The Power of the Digital Place Based Screen World -- How the Industry Needs to Adapt to Maximize Value -- Rupert Day

By Thought Leaders Archives
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Jack Myers will interview TenthAvenue’s Rupert Day at the DPAA Conference today. For more information visit

The fact that out of home environments is a critical part of engaging with the consumer cannot be disputed. Too many Cannes Awards have them as a critical part of the execution. However, this is where too much of the “cool” remains - in one-off brilliant executions or “stunts.” Whilst welcome, in that it “showcases” the versatility and power of well executed campaigns utilizing Digital Placed Based Screens (DPBS) we now need to move from episodic “stunts” to more consistent “always on” marketing support that is reflective of consumer behaviour and how they move through their daily lives with regular routines. DPBS needs to become a more standardized tool in the toolbox to deliver on the marketing objectives and delivering reach as the media marketplace continues to fragment and consumers can be messaged to on more and more screens.

The challenge for the industry is to take the ideas which deliver these award winning campaigns and make them the norm. For help in how to do this we need to look back at history. J Walter Thompson (previously Carlton and Smith) started life as a media broker; the Commodore only started developing content when he realized that he was not getting what he needed. As the DPBS industry looks to distribute video into our environments it needs to become totally passionate about the content it is distributing. Content needs to deliver on the experience at the right time, in the right location. While we can compete against alternative channels on price to get true value -- similar to many newly developing segments -- the industry needs to focus on creating and monetizing a content distribution strategy that can enhance the performance of this channel. We need to care how different experiences work in different environments, for different audiences, for different client objectives and for different times of day. Whether building the audience or advertising around it, what is going to make people engage?

This does not mean we need to take the lead creative agencies head on. But we do need to ensure they understand what will work in environments when people are “on the move” and collectively be prepared to invest the time and money to get it right.

The industry has begun to get a better understanding of audience planning, but this needs to be up-scaled on par with the core metrics of broadcast and video in order to rationalize the shift of advertising dollars to the sector. How do people go about their daily lives? How do different audiences behave at different times of day in different cities? How to align specific audiences with location and proximity to ensure that the message delivers “utility”?

The industry will need to work together to achieve this. We saw the launch of “Xaxis Places” (Xaxis being GroupM’s Programmatic Exchange) earlier this year which suggests new and increasing opportunities for DPBS. The wider and deeper the inventory options to deliver real time relevance, along with a greater efficiency in distribution, the greater the success of any campaign – whether it is an extension of more classic Out of Home, Broadcast or Digital.

Even if the industry needs to address the various technology issues, this is not really a technology debate. Technology makes our lives easier, but it is rarely the reason why we want do something in the first place. This comes from offering something of value to our clients and their consumers that encourages engagement. There will be times when a single Network will be the best solution, but there will be a number of instances when a campaign should be optimized across multiple networks. This will mean that some might lose out in the short-term, but however difficult this might be, the overall cake will grow and the industry will benefit overall.

As well as working together, the industry needs to open to supporting other channels. UK research suggests that OOH drives mobile search usage better than any other medium. How much better would performance be if we applied real time customer journeys with optimized creative? The industry should push for integrated campaigns with mobile and other channels, even if this means initially sharing budgets with others outside the DPBS industry. To keep social interactions within the DPBS environment versus encouraging it to cross over to the consumer’s handheld would be a great mistake. The consumer will decide how they want to consume that content and share it with their friends. The industry needs to align with them.

All of this means the industry needs to consider both the long as well as short term opportunities. To continually push for creative excellence. To make sure that those responsible for the overall creative strategies understand the potential of the medium and that they allow adaptation of their creative to fit our environments. To make sure the industry works together to ensure that we deliver content in the most efficient way and work with third parties to build integrated campaigns. A tall order, I agree, but if we do this, we will leave others arguing the balance between “Maths Men” vs. “Mad Men.” The industry will have taken the lead in developing the new norm of “Mad Maths Men.”

Rupert Day became the global Chief Executive Officer of tenthavenue, in January 2011. tenthavenue is looking to understand, better than anyone else how people with different mindsets engage with content in a multitude of environments, both physical and digital; to add real world relevance to all our communications and to bring true utility. Prior to tenthavenue, Rupert was the global Chief Operating Officer of GroupM. He was part of the original management team that launched MindShare globally following more than ten years in a variety of senior financial roles for WPP subsidiary companies.

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