Rainbow Kirby of Clear Channel Outdoor on the Power of Unskippable Media

By Media Insights Archives
Cover image for  article: Rainbow Kirby of Clear Channel Outdoor on the Power of Unskippable Media

Rainbow Kirby started her career in sports marketing with an internship at the New York Jets. "I knew little about sports," she admits, "and I had to be one of the least athletic people involved in a sports team, but I loved the energy of the fans." Her work for the Jets lasted six seasons and was followed by a stint with the New York Islanders for three years. She then moved into publishing at Disney, which was just beginning to integrate digital components in 2006. When she saw where the media dollars were shifting, she immersed herself in learning digital and took on a fully integrated role at Rodale, teaching the basics to the print teams at Runner’s World and Bicycling. Now, as Director of Marketing Communications at Clear Channel Outdoor, her job responsibilities are tightly matched to everything digital marketing has to offer.

Charlene Weisler: How did you get into out-of-home?

Rainbow Kirby: I had gone back to school in 2012 to get my masters in Integrated Marketing at NYU and found myself putting out-of-home media into all my projects. It was the only medium that still got my attention. I was no longer reading magazines, I had banner blindness and I couldn't remember the last commercial I had seen. When an opportunity at Clear Channel appeared in my LinkedIn feed, I jumped on it. OOH is the only medium that has experienced 24 consecutive quarters of growth. Messages in OOH are unskippable, always above-the-fold and can't be blocked. They're big, bold and can be interactive.  With newer digital capabilities, we can share content in real-time and even broadcast emergency messaging to communities.

Charlene: Tell me about your current job.

Rainbow: I often refer to myself as "Jill of All Trades." When you work in sales marketing, everything is interconnected, and that includes our industry communications and event marketing.  I always look for opportunities to share the Clear Channel Outdoor story with new audiences, whether it's through executive speaking appearances, conferences or partnerships. Storytelling is another big part of my job, from writing recaps and case studies to overall messaging. I helped launch iHeartBillboards.com as a storytelling vehicle that shares content with personality, smart writing and tons of beauty shots. Another big part of what I do is build client relationships with agencies and brands, and industry partnerships with organizations that include the OAAA, the ARF and the IAB, where I'm co-chair of the Digital Out-of-Home task force.

Charlene: Do you blend creative with quantitative analysis?

Rainbow: Yes.  You have to. I was one of those people who used to always go with my gut, but when I started diving into the metrics, I found my gut was often wrong. Sometimes I am surprised at which blog posts or case studies have the most views/downloads. But we now use the data to help fuel our content strategy. What's resonating and what's not? Data insights give my team a way to measure our own marketing ROI and share it with sales and senior leadership so that we're always aligned.

Charlene: Tell me about RADAR.

Rainbow: RADAR is our data and analytics suite that helps advertisers create their media plans with more efficiency. It's about buying media based on desired audience segments, not solely on location. For example, if I want to reach soccer moms, I'll be able to see which boards over-index for that segment. Those could be boards near schools or playing fields. Or maybe they're boards near locations you would never think of, but that's the beauty of data: I don't have to go with my gut and I have the metrics to back up my marketing decisions. The mobile-OOH connection is constantly evolving and we can now offer planning and attribution tools that have made online media so compelling.

Charlene: It seems like technology has impacted your job.

Rainbow: Definitely. It has given us more insights to make better decisions. We can see how many downloads we get for a specific case study, or how many opens our client email received, and then follow a lead through the sales funnel with Salesforce and HubSpot data. We've become better marketers because we can more easily deliver what clients want.

Charlene: In the three years that you have been at Clear Channel Outdoor, what has changed?

Rainbow: A lot of out-of-home inventory was bought by location, and now the thinking has shifted to buying audiences. Great creative will always reign supreme, and it's not all about digital. You can integrate mobile into static printed billboards. For example, Apple's Shot on iPhone6 campaign displayed user-generated photos in their creative, and they were beautiful. This campaign took home the Grand Prix last year at Cannes Lions -- and it was other people's photos. Snapchat didn't exist three years ago, but today their OOH campaigns are so attention-grabbing because they focus on simple, iconic imagery that connects directly with their mobile users. And contextual relevance is just becoming more commonplace with real-time capabilities on digital billboards. A Target campaign pulled real-time data from the sales floor and updated digital billboards with the most popular products in that neighborhood. That's relevant, localized and just really cool. Another newish channel that's adding value is Instagram. Our billboards receive so much earned media through social sharing, Just recently, Zac Efron posted a photo of himself saying "that dude is staring at me for sure" next to a super-sized image of himself on a billboard in Times Square, and in a matter of hours that one Instagram post had half a million likes.

Charlene: Can you give me some tips for effective blogs and billboards?

Rainbow: Sure.  For blogs:

  1. The headline needs to be concise and catchy. Make it newsy and always timely.
  2. When writing, have your target audience in mind. Messaging that you're sharing with potential buyers is very different that the tone you use with consumers.
  3. Get ahead of the sales planning cycle. We share back-to-school ideas in June and Christmas in July.
  4. Readers love visuals. With an average 8-second attention span an image is often more effective than a paragraph of copy.  
  5. Tag your photo images. This is a common miss for those not familiar with SEO.
  6. Consistency is key. When you post frequently you build trust with your readers.

For billboard creative, keep it simple: Be bold, be iconic, be cheeky. The cheeky, mysterious billboards get the most shares on social media.

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