Media Marketing Guide 2010

Your Media Questions Answered: Out of Home

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MLB: TBS gave New York City commuters an interactive look at its Major League Baseball coverage with these fully wrapped subway cars.
MLB: TBS gave New York City commuters an interactive look at its Major League Baseball coverage with these fully wrapped subway cars.
What's new with outdoor ads, and what's this digital out-of-home I keep hearing about?

There's a lot more to outdoor these days than just billboards. Although traditional outdoor is in the midst of its first quarterly rebound since 2008, growing 3.6% to $1.9 billion in second quarter 2010, its video-based counterpart is picking up some major steam, too. Digital out-of-home is any place-based video screen where consumers can view unique content and ads, from grocery stores to taxicabs to gas stations and all locations in between. PQ Media valued the sector's size at $1.8 billion in 2009 (compared to traditional outdoor's $5.9 billion), while Veronis Suhler Stevenson pegged it closer to $2.5 billion once in-cinema ads and digital billboard were factored in. Organizations like the Outdoor Advertising Association of America and Digital Place-based Advertising Association continue to monitor the revenues and trends of each industry.

Why use out-of-home in my media mix?

TARGET: Target became a bit of a basket case for these CBS Outdoor bus shelters to promote its expanded grocery department.
As the advent of mobile and app-based advertising makes everything about location, outdoor ads are trying to play an integrated part in contextually relevant campaigns. Witness Clear Channel's recent rollout of dynamic digital partnerships with advertisers like E! News and the Los Angeles Times, which each used billboards to broadcast real-time headlines to drive traffic to their respective newscast and websites. More recently, Baton Rouge-based Lamar Advertising held a pro-bono campaign alerting consumers along the Gulf Coast to a toll-free hotline to report fraudulent claims associated with the oil-spill recovery. Time-sensitive marketers like retailers, local political races and movie studios have also upped their investment in the medium this year to ensure their ads get seen in time -- in many cases a strategic shift away from TV dollars, as more and more ads get skipped by DVRs.

Why are there so many screens everywhere? What could I possibly want to watch at the gas station or the coffee shop?

Programming the millions of screens that have cropped up in every imaginable location has been no easy task. But companies like IndoorDirect, Gas Station TV and Reach Media Group are seeking to change that, with key partnerships with publishers like MTV, The New York Times and others to keep consumers engaged in the most remote locations. Über-producer Mark Burnett recently partnered with independent production company Vimby to develop original content for out-of-home screens, while Starbucks just announced the addition of content from iTunes, SnagFilms, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and other partners to its in-store digital network later this fall.

How do you measure outdoor ads these days?

The Traffic Audit Bureau unveiled its revamped Eyes On metrics, equating the audiences for billboards and street furniture to other media for the first time. For digital out-of-home, Nielsen just rolled out its first quarterly report on the medium, the Fourth Screen Network Audience Report, tabulating total impressions and audiences for leading video networks like National CineMedia, Screenvision, Premiere Retail Networks, Reach Media Group and Zoom Media & Marketing. The DPAA also continues to work with the industry to develop guidelines and best practices for digital out-of-home buying and selling.

Andrew Hampp covers cable TV, out of home and radio.
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