A New Route to Roadside Attractions: Programmatic Out of Home

By E.B. Moss Out of Home, Into Media Archives

In a previous column, Wade Rifkin, Senior Vice President Programmatic, Clear Channel Outdoor Advertising (CCOA), who just announced the first Private Marketplace for programmatic outdoor in the U.S., described the terms, evolution and impact of this new approach to buying and selling. Here, Wade (pictured below) answers questions about fraud, best practices and the programmatic future for out of home (OOH).

E.B. Moss: Do historical concerns about fraud and accuracy in programmatic apply?

Wade Rifkin: Fraud is definitely a serious topic. The potential for fraud in DOOH would really only be through hackers vying for space on our boards, which we prevent with a robust firewall. So we're not subject to the same bots and fraudsters that settle into the display and video eco-system. We foresee our medium resisting fraud challenges for some time, at least until self-driving cars take over!

E.B.: What creative assets can be delivered?

Wade: Creative is a major opportunity for us to play in in the programmatic eco-system.  There is a massive white space in the top of the funnel with programmatic and OOH can slot in nicely ... with those large formats, the static digital assets we offer on roadsides, but also video assets in our airport footprint.

E.B.:  Do you envision this being the 20th century version of the Burma Shave billboards?

Wade: I don't know if I'm familiar with them …

E.B.: They were sponsored billboards in the 1930-50s that offered kitsch y, often safe-driving verses spaced every hundred feet or so, as a sequential story. For example: "Don't take / a curve / At 60 per. / We hate to lose / a customer. / Burma-Shave" or "Our fortune / is your / shaven face. / It's our best / advertising space. / Burma-Shave."

Wade:  Ah! Well, I'd say sequential creative in programmatic is more down the road. I do think the macro point of storytelling is delivered upon today, though, via the integration of DOOH.  Frankly, I'm excited to see it come to life for advertisers -- being able to understand how to unfold the creative narrative and to do that now across mobile, desktop and DOOH.

E.B.:  Do you think there's going to be a long ramp-up time needed for creatives to understand programmatic digital OOH?

Wade:  We don't think so.  You can make [the assets] more specific for geography or time of day, but it's the same format. It's just a new means of transacting against that board.

E.B.  So, we're not at the point where, say, the board will change when it knows I've passed by with my device.

Wade:  Not yet! But there's still a lot that's being done in one-to-many with data relevant to the profile of the groups of individuals passing by roadside boards or visiting the airports where we have a presence.

E.B.:  What kinds of clients would benefit most in using programmatic out of home?

Wade:  Anyone that's buying OOH today could have a use case for programmatic. Matilda the Musical -- a show in the entertainment vertical -- jumped at the chance to be first to market, along with a finance advertiser and travel campaign.

E.B.:  Are 100% of your boards allocated to programmatic?

Wade:  It's a smaller subset of the inventory. We did that purposefully so the current inventory is valuable to these early stage partners and achieving their goals. We haven't hard-limited it from a business perspective though, so we're open to scaling it as our partners wish.

E.B.:  You're working with multiple DSPs?

Wade:  Yes -- Rubicon Project, MediaMath and TubeMogul all tested with us in Q4 [three more for Beta phase will include Adelphic, Simpli.fi and DataXu] because agencies have their own preferences and a need to have their data sets accommodated.

E.B.:  So it seems like OOH programmatic goes well with all forms of programmatic overall.

Wade:  One critical difference is the one-to-many nature of the medium.  But something that's core to programmatic and mobile is the availability of a cookie or a device i.d., which we don't have, so we've surfaced our own identifier of sorts: the latitude and longitude of the programmatic boards. ...Buyers can use that granular geo signal to cross-walk and translate that DOOH or the potential of desktop and for mobile with that sequencing, or the storytelling we mentioned.

E.B.:  Is there any opportunity yet for any engagement with boards?

Wade:  Yes, more so at airports. There are different calls to action and technology that can be used to interact with the screen because it's at eye-level or a walkway-type environment.  We can advise based on our experience on which will be most relevant.

E.B.:  How do you measure your own success?

Wade:  Making sure we have the right number and diversity of partners for this test, and making sure we refine it to work for the spectrum of partners so that our partners feel this is successful for them.

E.B.:  What's new and next for the industry down the road?

Wade:  We're trying to stay grounded in the near term because we still need to build value for what's important for our buy-side partners in 2017 and manicuring our roadmap for them.

E.B.:  Great, but now put on your sci-fi hat for me.

Wade:  If I had to guess, the interconnectivity of mobile OOH is going to continue to deepen, both from a targeting and measurement perspective. The gap in OOH has been the insight into who the person is viewing the board and what they do after they see that board. That's what we're striving to improve against -- and, in a respectful way to the consumer, tying that to the brand impact and the consumer's more downstream actions.

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