
Media buyers and planners can then use that information to better target their campaigns, whether by finding the best location or tailoring the creative in a certain manner.
It’s a step beyond the basic demographic data currently offered by TAB ratings, and it comes at a time when measurement companies are under pressure to deliver better, more relevant information amid a sudden flood of big data availability.
“In the world of online they can track you with cookies, they know where you’ve been and where you’re going next. It’s almost the same thing in real life.”
Boidman says that over the past 18 months, a number of companies have been testing similar systems. CCO will likely be one of many to roll it out.
“They all have the technology in place and are continuing to test and are seeing very positive results,” he says.
“With the technology, whether it’s beacons or wifi tracking, you can see how many times somebody stands in front of a display.”
That’s the sort of in-depth information media people can use to plan campaigns. If someone keeps coming back to your display, you know it’s working. But if you’re seeing no returning traffic, you know you need to tweak it.
CCO will partner with AT&T Data Patterns, which collects subscriber information, PlaceIQ, which data mines devices to determine behavior patterns, and Placed, which can track ad exposure and purchases and link them together.
The ultimate aim, of course, is to be able to target consumers with ads for products they are most likely to buy. So if Radar has data showing that a consumer has cats and shops at a particular pet store, they may be shown an ad for cat litter on a billboard near that store.
Of course, this has the potential to inflame privacy advocates, who hate tracking of any type. CCO says the information is all anonymous and does not use any personal identifications.
But Boidman says the potential upside for advertisers far outweighs any potential drawbacks. He notes that they’ve gotten used to the same thing online.
“From a privacy standpoint, people are willing to give up information about themselves, as long as it’s aggregated and anonymous,” he says.
“They’re very comfortable [doing so] in order to get valuable information in return that’s going to help them. Our view is it’s the same thing online. Some people find it okay that they’re being tracked and certain targeted ads head their way.”
Radar is available now in CCO’s top 11 markets. The company plans to add other cities as the year progresses.’
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