Years ago, as I began a career in advertising sales, an older friend advised me to work with the smartest people I could find and to be sure I was selling a product people wanted. Over the years, I made the mistake of ignoring some of that advice, thinking that once I demonstrated how wonderful my product was, that of course I could convince people to want it. How silly of me.
I represented truly great products at entirely the wrong times. Geo-targeted online in the year 2000 (before people even knew they needed digital, let alone targeted digital). Household addressable television in 2009 (before national brands and agencies could buy it at scale -- or understood it). And interactive TV after that, because by then, I’d grown accustomed to tilting at windmills.
Today, all three are standard items in a media buyer’s toolkit. Their time has come. When I was selling ‘em? Well, they were great products, with smart people building them. But selling them back then was swimming against the tide.
Since it’s now graduation season, with young people entering the business world and getting all kinds of advice, I want to share mine with those of you at the beginning of your media careers. The advice I got was right. Work with smart people. The product is important. And the four words I have for those aspiring to a media sales career today are Digital Out-of-Home.
Digital Out-of-Home’s time has come. Magna’s spring advertising forecast predicts that Out-of-Home (OOH) overall will be the only traditional medium to grow in 2018, led by Digital Out-of-Home and all of its data, audience targeting, video and other capabilities. More and more screens in the places people spend time need to be sold. And, with an assist from mobile and digital technology, even traditional static OOH executions are beginning to offer digital enhancements, like the ability to identify the audiences around them. It’s a fast moving and exciting industry.
With regard to those smart people, there are a lot of companies doing groundbreaking work with advertisers, sending just the right ads to just the right audiences and tracking and measuring their performance. Digital Out-of-Home encompasses everything from ads in movie theaters, elevators and street kiosks, to transit ads, giant outdoor displays and screens in neighborhood businesses. The companies involved need salespeople, marketers, designers, writers, engineers, researchers and just about every other type of person you can imagine.
Over the past few years, membership in DPAA -- a global business accelerator and the trade marketing group for everything digital outside the home -- has more than quadrupled, and the companies involved in the organization are seeing tremendous growth.
At its recent spring member meeting, DPAA Chief Executive Barry Frey pointed out a number of reasons why the industry is booming: Television audiences are fragmenting, people are spending more time consuming media outside the home, ads on out-of-home screens are a haven from fraud and ad-skipping, and targeting and attribution capabilities on digital out-of-home ads are available at scale. Referencing the Magna report, audiences are growing, too.
Andy Sriubas, Chief Commercial Officer at Outfront Media, agrees. “Our industry is benefitting from good timing and new technology," he says. "Advertisers are looking for the benefits we offer. Digital Out-of-Home is efficient and effective. It has none of the downside of online in terms of fraud or viewability and all of the economic value winds at its back. We can do truly impactful and measurable work that audiences welcome. The media buying community sees that clearly. This is an exciting time to be working in Out-of-Home.”
Sam Olstein, Global Director of Innovation at GE, who presented at the meeting, said that his company used Digital Out-of-Home to promote a branded program appearing on traditional television and determined that the bulk of their audience became aware of the program because of those ads. He emphasized the opportunity for creativity, saying that Digital Out-of-Home is a “canvas” on which brands can express personality and add “story” to the spaces where people spend most of their time today.
Frey’s keynote and the buzz in the room underscored a marketplace that is even more action than it is talk. Other presenters at the invitation-only member event included businesses involved in programmatic advertising, a company integral to location-based marketing, a company that builds LED screens like the ones you would see in Times Square, even ones that let building owners transform storefront windows into digital experiences.
Marc Kidd, Chief Executive Officer of Captivate, and a member of DPAA’s Board of Directors, pointed out that as much as the industry is hungry for new graduates, experienced media professionals from other parts of the business are also flocking to, and welcome in, Digital Out-of-Home. This sentiment was echoed by Michael Lieberman, Co-CEO of Kinetic. “Events like this showcasing learning and networking demonstrate the breadth and power of the industry," he said. "This is where people want to be.”
The DPAA team also shared details of their “Lunch and Learn” meetings conducted at advertisers' and ad agency offices, designed to introduce media planners and clients to the types of firms in the space. Incidentally, the ad-tech and media buying sides of the media business also represent opportunities for graduates seeking rewarding careers. Media buyers and planners at agencies are often relatively young and urban, and the media they consume and believe in will naturally secure more of their investments. If suburban grandfathers were making decisions about media placement, I’d probably be advising recent graduates to look for jobs at newspapers.
But it’s those traditional tactics that are often still being taught at colleges. Blythe Bonan, a DPAA intern, and a junior at Texas Christian University, said that’s why she is excited to get experience in Digital Out-of-Home this summer. “I’d always seen digital screens in airports, and yes, there are a few at school, but most of my classes are about traditional types of marketing. Learning about all of these companies and everything they can do has been amazing.”
Frey (a board member at IRTS, an organization committed to building future media leaders) is offering a special student rate for this year’s DPAA Video Everywhere Summit in New York City on October 30. If you’re reading this article because there is a recent graduate in your household, registration -- and the chance to meet nearly a thousand media and ad agency executives, brand CMOs, and other industry leaders -- would make a great gift. If you’re the career-beginner, undecided about what part of the media business you’re interested in, please let me again liberally misquoteThe Graduate for you. Just four words. Digital Out-of-Home.
This article was originally published at MediaVillage - July 25, 2018
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