Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau Launches

Captivate Network President Mike DiFranza Leading Charge

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Now that out-of-home is expanding into an $8 billion industry that stretches far beyond billboards, it was only a matter of time before interests among the myriad players diverged. Enter the Out-Of-Home Video Advertising Bureau, which opened up shop this week to start educating agencies and advertisers about screens outside the home.
Captivate Networks puts TV screen in elevators -- a very different business than stickers on fruit.
Captivate Networks puts TV screen in elevators -- a very different business than stickers on fruit.

Promoting via elevators
The bureau's chairman, Mike DiFranza, is using his day job as president-general manager of Captivate Networks, Gannett's office-elevator-based video-news provider, to help spread the word via elevator ads. The ads announce his bureau's foundation and the role it can play in helping potential clients thrive in the outdoor space.

Why a bureau for out-of-home video players? "It's certainly not for lack of having things to do," Mr. DiFranza joked.

While attending board meetings for the Outdoor Association of Advertising in America, Mr. DiFranza was never sure where his more niche-based organization fit into the larger picture of the industry. "When you looked around the table at the alternative-media council, you'd see everything from Captivate to logos on pizza boxes to stickers on fruit. It was a pretty broad array of executions," he said.

Time was right
It wasn't until he had a discussion with his peer group in the narrowcasting space that he decided the time was right for an organization dedicated to his medium. Eventually, he and nine of his fellow video advertisers -- including members from Reactrix, Adspace and Premier Retail Network -- developed a working set of criteria to distinguish the OVAB's members and create a more concrete representation of their industry.

"Our goal is to provide a one-stop shop, meaning our website, where any agency planner can go to learn about any out-of-home options they have available to them," Mr. DiFranza said. "They know the big guys like Captivate and PRN who've spent a lot of money building our brand over the years, but they may find a number of options available to them they've never even had."

President sought
The website will be launched once the group finalizes its membership, which will also include a president. The board is currently searching for someone to lead efforts to educate the market on one of the ad industry's most diverse and misunderstood technologies. Mr. DiFranza cited an example of a Canadian bank's sales team that used out-of-home video technology to cut down on travel expenses -- instead of visiting each individual bank location, the company simply put messages on the branches' elevator TV networks.

"They weren't just buying media spots, they were using this network for a very specific reason and used it as solution. If you try to commoditize it, you lose that," he said.

Mr. DiFranza hopes the OVAB will one day become just another part of the media landscape, but in the meantime it doesn't hurt to put a stake in the ground, he said. "We haven't invented anything here. There's the Cable Ad Bureau, the OAAA [Outdoor Advertising Association of America] and the RAB [Radio Advertising Bureau]. We just felt our sector of the industry is maturing at such a great pace we needed to create some structure."
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