Growing Out-of-Home Video Through Better Metrics

Q&A: TruMedia's CEO George Murphy

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NEW YORK ( -- As DaimlerChrysler's former senior VP-global marketing, George Murphy was charged with reshaping the old-school auto manufacturer's brand message. Now the former auto marketer wants to do the same for out-of-home video advertising.
TruMedia Technologies CEO George Murphy
TruMedia Technologies CEO George Murphy

Mr. Murphy joined Tampa, Fla.-based out-of-home media measurement company TruMedia Technologies in January as its CEO, because he believes it's "a booming sector [with] a lot of consumer appeal and absolutely no measurement around it."

Mr. Murphy isn't exactly speaking in hyperbole. While out-of-home video advertising was estimated by PQ Media to take in $1.28 billion in spending in 2007, the emerging media sector did so with no standardized metrics for advertisers and agencies to buy it efficiently. The 18-month-old Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau is working with more than two dozen vendor and measurement partners (including Nielsen, Arbitron, Screenvision and CBS Outernet) to help create a universal measurement checklist for out-of-home media buyers. But even after the metrics receive official approval from the American Association of Advertisers and Agencies, they're not likely to be employed until early 2009.

That's why Mr. Murphy wants TruMedia to help fill the void for advertisers and agencies that are interested in out-of-home video but are skeptical about the lack of proven audience reach. "If you talk to buyers and planners, they're already working 24 hours a day to begin with. For them to try and piece together six or seven locations just so they can get a regional footprint, they're just not going to do it," Mr. Murphy said. "We need to make it easier to buy, make it easier to measure. Then you can bring a bigger demographic to digital signs."

MediaWorks spoke with Mr. Murphy recently about what attracted him to his new role, what he brings from his days at Chrysler and why better metrics for out-of-home media can't come fast enough.

MediaWorks: You spent nearly a decade as a top marketer in the auto industry, which has famously started shifting more dollars to online channels for more-efficient marketing transactions. What was the big draw in out-of-home?

George Murphy: Two things: More money was going there, and there's more growth in out-of-home media as opposed to in-home. [When I left DaimlerChrysler], the digital space was exploding, advertiser money was going there, and the points of digital signage had better content and made that medium more attractive. So when you step back and say amongst all the things lying around, what's holding it back from growing more extensively? When I was at DaimlerChrysler, we were all over measurement, and we were all looking for ROI and ways of justifying where we spend. This was a growing media space that lacked, to me, a core metric, which is measurement.

MediaWorks: So how do you position TruMedia's offerings at a time when Nielsen, Arbitron and the Traffic Audit Bureau can already offer advertisers similar measurement capabilities?

Mr. Murphy: As best as I know, Nielsen, Arbitron, TNS, all these big guys, they don't provide this service. Take a mall as an example. Both Nielsen and Arbitron can give you a lot of data that tells us a lot about consumers and demographics around the mall. Sometimes they can tell you how many people go through the door, but not all the time. When you want to get very specific, we can say, "Here's this kiosk, here's a piece of merchandising, here's someone's trying to advertise on it." We can then determine what the viewership is, the value of it in CPMs. When we talk to companies, they tell us they're buying information from Nielsen and buying from Arbitron and they would prefer to buy our services through them also. It only makes sense that we're the last yard. It should tie into the rest of the research advertisers are buying. It's not a conflict, it's a complement.

MediaWorks: Is that pitch gaining early traction with advertisers? Are they willing to make the investment in another third-party research firm in out-of-home media?

Mr. Murphy: It's been hot and cold, to be honest with you. Our original model was to sell the hardware, make it available to the larger networks out there, and I'd say most of the larger network groups out there have or are currently testing our system. But I'm getting a little anxious. The one thing that is going to slow us down a little bit -- even though we can measure total audience, do male-female and some age breaks -- is it's not clear how you monetize that data when you take it to the ad agency. There's no standard in the industry right now, and we really need that to get some of these guys to do much bigger deployment.

MediaWorks: What's your take on automotive as a category in terms of taking a leadership role in embracing new media? Do you see that category doing a lot with out-of-home video?

Mr. Murphy: We were probably the most aggressive of most industries in getting online. Because everybody shops online, you can actually follow somebody if they got to your site, look at the consumer through that whole buying process because you knew where they were. Out-of-home in the auto segment historically has been usually around product launches to generate awareness. They aggressively buy typical billboards as opposed to digital out-of-home. We didn't buy a lot of digital out-of-home because we couldn't get a big enough audience for a lot of the dollars we were going to throw at it. For those big-reach kind of spenders, it just doesn't give you that kind of broad coverage right now.

MediaWorks: Based on the progress groups like the TAB and OVAB have made in the last 18 months, how far away would you say we are from the tipping point in out-of-home video spending?

Mr. Murphy: The rollout [from the TAB and OVAB's new metrics] is going to be very slow. They want to walk before they run. I have a full head of hair, but it's gonna go gray while I'm waiting for those metrics. The idea of us working a little more aggressively with the Arbitrons and the Nielsens of the world to get more real-world examples out there is the best way to see metrics develop.
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