LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- When Delta Airlines wanted to reach business travelers just in the New York area last spring, it decided to test the idea of microtargeting with place-based media. So it teamed up with out-of-home vertical SeeSaw Networks to create multiple 15-second spots customized to a wide array of venues across five different digital out-of-home vendors.
Cafes from Reach Media Group's Danoo, ferry terminals from Affiniti Group Media, Pump Top TV's gas stations in the New Jersey and Connecticut areas and health clubs on the Netpulse and When networks were all included in the plan, complementing similarly targeted ads in New York-based print and digital media.
Although business travelers in a single market like New York may ultimately amount to a relatively small audience, the campaign represented one of the biggest digital out-of-home outlays to date from a client at Digitas, Publicis' digital media agency that recently branched out into the emerging outdoor medium.
"We wanted to specifically understand how place-based media worked as a separate piece of the entire puzzle," said Pat Connolly, VP-group director at Digitas. "When you're trying to target a very specific niche, we wanted to try a whole lifestyle marketing, 360-degree approach that reached our specific target with messaging at any part of the day."
Based on Edison research of the campaign's out-of-home elements, place-based networks did a lot of heavy lifting for the Delta buy. Awareness of Delta as an international carrier among business travelers increased by more than 28%, while the perception of the airline as a connection to those travelers most-desired international destinations lifted by 26%. Thirty-two percent of the people who noticed the screens fit Delta's upper-income consumer target, or seven times the national average index.
Mr. Connolly would like to see even more granular measurement and campaign flexibility from out-of-home networks in the future, much in the same way the agency already buys web portals like MSN and Google. But the early results are enough to help him convince other clients of digital out-of-home' general efficacy. "We recognize it's not necessarily at the point where networks have caught up with the web's ability to offer real-time optimization, but we all have to collectively have an understanding of where the technology's going," he said. "Step one is to buy these networks at scale, which historically just isn't realistic."
Indeed, in the case of Schering-Plough's $8 million to $10 million out-of-home buy for brands like Claritin and Dr. Scholl's, the pharma marketer had to place a buy across 17 different networks to replicate the reach of TV. But as the industry continues to partner and consolidate, witness recent mergers like Reach Media's Danoo and Ideacast as well as Premier Retail Network's recent casual-dining partnership with IndoorDirect and TargetCast, the vertical ad-buying opportunities will bear more fruit in the coming months.
Peter Bowen, CEO of SeeSaw Networks, has positioned his network as an aggregator of the often wildly disparate opportunities in digital out-of-home, with a database that includes 75 networks and 100 million weekly gross impressions from consumers who frequent all types of retail, casual dining, transit and hospitality locations. "While geographic locations are important to agencies and advertisers, as we see companies like Digitas and Delta getting and using this media, it helps us identify what audiences we should be looking for," he said.