For years, OOH media has been perceived as playing 'second fiddle' to other media types which have been researched and validated via TAMS, RAMS etc. What this means is that media such as TV, radio and print can objectively assessed (both pre- and post-campaign) to validate not only their efficacy in the campaign but also to easily justify their inclusion.
Simplistically, if the research data shows that a marketer needs to reach a significant portion of a target audience over a period of time then the advertiser needs to spend X Rands in order to do so. As an advertiser, the 'facts' are there for you to live by. So, historically, if the norm is that an advertiser typically needs X amount of AR's for a ‘successful’ media campaign then all they have to do is ensure that they allocate/spend the requisite amount of budget on the best media offerings in that media category. Job done, you’ve ticked the required boxes as a marketer and your boss is happy…
Sadly, the OOH industry does not have any real audience measurement system by which to make comparable industry media decisions even though it has been contributing to AMPS. It for this reason that OOH can sometimes become an 'add-on' onto media schedules. As an industry it doesn’t have any way of making a marketer feel comfortable that they have firstly, reached their desired audience, and secondly, in a measurable way.
Driven by the desire for Outdoor (and ultimately OOH) to get a fair slice of the ad spend pie, Continental and Primedia Outdoor have initiated an industry research project in order for Outdoor to be more scientifically evaluated. To date seven major media owners have indicated that they will be actively involved in the funding of this project with smaller media owners sure to follow once the real benefits begin to be experienced by the industry. From the outset it is hoped that the vast majority of billboard sites will be included in the research data base via these seven media owners.
So what is currently happening then?
Basically, the industry wants a measurement tool for all OOH (initially just billboards) inventory to be considered given people’s movements as well as their demographics and psychographics. There are three steps involved:
All billboard media owners who contribute to the research project will have their sites loaded onto the new planning system so that all the relevant information relating to the billboard (cost, size, availability and viewer metrics) can be determined.
2.Understanding consumer's movements with regard to billboards:
The process of understanding people's movements was formulated by Cuende Infometrics, a Spanish OOH research company which is considered one of the leaders in OOH audience measurement in Europe. This means that data will be collated from real time GPS units (Tom Tom units and the like) and real time satellite photos to accurately determine traffic counts, their directional flow and audience. Billboard visibility zones will then be determined to give a far more accurate count of the true 'Opportunity to See' (OTS) relative to each of the billboards. This will generate reach and frequency metrics for each billboard. Combined with TGI, this data will give unique stats for each billboard.
3. People's Demographics and Psychographics
Independent research houses Ask Afrika and TGI have been commissioned to provide this essential information regarding commuters and where necessary, pedestrians. Terry Murphy from Primedia Outdoor states, "This partnership will provide a good basis for the new Outdoor currency measure in addition to providing a rich and trendable data source for all consumer media and brands. Partnering with TGI offers multiple benefits on its own, as TGI is an established and credible industry-wide research survey." So, we will have reliable data pertaining to who is likely to see/read these billboards.
The research is currently in the pilot stage and after testing of the system, it could well go live before year end once the data has been incorporated into the Telmar Planning system.
So soon it could well be possible for a buyer to input a client's requested target audience, geographic coverage, campaign duration, and budget and to receive a generated and optimised media schedule, all without even looking at one site photograph!
Terry adds that this system would mean OOH would be "just like any other media". She also said it was one of the most groundbreaking things to happen to OOH. "OOH is evolving and it needs a currency that is credible and comparable to other mediums."
So, is it "hello" to programmatic buying for Outdoor in 2015?
Could this automated system for buying billboards be Nirvana for some and the death knell for outdoor buyers like me?
Which brings me back to my original question, "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 54?"