Is Accountable Measurement in Out-of-Home Advertising an Oxymoron?
The hallmark of out of home is its ability to reach, move and wow the masses with impactful, visible graphics and bold messages.
But how do we really know it’s working? How do we really know people are seeing it and reacting to it? Can we really get closer to that elusive Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS) on outdoor in the same way we can with digital media?
The old adage “I know that half of my ad spend works…just not which half” is even more pronounced in the Out of Home space…”I know people see my ads, but I have no idea who they are or if they are the right people”.
In much the same ways as other media, the Out of Home industry is struggling with the issue of accountability, but they have an added wrinkle. In almost every other medium, there is active participation which can, to some degree, be measured and at least indicate that consumers are interacting. With TV a viewer has to turn on the TV and select a channel; in print, a reader has to buy a copy of their favourite publication; online a surfer need only stop by a website. These behaviours give a minimum Opportunity to See (OTS) for those media which we have all accepted as a basic starting point.
For outdoor it’s slightly different. There’s a measure of vehicles driving on a certain roadway or how many people enter a shopping mall or go through the turnstile at a subway station. We layer on data about the likely number of passengers or the likely number of times they might go to the bathroom during dinner. It’s very passive, very ethereal data and, as a result, less than perfect metrics.
The outdoor industry needs to catch up with the other media and, it has a tremendous opportunity to jump ahead!
There are some interesting new ideas in measurement being proposed for Out of Home from the most basic infrared sensors that let you know someone passed in front of the ad, to more extreme technology that uses facial recognition to determine how many people are in front of the ad unit, whether their face is turned toward your ad and whether they are male, female and even their approximate age!
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to investigate some of these new technologies and methodologies and discuss them here in this space. From Neilsen-on_Location to Eyes-On to facial recognition and embedded PPM Tones, I’ll highlight a few of the new things coming and give my thoughts on them.
Accountability in outdoor advertising is possible, but it means letting go of the outdated ideas we have been using for 100 years and embracing new technology that can create true measurement we can count on.