Rise of Out-of-Home Video Sparks Metrics Push

Individual Firms Take First Steps, but Creating System for Industry Is a Tall Order

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The digital out-of-home marketplace has seen rapid growth this year, from the formation of the Out-Of-Home Video Advertising Bureau in January to key players tripling their spending in a span of months.
Ideacast sells ads that appear on video screens in 800 health clubs.
Ideacast sells ads that appear on video screens in 800 health clubs.
Double-digit growth means it's time for organized metrics -- no easy feat for a market that includes everything from elevators to urinals.

PQ Media expects out-of-home-video spending to increase to $1.28 billion by the end of 2007 (up from $1.1 billion in 2006), with an additional $365 million for digital billboards and displays.

Working with Nielsen
One player who's taking the matter into his own hands is Jason Brown, president-sales and marketing for Ideacast and a recent OVAB member. Since his arrival in June, Mr. Brown has seen Ideacast's network of TV ads in health clubs expand to 800 venues and 140 markets this month from 180 venues and 54 markets in June. The expansion (not to mention active venture-capital interest) prompted Mr. Brown to look for a way to deliver accountable metrics for marketers. He's partnered with Nielsen to create his own measurement system.
Out of home video by the numbers
Market seeing influx of ad bucks
size of outdoor advertising industry in 2006, according to PQ Media

$1.275 BILLION
total predicted by PQ Media to be spent on out-of-home video advertising in 2007

amount predicted by PQ Media to be spent on digital billboards and displays in 2007

number of members expected to be enrolled in Out-Of-Home Video Advertising Bureau by year's end

"This industry has a lot of players, and there's about 700 different opportunities out there," Mr. Brown said. "Only 50 of them are worth looking at, and about 10 are really exciting. But in order to fit into reach and frequency systems, you have to be able to tell marketers who's watching and how many."

Another recent OVAB member, SeeSaw Networks, took the need for both reach and accountability in digital out of home one step further by creating a thorough network-buying system around the concept of "life pattern marketing." The program, available at SeeSawAds.com, allows out-of-home clients to access detailed awareness, audience and location stats on specific venues in every market, with the ability to drill down to specific genders and age categories. SeeSaw also works with its fellow vendors to aggregate impressions and bring enough markets onboard as a way to attract large package-goods marketers such as Procter & Gamble.

Educated decisions
"Large national advertisers don't want to be in a media that doesn't give them scale and impact in a marketplace that moves the needle," said Peter Bowen, SeeSaw founder-CEO. But those separate efforts don't really address the need for a system that would allow media buyers to easily compare different offerings. OVAB President Kim Norris said the board is expected to have nearly two dozen members by year's end and also has been meeting regularly with an agency advisory board comprising key industry players like Carat's David Verklin and Initiative CEO Alec Gerster to organize measurement and activity around the space even more.

"There's already a lot of research studies being done by individual companies, with Nielsen and Arbitron and others," she said. "But what we intend to do is really pull that all together with the research providers ... to collectively come up with the guidelines we would like to have speak for the industry."

Getting OVAB to a metrics system as both the board and industry grows is a detailed process, however, that involves creating a glossary of terms, building a website for members and clients and checking back with the agency advisory board. This could take until at least first-quarter 2008, but Ms. Norris said the system will look similar to Nielsen's TV ratings, since the majority of the metrics are impression-based.
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