Scott Wells of Clear Channel Outdoor on Video Everywhere and Automation

By Archived Rubicon Project Archives
Cover image for  article: Scott Wells of Clear Channel Outdoor on Video Everywhere and Automation

Jay Sears, Senior Vice President at Rubicon Project recently spoke about Video Everywhere with Scott Wells, CEO of Clear Channel Outdoor Americas. The two appeared at a program on the topic at Advertising Week in New York City in September. You can view a video of the program below.

(The Video Everywhere program at Advertising Week New York. Pictured left to right: Jay Sears; Brendan Condon of AdMore; Scott Stansfield of Centriply; Scott Wells of Clear Channel Outdoor; John Partilla of Screenvision, and Michael Strober of Turner Broadcasting.)

JAY SEARS: What do you read to keep up with politics, art and culture?

SCOTT WELLS: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Apple News App, The Atlantic, Politico, The Hill

SEARS: What do you read to keep up with friends?

WELLS: Texts, e-mails, LinkedIn, Instagram

SEARS: What do you read to keep up with the media and advertising technology industries?

WELLS: Ad Age, Ad Week, Media Village, DigiDay, MediaPost, DailyDOOH, Digital Signage Pulse

SEARS: What’s your favorite commercial of all time?

WELLS: Too many to name. But I’ve always liked emotional appeals in Super Bowl ad campaigns. If I narrowed it to one, it has to be Coke’s ad with Mean Joe Greene.

SEARS: When you speak about “video everywhere” ad automation (including TV, out of home and cinema), how widely or narrowly do you define this?

WELLS: Well, in OOH we’re more like video here and there, rather than everywhere. Our industry in general, and roadside inventory in particular, is heavily regulated and doesn’t allow for the use of video. Full motion video in OOH is only permitted in areas like Times Square, Las Vegas, airports, some pedestrian-focused transit applications and in emerging urban entertainment districts (e.g., Minneapolis Mayo Square). And in these areas it has some powerful applications.

That said, we have partnerships where we leverage third party data, which includes aggregate and anonymous mobile location statistics, to help clients target specific audience segments and identify the OOH inventory that over-indexes for these consumer groups.

SEARS: With regards to advertising automation impacting “video everywhere,” what are the three biggest trends you expect to impact companies in 2016 and 2017?


  1. Ad tech business model evolution for video DSPs vs. cross-channel DSPs. As digital video investment ramps, who wins the activation ownership battle -- the legacy display or mobile DSPs that can purchase video (e.g. Turn or The Trade Desk), or the video-first DSPs that have broadened out across channels (e.g. AOL’s Adap.TV or TubeMogul)? 
  2. Premium video inventory trade-offs. Despite growing transaction volume, getting truly premium inventory at scale is still a challenge.  Until we achieve that consistently, it’s going to be difficult, to say the least, to apply precise first- and third-party audience segments on said inventory.
  3. Cross-channel measurement.  With TV’s still-dominant position but digital video investment continuing to grow, the need for more holistic measurement becomes critical to optimizing investment across screens.

SEARS: With regards to advertising automation impacting “video everywhere,” what are the three most overblown topics that you wish would just go away?

WELLS:This isn’t a top of mind concern for me, but the two things that occur to me are:

  1. Video viewability.  While the ad verification/methodology of this metric’s measurement does come into play, criticism here is pointed more to the publisher community about video player size, placement and generally creating quality placements.  We can learn from display’s growing pains in the viewability space and improve the mold.
  2. Programmatic TV.  While the promise is here and as an industry we don’t want PTV to go away, there’s wide variance as to what qualifies as programmatic for TV.  It would be beneficial for our industry to establish a very clear-cut definition of programmatic TV so buyers can go in with eyes wide open.

SEARS: Describe your company or division and then tell us the top three opportunities you are working on to advance “video everywhere.”

WELLS: Clear Channel Outdoor Americas is an outdoor advertising company with assets in 43 of the 50 largest markets in the United States. This includes a growing digital platform that now offers over 1,050 digital billboards across 29 U.S. markets.

Top three opportunities:

  1. Enhancing the digital savvy of our sales force and integrating mobile and social into our base value proposition.
  2. Continuing to add more and more audience segments into our suite of audience analytics, known as Clear Channel RADAR, for even better campaign planning and attribution.
  3. Continuing to enhance the capabilities of our Digital Operations Center for centralized management of our digital network. This includes defining and executing our programmatic offering.

SEARS: Will Nielsen (and Geopath FKA TAB for OOH) remain the standard for media currency? Will the innovations be primarily in audience definition and measurement, with these innovations being “translated back” to Nielsen as the currency?

WELLS: Today, Geopath is the underlying OOH industry media currency. It’s our intent for that to continue as they enhance the currency.  I expect there will be numerous ways to add more data to the core currency (as is the case in other media).

SEARS: Do we live in a “tale of two cities” where Google and Facebook win almost everything, advertisers are dictated to and other media companies fight for the scraps? What do you expect the impact of Google and Facebook to be in “video everywhere”/TV?

WELLS: Media evolution moves at the speed of light. Any media company worth its salt should be continuously reinventing themselves amongst the changing media landscape to remain relevant, competitive and part of the integrated media mix. In fact, I’m speaking on a separate Advertising Week panel with other legacy media companies who have also reinvented themselves for the digital age. And let’s not forget P&G, one of the world’s biggest ad spenders, said in recent reports they would dial back their hyper-targeted spend because they had gone too narrow and now they are investigating ways of getting greater reach.

SEARS: Transparency -- on media costs, on data, on inventory -- continues to be a lightning rod issue. Should transparency be a negotiated benefit for the advertiser client, yes or no?

WELLS: I’m not sure I identify with the term “negotiated benefit.” There needs to be clarity in contracts. And clients need to prioritize what they need in their contracts. My view is that client/agency relationship should be based on trust and clear contracts.

SEARS: Please answer the following statements yes or no.



(Click on the image above to watch the Video Everywhere program at Advertising Week New York.)

SEARS: If you had your own TV talk show, what would you name it?

WELLS: Crossfire Re-loaded.  We need to get people listening to different sides of issues again and not locking into pre-programmed answers. 

SEARS: A young family member has come to you seeking career advice. They must choose one of the following careers: ad agency executive, media company executive, ad technology executive or company marketing executive. Which career path do you recommend and why?

WELLS: Depends on their talents and passions.  I’d encourage them to build a career around places they can differentiate themselves and gain a deeper understanding of how to add value to customers, whoever their customers might be. Start with the customer and it’ll all work out.

SEARS: What is your favorite restaurant in the world?

WELLS: Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence -- my wife and I went there on our honeymoon and it blew our minds!

SEARS:  Thanks, Scott!

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