Intersection CEO Chris Grosso Says Out of Home Will Reign Supreme in the Cookieless Future

By Intersection InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Intersection CEO Chris Grosso Says Out of Home Will Reign Supreme in the Cookieless Future

Chris Grosso, the new Chief Executive Officer of Intersection, understands the role of urban out-of-home (OOH) as an important component to an advertising campaign. "[Intersection] is an experience-driven, out-of-home media and technology company focused on bringing programming, consumer amenities and data-driven advertising to cities," he explained. "We are aiming to elevate the urban experience for consumers and advertisers." His company, which reaches 15 of the largest cities in the U.S., offers a range of consumer services including free internet access (such as through LinkNYC), real-time information services, transit shelters and wayfinding products.

With the impending changes for IDFAs and the prospect of a cookieless future, there will be some media platforms that can succeed in this new reality. Out of home is one of them. The shift from consumer opt-out to consumer opt-in creates an opportunity for platforms that offer premium content. "If you advertise on a premium publisher, you know the audience you're getting," Grosso said. "You know that the audience is going to be high quality. That's got benefits for publishers, because the publishers will get the full value of the audiences without the ad tech companies acting as middlemen. The notion of premium content and context becomes much, much more valuable. Publishers that can deliver engaged audiences are going to be in a really good position."

Privacy looms large as a challenge for many companies, but Grosso is less concerned when it comes to many of the ways advertisers use out of home. "Brands don't necessarily need to know exactly who the individual person is, they need to know whether the people who saw those advertisements showed up at the store," he said. "You can deliver aggregated anonymized data in a privacy friendly way" to show the value of OOH while maintaining privacy and conforming to the new regulations.

Intersection is an OOH publisher that offers a range of compelling content like what is found on LinkNYC, which provides useful content like weather, time, factoids, art and local event calendars in addition to ads. In addition, the company can offer a point of purchase opportunity for advertisers. "Say you're a beer company and want to reach people who are going to bars," Grosso posited. "You could buy a digital out home campaign on our screens on Friday nights, right around the bar. I don't need a cookie to be able to reach that audience. I can find that audience at a logical place and time."

According to Grosso, the sunset of cookies offers a compelling point of difference for out of home. "Say you want to target drugstore shoppers. You can put ads on digital out-of-home screens or even static out-of-home screens right outside the drugstore and that's a powerful context for shopper marketing campaigns," he said. "Location and context become really important in a world where you can't use cookies track audiences."

Out-of-home measurement solutions for advertisers include established currencies and proprietary approaches. "We rely on Geopath, which is an audited set of metrics for the out of home industry" for reach, frequency and impressions, Grosso explained. "Geopath is the currency that people buy and sell on. We found that it was a good baseline. But you have to enhance those metrics. So, we've put together an ecosystem of partners that can build on top of what you get from Geopath," which includes more information on actual audiences delivered and what they do after exposure.

One example is campaign measurement for bus exterior advertising. "We sell advertising on more than 10,000 buses in the United States, and our bus measurement solution uses StreetMetrics, which provides digital style measurement and attribution" based on the bus' location data matched to anonymized mobile device data of audiences who see the bus ads.

For Grosso, the future is bright with possibilities. "Publishers with valuable premium audiences with differentiated content are going to be really successful," he noted. "That's going to be true in the digital space and that's going to be true in the physical space."

He pointed out that the opportunities are there for both big and small companies. Big platforms like Facebook or Google "will continue to be successful because they have lots of data and big audiences that are highly engaged," Grosso said. "If you're a specialized vertical publisher with a good audience you're also going to be successful. The premium out-of-home companies will succeed because they can use location targeting to reach hard to reach audiences with really good creative in contextual brand-safe environments.

"People are coming back to cities and going out more frequently as the pandemic winds down," he added. "Advertisers want to reach those folks at critical points throughout the day, so high quality out-of-home publishers are going to thrive. Out of home will become a great way to add highly localized reach for any of these marketers because if they want to target locations or consumers who congregate specific neighborhoods, the best way to do it has always been out of home. Increasingly, as more privacy regulations emerge, it may be the only way to do it.

"Out of home will continue to be the most cost effective, privacy friendly and brand safe way to reach consumers, if you want to target a geography," Grosso concluded.

Photo courtesy of Intersection

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