Clear Channel's Jarvis Takes Measure of Outdoor

Chief of Research to Spearhead Move Toward Better Measurement

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The former mom-and-pop industry known as outdoor is growing up thanks both to consolidation and advertisers’ demands for better measurement and accountability. The Outdoor Advertising Association of America announced U.S. outdoor revenue grew 8% in 2005 and is expected to continue along a similarly robust path over the next several years as a better audience measurement system is introduced. Guiding Clear Channel Outdoor through that transition will be ad industry veteran Tony Jarvis, who last month was appointed the company’s chief of research.
Tony Jarvis, outdoors with a friend.

Mr. Jarvis is a familiar face in media research, having spent time at Infinity Broadcasting, MediaCom and, before that, Millward Brown. For Mr. Jarvis, the new job is the perfect intersection of his passion for both outdoor and research -- almost four years ago, he co-authored the first global guidelines on outdoor audience measurement.

MediaWorks: Historically, outdoor hasn’t been big on research. Why are we seeing more investment in this area now?

Tony Jarvis: It’s pretty basic, really. All media have to provide the metrics and therefore the accountability to advertisers and agencies to compete in a more competitive and fragmented world. Out of home hasn’t been at the forefront of that, but I’d like to suggest that it will move from the back of the pack to the front of the pack. ... We’re going to go beyond demographics and ratings with VACs -- visibility adjusted contacts. We’ll be delivering likelihood to see or what I call “eyes on,” rather than opportunities to see, which is what other media measures -- you don’t know if they were actually watching the TV or listening to the ad on the radio. It’ll be a higher measure and one that’s more meaningful to the client since they’ll know the creative has been seen.

MediaWorks: How does the U.S. compare to other international markets in terms of out of home research?

Mr. Jarvis: I’ll get a better handle the more time I spend on the job, but there’s no question America was really behind several other countries. Britain’s outdoor industry in roughly 1998 had about 4% or 5% share of ad dollars and last year it was just shy of 10%. A piece of that unquestionably was bringing in audience measurement that was comparable to other media. And if you turn that around, it provided agencies with comparable data so they could look at out of home in the mix. But with the initiatives planned through the Traffic Audit Bureau -- think the Audit Bureau of Circulations for the outdoor industry -- America will play its role in raising the bar worldwide.

MediaWorks: What can we expect to see in the next year?

Mr. Jarvis: The VACs will be out later this year or early next year and then we’ll be launching audience data for all markets across America. In those countries that have audience measures and VACs, we’ll probably see a refinement of the measurement system. We’ll need to add a way to measure mobile media and other formats. Then look at the rich and exciting digital outdoor space that’s coming fast. That’ll add another dimension to the measurement conundrum. Today we’re dealing with space, tomorrow it can be time and space and then time, space and interactivity, thanks to technologies like Blue Tooth.

MediaWorks: Some have predicted out of home would be the medium on which to execute the first major global ad buy. What kind of consistency do you need globally on the research side?

Mr. Jarvis: We’re going to do it right. We’re looking to work with many, many different companies in taking what will be a global approach. I can sit down with my colleagues at Clear Channel and the other outdoor companies and come up with best practices and guidelines with how ideally we should do outdoor measurement. But that won’t work in every country because they don’t have all the pieces or there are marketing issues or competitive situations with other media. So you have to take a global approach to best practices but apply them country by country and then do what you can with the resources you have available.

MediaWorks: Has consolidation made these ambitious research projects easier?

Mr. Jarvis: It certainly provides an opportunity because we don’t have to get 400-odd companies together. Consolidation in this case is key. There are really only three major players worldwide, with due respect to the players in U.S. But the U.S. is big and those players will certainly play a role in global outdoor measurement.

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