How can advertisers navigate all the change and uncertainty in the TV landscape? We called on two of our experts to find out.
After a dip in ad spend in 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdowns, digital out-of-home is back in a big way, with programmatic DOOH (pDOOH) projected to be a billion dollar category by the end of next year.
In this episode, Ian Dallimore, VP of Digital Growth and GM of Programmatic at Lamar Advertising, joins host Noor Naseer to discuss what digital and programmatic buyers should know about this channel, from misconceptions to big opportunities.
Noor Naseer: Digital out-of-home hit a rough patch with the start of the pandemic in 2020, with consumers’ usual outdoor habits pulling back dramatically. That same pullback in behavior resulted in slashed budgets, with reports of global out-of-home spending dropping by over 10% at the time. Now in 2023, out-of-home is back in full force with more ways to buy it than ever before. I spoke to Ian Dallimore, VP of Digital Growth at Lamar, about the renewed curiosity around how to incorporate the medium intermediate plans, and leverage innovations that these out-of-home placements uniquely offer. We also discussed opportunities and considerations for programmatic buyers, and how digital out-of-home is becoming an increasing priority for omnichannel planners and buyers. This episode on digital out-of-home with Ian Dallimore starts right now.
NN: Obviously, you're an expert in the digital out-of-home space and the out-of-home space, you've been working in it for a really long time, Ian. So I feel like there has been maybe an uprising of curiosity around digital out-of-home and other things that are emerging from that space. I figured we could start off this conversation by just asking you how people have been thinking about digital out-of-home now? What kind of perspectives have you been bringing to clients that are looking to get introduced, who otherwise haven’t had familiarity?
Ian Dallimore: Yeah, and that's a great question and I'm really excited to be on. The medium has evolved. Lamar specifically has been around, we're in our 121st year, and obviously out-of-home since the days of the caveman had been around. So for us seeing that evolution, and the very beginning, it was very much around, exit here or just very much branded as the evolution has evolved. What digital out-of-home has allowed us to bring to the table is really this new way of thinking. And when I talk about a new way that was 20 years ago, when we first launched our first roadside, digital billboard, Lamar was kind of the first in that space. But very quickly, we started to say, “Okay, well, this product is a bit different from the traditional direct product, you know, what can we do with it?” So we first ingested data.
So we worked with IBM Watson to trigger creativity. We then teetered around with streaming live tweets and Instagram posts. To fast forward to today Noor, over the last 10 years, Lamar has been playing in the programmatic space. It's really allowed us to not only continue to evolve with our agency out-of-home specialist partners, which is kind of our day to day, then our local advertisers to really kind of be flexible with creative and change it out. But now, in my universe there is the ability to have impression-based buys, or outcome-based buys. So I.e. here's 50 markets. I don't want to run any time, because the pollen level is at a certain threshold. I want to run until the pollen count drops, and then the markets that don't have high pollen, I don't want to run anything. And then obviously, you can play in all sorts of weather conditions.
Then as far as the impression base in the programmatic world, we can dive deeper into this. But the short answer is, is it now allows out-of-home to live in the same world as online, mobile, social, and CTV, and really be an impression based by across all media, because as much as you and I live in this universe, none of us, including myself, woke up and I was like, “Man, I can't wait to see that ad on Instagram” “I can't wait to see that B roll on YouTube or TikTok or see that billboard.” It's just not how we're built. It's just what's our journey throughout the day, and different variations of screens impact us. And we know that dead space used to be out-of-home wasn't involved in that impression-based journey across different digital screens. So now we are.
NN: A big piece of the conversation is that it is impression based and there are no data sources or data considerations we can bring to the table that historically have not been a part of the out-of-home conversation. From the perspective of also the buyer and challenges that the media buyer faces, are there any benefits associated with the buying process that people can take advantage of?
ID: Yeah, and I love that question because so often people treat the word programmatic, when that first came out and really introduced itself to the out-of-home space, we had to be very careful—actually the topic of my team's focus this year is protecting the true integrity of programmatic or RTB real time bidding. Because it’s so easy, you're right, Noor is, “Hey, it's Friday, or today, it's four o'clock. The client just hit me with this budget. I'm an out-of-home specialists-focus. I'm not an online media buyer. Let me just log in to this platform and push through a buy.” That's great. I think that that's what's made Lamar specifically and even our friends at Out Front begin to evolve and look at, “Okay, we've solved for programmatic, we're seeing significant growth there. But that same API that we've built out with real time availability, maybe we need to start to focus on the direct side of our business.” So if it's truly more about that out-of-home specialist is more about automation then let's do that. So we've since done that, we've rolled out that product. And we'll watch that evolution. What we don't want is cannibalization of existing buys from a certain subset of agencies within the larger hold co.’s to just move over to programmatic because it's easier to do. So it really helped our industry on the back end to begin to evolve. We're really in our infancy right now.
NN: It feels that way. I know that digital out-of-home/programmatic digital out-of-home have been around for a little bit. But I think in terms of true accessibility, that's really just starting to rise. So I think some of what you just said now Ian begs this question, what's the ratio look like? There's still a lot of traditional out-of-home billboards out in the world. Then there are these now rising digital out-of-home options. What does the split look like, if you can give us some background on that?
ID: It makes up around 10% of our overall inventory compensation. But it makes up revenue wise, almost 35% of our overall revenue comes from those 4500 screens, which from a revenue perspective, that's fascinating. Now, as the evolution evolves, we, as a publisher, need to make sure we're very careful because we look at cannibalization within the marketplace as well, because there is a time and a place where both digital and static play together. Where traditional static makes more sense, programmatic, obviously, digital only makes sense.
So even within the marketplace, I get asked this question on stage a lot. It's like, “Well, are you going to transition all 325,000 screens to digital?” And the answer is quickly “No”, because of the latter response I just gave you, but it does play a role. But we're really looking to evolve in markets that maybe don't have digital or the marketplace itself is a new community pops up, a new town center pops up and really kind of focusing on okay, that's a new location, that's where people move, let's roll out a new digital 2345, etc.
NN: Reasonable to not have the plan to do a mass conversion and turn everything into digital; it makes me also think of this, which is that of course, there are going to be buyers out there who have been waiting for transition or increase in digital boards, because they're focused on digital buying. If there isn't a digital component, maybe that's not in their wheelhouse based on politics or whatever the structure of labor is in relation to media buying. Then on the flip side, I wonder for traditional buyers, whether that be businesses that work directly with Lamar or other out-of-home companies, or its full-service agencies, holding companies, whoever it is that's doing a lot of out-of-home buying, where sometimes they see it as a negative in the sense of there being a proliferation and the growth of these digital boards.
I work for a digital company, so digital always sounds good to me. But one thing that comes to mind is I'm on the highway, and I'm looking at a screen, there's an impression, and then it flips to something else. Whereas the static board stays there, it's stagnant, I can look at it for a suspended period of time. That's just one example. But is that ever a question that comes up? Are there people who prefer to only be on static billboards versus those impression-based billboards or whatever that out-of-home structure is? I wanted to get some of your perspective on how people react to that.
ID: Yeah, so obviously, digital has attracted on the programmatic side, a lot of the omnichannel DSPs. So they live in that universe, all they care about is that impression. And what you're talking about is extremely important in the out-of-home space, and it's what the medium does really well. But I'll give you a real-life example, one of my favorite brands, Gooder Sunglasses, we'll give them a shout out. They're an absolutely amazing company, but they've never utilized out-of-home. They kind of shied away from it. They liked the idea of the traditional direct and maybe doing something fun. This past summer was the first time they ever utilized digital and traditional static. So I'll kind of quickly walk you through it. So like what you guys deal with on a day to day basis, they have their audience segmentations and they have their first party data and they basically said like, “Okay, programmatically, we can overlay that first party data, and you can insert any brand that has been doing this for quite some time with Lamar on the programmatic side”. Insert X, audience segmentation, first party data, pipe that in and then here's the DMA market list. “Oh, by the way, we're going to drop a pixel on our website. We're going to do device ID pass backs to then track the effectiveness of the digital campaign”. So you have that one campaign.
Simultaneously, they took a very important market to them, which I'm being very facetious here. Their CEO is a flamingo, obviously not in real life, but his name is Carl. So we collaborated with them. And we said, “Okay, we actually have a Carl, Georgia. And in Carl, Georgia, there's a mayor. And how much fun would it be, if we did this massive build out, we gain PR, you flew your entire social team down, you did TikToks of the billboard. You even got to go into City Hall and have the mayor and the whole city of 169 people, you hand out free glasses.
So really quickly, to kind of summarize that example, if you have first party data digital very impression based, and then you're utilizing the same category out-of-home on the traditional direct side. You build out this 3D Flamingo. You introduce them to the town you integrated now in social, you also integrated in obviously PR. Those are two drastically different mediums. But it's one cohesive campaign that has used both new age technology with digital, and data and measurement, and social, and then you utilize the traditional direct sides to really just capture your attention for a while. So a long-winded way of saying, if done correctly, we see brands utilizing both.
NN: So you really launched into a pretty sophisticated example of the way that people can really bring in a lot of different data sources to the table as Gooder particularly decided to, and also leveraging the wow factor of what out-of-home brings to the table. So maybe the best of both worlds. If someone is looking to understand what those opportunities could look like, maybe they're not looking to go as big as what you're describing. But they want to bring their data into the equation, and they haven't executed in the digital out-of-home space before. How do you set them up for success? What do you ask them to share with you so that they can build a pretty sophisticated digital out-of-home plan?
ID: Yeah, we get asked actually, we had a call earlier this morning with an actual regional local client. And the short answer is, if they're like, “Hey, we really just want to do an impression-based buy. We have our audience, and we use this third-party data company.” And it's fascinating because the conversation happens pretty quickly. It's like, “Well, it's a pharma company. You know what, we have cross x data as well.” So the first question is, like, okay, what are your KPIs for your campaign? So if you want to run digital, and we see it very much like, okay, that's this is an audience impression-based target campaign, then we quickly shift you over to programmatic? The first question is, do you have a seat? And do you have a seat on a platform? And very quickly, they kind of get confused. They're like, “Wait out-of-home, seat?” And we're like, “Yeah, do you have a seat on any of the omnichannel DSPs?” And most of them even at the local level, they're like, “Well, yeah, that's how I buy CTV and all other media”.
So quickly, what we do is we understand what the KPIs are for the campaign, we understand, in that format example, what data sets are they using across other media? So if online for pharma, they're using cross x, we say, Okay, perfect. We have cross x, we are then based on the DMAs, and the markets, which is a bit different for digital, obviously, because in the digital universe, traditional digital that you guys live in, it's the impressions, it's the audience. For us, we take it another step further, and we narrow it down to “Hey, what audience are you looking to target? Okay, here's the third-party data, we have access to that as well. What markets do you want to be in? And what's your flight?” And then just like any other traditional digital media, online, mobile, social, we just build that ideal idea, and we push it towards that seed, which that right there, that conversation wouldn't happen three years ago. And that's what got the industry to where it is today, in order for us to participate and get those massive digital budgets and be a part of the consumer journey, path to purchase. The only way that you can do that is if your inventory is accessible to DSPs, whether they're omni-channels or not.
NN: What does the matching process look like in the digital out-of-home space? So just to elaborate on that question, I've got a certain number of files. Let's say I have 500,000 files, like email files or other types of data that I'm looking to pass along. It's a more complicated matching process because we're looking to go up against billboards and bus shelters. And wherever Lamar potentially has these like digital out-of-home or out-of-home opportunities. It's going to be different than trying to reach people, match it back to like people's TV screens at home or their computers. So can you tell me a little bit about the variation and what that matching process looks like?
ID: Yeah, so we're talking about MAIDs and device IDs. I tell people this all the time, and it may ruffle some feathers with some other out-of-home companies. But we're a billboard company, our job is to make the product more sophisticated. And our connections are our sweet sauce that then connects to these elaborate platforms. So I say that because it's not our job in the out-of-home space, nor should it be because it'd be a little sketchy. But when we work programmatically with these SSPs, we're working with the same companies, whether it's LiveRamp and their robust matchup platforms, all we're doing is just passing off those timestamps on when that ad plays. And then in return, our job is to pass the timestamps along to the different third-party companies that we work with, they're capturing those MAIDs, they're automatically capturing those exposed files that were exposed to that digital out-of-home. The third-party platforms are the ones that are collecting that data, whether it's LiveRamp or others, and then if it's utilized correctly, in a third-party, omni channel DSP, those files are captured. And then they're able to take those captured files and then retarget them on mobile, social, online, CTV. Again, going back, it's not the responsibility of the publisher and the out-of-home space, because that starts to become a little iffy on, “Well, how'd you get all these device IDs? Did my ad actually play?” Our job is just to verify, and then the third-party data platforms, that's their responsibility to capture.
NN: From there, I wanted to also ask you about people coming back to the digital out-of-home space. So kind of a pivot in our conversation, knowing that we were just a little over two years ago, in a world where the vast majority of people were still working from home and a lot of out-of-home buying had taken a setback. People were saying, “People aren't on the road, people aren't out in public, people have to be at home. How can we continue to justify having this on plans?” Now it's two years later. Has it been a massive comeback? In what types of industries? Is there an even stronger initiative or push for out-of-home? And are there some industries where there's been a pullback or some sort of strategic reason for why buying is just continuing to lag?
ID: Yeah, great question. I loved the fact from the publisher's media side that we were early on in programmatic whenever the pandemic hit, immediately, our numbers on March 30, started to decline, March 15, is when it went to zero on programmatic as it relates to the other side of our business. I won't go deep into that. I was excited about that. I'm like, this proves that these are not just, “Hey, we're just lazy buyers. So we're just going to buy.” It also proved that we weren't talking to the motor home specialists, these were true omnichannel DSP buys, and they shut off everything. I'm sure you guys experienced that as well. Everything was cut off, it was like, “Okay, we're going to either cut it off, or we're going to slow it down a little to nothing.” We're going to take a step back and figure out what's happening, right? Obviously, the first easy one was rightfully so, okay, assumption, no one's on the road. Everyone stayed home for two weeks. So we saw that. But what was interesting, and I love this is so often in our space, out-of-home, not on the local side, obviously, but on the national side of brands, you know, the top 250 brands, oftentimes, they're very hesitant out-of-home anyway. Or if they do spin out-of-home, it's very much like, “I have to be in New York, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, those kind of tent poles”. I've always laughed, you know, obviously, being a Baton Rouge-based company and where I am in the south here and remind me? You're in Chicago?
ID: Perfect example. Right. So for you what the pandemic meant and looked like was massively different from what it looked like here in Baton Rouge, Texas, Florida, Arizona, where I always like to play this game because it's not about a billboard. It's not about a mobile device or CTV. Going back to the multiple screens, it's really about like, “Okay, well, what does your journey look like?” And in the pandemic situation, “What are your life patterns?” Obviously in New York, you can't have millions of people jumping on the subway so immediately, there's nobody on the subway, which means nobody's advertising on the out-front network and this subway. But we started to see these buys that they started to uptick because again they're looking at real mobility data. And they started to see like “Wait, I can't spend my money in New York, LA, Chicago because obviously there are lockdowns.” But by June, July, we started to see those budgets that typically would go to New York, LA, Chicago, and other large markets began to say like “Okay, well there's still people moving out and about, we see this with the mobility data that we're utilizing on these third-party platforms. So we started to see a shift in budgets to where typical brands that would spend in New York and LA, were starting to spend in Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Florida, Atlanta. So as these markets came online, and some of them came online quicker than others, some of them came on, turned off, leveled out.
But to answer your question, now, we really focused in and programmatic allowed us to really hone in and say like, Okay, this really is about data, it really is about who is moving out and about. But that was a tough year for out-of-home, which was really tough. Because we came out of the previous year, we were scheduled to have an epic year, the next the following year, when the pandemic hit, and we were on the rise, January, February. And then when March hit, we dropped local, we did fine, it came back pretty quick. But roadside the next year, took over 60% of programmatic revenue, where in the past, we lived around 40% of the overall revenue on these SSPs. were capturing roadside billboards, at 30/40. It hits 60, the next year, because you still had significant lockdowns. So obviously elevator networks and gyms were still locked down. So you had those networks that were down to zero and making zero money. But that budget again had to go somewhere, because they saw the mobility of data. So it leveled out. We're beyond that next year, we jump back quickly.
Overall, as a company, we did significantly well the following year. So the growth and trajectory of out-of-home spin. I think what it's done overall is it's really changed out the perception, which again, being a southern boy, I love, I always used to have to mess with our friends out in LA on the movie house this like, “Hey, by the way, people in New York, don't go to the movies. You know where they go to the movies? They live in Baton Rouge, they live in Kansas City, they live in Birmingham.” We don't just need to buy the tentpoles, we need to be very strategic on when and where to buy. And oh, by the way out-of-home has shown its flexibility that we can turn it on and off, not just because of a pandemic or the previous year, this past year was, “Hey, if we have supply chain issues, we could turn it off, we can turn it back on we can level it out.” So I think it really allowed out-of-home to shine in so many ways.
NN: Are there any resettling things that have occurred? I know you mentioned just a little while ago that it's back and maybe better than ever before. But have there been any instances in which there's been a shift in the way that the market is approaching holistically digital out-of-home or out-of-home in general?
ID: Yeah, I think over the last couple of years D2C. Before the pandemic, we started to see a handful of the Caspers of the world, the Ro, those types of companies, DSC would purchase in these larger markets and they were utilized out-of-home. I think now that they've experienced what they have in the out-of-home space, they begin to look at it out-of-home, completely different than they would have before. Before it was very much branded. So if I'm in a brand I'd rather brand where the bulk of people are aware I can get the most impressions. Also, Lamar has been doing programmatic for 10 years, but most everyone else came on board about three years ago, and really significantly with a lot of the play space screens has been the last two and a half years.
So it's interesting to watch how they can now buy traditional direct, whether they're buying digital static transit airports, or they can also buy that same exact media programmatically. So I think it's now allowed them to live in that space.
I also think that people are very particular about what type of media and what type of products in the out-of-home space that they purchase. Or in the past, they may have just been freely Licious, by all screens in the New York DMA. Now they look at it a little bit differently and kind of focus on “Okay, well, what does that product mean? How does the data now play a role?”
So we have had our moments like all media right now and all publishers, it's, are we going to be in a recession? Are we not? So we still see these like little teeters. Are we approaching a significant war that may impact? So I think now we're beginning to be treated the same way that all other media where in the past, it's just been like, well cut out-of-home because we can't measure it and we don't know its effectiveness.
NN: You just brought up measurement. And admittedly, I have a couple other questions that have come to mind given some of what you just said. But I think it's important to pivot in that direction, especially knowing that our audience is focused on the ad tech space and programmatic buying. There's a lot of energy around performance.
Now to go back to some of what you've said: There's the presumption that if we're talking about out-of-home and anybody that's working with Lamar or anybody else in the out-of-home space that people understand strategically, what is the value of this medium relative to other media types, but there are people who have been sitting on the fence. Some of those people who sit on the fence, it's because they're so accustomed to digital buying where there's this one-to-one attribution process. You see, you click, there's a lookback window. And now I can say, X volume of people has made this purchase relative to this amount of media investment. What type of conversation do you have with them if there are performance-oriented expectations?
ID: Measurement is a big component, right? So we talked about the device ID pass backs, anonymous device IDs, that allows us to be the medium that helps generate more of the campaign and have a more impactful, “Oh, wow, I saw that Travel Texas ad, people kayaking down the Red River. I want to go there.” “Oh, wow, I just got on my Instagram ad, Travel Texas, same exact creative but smaller. Click here. Wow now I got a banner ad. Now I'm on their website.” Now, what I just explained to you not only was the device ID passed back, but also, as I mentioned, we can drop in pixels.
The other way that we can measure is through exposure. And then where did that anonymous device ID end. So I was exposed to that target ad, whether I realize that or not on a roadside billboard, that device ID over the next 10 days then ended up at a target. Those are attributable to the out-of-home space. And then the last thing that we do is we work with a handful of brand lift study companies like M4 or Mira, just like in the online world where you can do brand lift studies; exposed, unexposed.
So we've really gone the extra mile to make sure like, “Okay, we understood what our limitations were in the past”. It was like, “Okay, I know, I'm buying 1.8 billion impressions over a six-week period across 25 markets.” We recognize that we said, “Okay, well, what does measurement look like in the online world? What does it look like in the mobile world? How can we help complement? How can we help amplify a campaign? But most importantly, how can we utilize that same data, the same measurement.” So that way, we become a part of the campaign because we're not blind to the fact that we're not a one-to-one medium, I believe if we wouldn't be a one-to-one medium, it'd be very awkward, right? Because if you walked past a billboard, and we were able to tap into your search, browser history, or Instagram history, envision yourself walking down Las Vegas Boulevard, and having our digital bus shelters change based on what you've searched in the last 20 minutes. That would be a very bad experience. Maybe comical to some of us. But we do understand now with data, we can be one to target, hey, I want to target a mom with two plus kids that has an affinity towards discount big box retailers and visited an MLB stadium within the last 60 days.
NN: So I was going to say I do envision that because in a lot of my presentations, if I'm just talking about innovation, the future of innovation, whether it's related to out-of-home, or maybe I'm referring to the metaverse, I'll use the Tom Cruise Minority Report example and I'm sure you bring it up in the out-of-home space all the time. Where it says like, “Do you need a new pair of pants,” whatever his name is in Minority Report. It's using presumed technology that's aligned with something that you're referring to, which is one to one. They're doing some sort of retina scan. We're presuming it's a world that we don't want to live in. Again, I assume that in the instance of someone who is approaching the out-of-home space, that there is a reasonable understanding of what out-of-home can bring to the table. You're probably doing a lot of educating too. Sometimes people are so deeply in the weeds with performance, they just figure if there's now the letter D added onto out-of-home, or now there's a programmatic opportunity. That means it must be much more precise. I think you can bring people back down to earth in understanding that maybe even if you could have that you wouldn't want to give the user experience and also privacy regulation, which is going to increasingly make that challenging, maybe more challenging than it even is today.
ID: Yeah, and I think we've all probably in the ad world have heard the story of even, you know, somewhere to out-of-home direct mail. We've all heard the story out of Target where there was a 15- or 16-year-old that was pregnant, became pregnant their parents didn't know. And obviously over the next three weeks the target was sending direct mail for Pampers diapers and formula, and it was kind of like “What the hell are we getting this for?” We're whatever, 55 plus, we're not pregnant. So even the static traditional direct mail piece was being too hyper-targeted, and that created all sorts of laws etc.
So we have to be careful because we're in people's space. So when we go to audience segmentation, the one that I just described, that happens a good bit, and we look at it as this way is yes, it's more precise towards the audience segmentation. We would rather hit “Hey, this panel during this time of day, highest indexes towards the audience that you're looking to hit Brand X, therefore we're going to bid and buy”. Obviously, it's not a one-to-one experience, but we know we want to help amplify that conversation.
The other benefit that out-of-home does to where you may get served a one-to-one ad on mobile or social is that experience in that brand interaction is only between the two of you. If I display something, programmatically, or just traditional direct digital, you may now be targeting a certain audience segmentation. But you have I guess, in the online space, it's called “Spillage” or “Overage”. You're now hitting people that maybe you thought wasn't your brand segmentation, and they see it. And that's not at all who you were targeting. But with great creativity, and great use of retargeting you were then able to pick up another consumer. That's the way that we kind of look at that space.
We have a lot of regulations, we have a lot of privacy, especially with our airport inventory. Could we use facial recognition? 100%. Have we tested it? Yes, we've tested cameras within our shelters within our airport inventory. Or it could take at, at minimum, your emotion, your ethnicity, and how your facial expressions are. But for us, there's a significant amount of privacy and impacts that we stay away from. So when we talk about brand safety, we are brand safe in the sense that even down to we have a restriction code. So if we have digital or static and other mediums that's in and around schools, churches, graveyards, we don't allow for alcohol, we don't allow for that medium. So even in the programmatic side of out-of-home, those restriction codes are built in to where you're not even able to run your ads based on those restriction codes.
So we're very much at the forefront of technology. And could the day exist when Mr. Yakamoto needs to buy a new pair of khakis? Maybe. But it definitely won't be on a roadside billboard. And it would be in a very much closed one-to-one scenario.
NN: I did want to also ask you about thinking about the funnel, if you're going after a buyer who's not digital out-of-home or out-of-home exclusive, and they're putting together a strategy and they want to figure out what my expectations should be for whatever the yield is from out-of-home or traditional programmatic or digital out-of-home, what reasonable KPIs related to the out-of-home space.
ID: Yeah, and that's the beauty of it, it varies, right? Your KPIs may be, hey, I want to hit more people that download Spotify, I think if we're the only medium that's involved; and I'm talking more on the national brand side, not local advertisers. But if I'm utilizing the only vehicle that I'm using is billboards, or airports, or transit. And that's the only medium, I think you're not going to find your outcome to be as great as it could be, it's going to do its job, it's going to drive brand awareness. Statistically, it's people that are exposed to at home.
Most recently, and the Nielsen report that we had with the AAA was 48% of consumers that are exposed to an out-of-home ad, then go onto social to check out their social page, the other stats 56% of consumers that are exposed to out-of-home, then go on to search that product on Google or make some sort of search about that product. So Noor what that does is really validates the fact that like, “Hey, if you're going to do a billboard campaign, you need to make sure that your search engine optimization is up to par.” Like we do this test. I did one last night. And I was like, well, that's a cool campaign. I went to search it on Google, literally wasn't even on the first three pages.
We do the same thing with social if you're going to push a specific brand or product, understand, and our local clients do this really well because we really advise them. Understand that over half of the people that are exposed to those billboards are then going to go to your social sites, whether it's TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, whatever it may be, you need to make sure there's some posting or some stories or reels that are relevant to what you have currently running out-of-home. As far as KPIs, every category is different. And every strategy is different. And I think that that's what really differentiates out-of-home is creativity drives the conversation, the call to action. So you may just want to have the most beautiful portrait again, going back to travel and tourism. You may want to have the most beautiful, picturesque while you're in Chicago and we do this a lot with cruises. And it's a beautiful cruise and you're getting off the island of St. Lucia. And there's the beautiful Carnival cruise ship. And you're sitting there in the middle of a blizzard in March, that has a different impact than a mobile ad while you're sitting at home or watching a CTV ad while you're stuck at home.
So the KPIs vary but understanding that we now have the ability to measure that impact is something that in the past, we just haven't, we're just kind of like, well, we know it worked, because you have a beautiful brand. And the creative looks great. And it's hitting hundreds of thousands of people a day. I guess it's working. Those days are gone. The measurement’s there.
NN: Something else I wanted to ask you about Ian was you just mentioned making sure that there's somewhere for people to go to after they've experienced your out-of-home activation? And that may require that there is some sort of call to action. So are there recommended CTAs? People oftentimes will joke about “Make sure that people aren't trying to scan a QR code as they're driving down the highway because they'll hurt somebody, or they'll get in an accident.” But are there some best practices that you suggest in a series of different instances where someone will want to make that fast connection? Because they're not going to put in some long URL? Because they'll never remember that?
ID: Yeah, so if you asked me that question, when I first started, it would probably be even before that, but the big thing that people used to do and out-of-home, and then the general was like, “Oh, we got to put a phone number on there”. Noor we still deal with that at the local level, or like, “Well, I want to put my phone number on there.” It's like, nobody calls you anymore. So my point is, I'm glad you said no QR codes on roadside billboards. Because first off, they don't work. You know, we have clients that are like, Yeah, but I still want to do it. And I'm like, “Well, A, we restrict those because again, we want to not only be brand safe, but we also want to have a safe experience. But more importantly, go try it for yourself, just run down the street and have your daughter hold up a QR code and tell me how that works out for you just doesn't work.” But it does work on other mediums. So we do see a good bit of on transit or ports, other walkable out-of-home experiences where we encourage QR codes. So yeah, so we encourage people on the transit pedestrian stuff. If a movie has blitzes, a bus, shelter market and a certain city, then yes, we encourage QR we actually play and RFID tags, we play with the push notification abilities.
But as it relates to best practices for call to actions outside of those mediums, we live in a world today where curiosity is the most important thing. So if you have defender, and have fantastic, beautiful creative, and maybe it is contextually relevant, because you utilize data, and you have baseball bags on the back of it, and you show the rough ruggedness of the product, we're very curious humans, and we know that we have the vehicle, we have the ability to say, “Alright, perfect, that's a defender, I'm going to go search it, and I'm going to learn more about it. It's almost like you don't need a call to action, because the call to action was creative and it was that beautiful experience that you had.” So very rarely do we see certain call-to-actions.
Now we may have something simple like Travel Texas, which I love their campaign that's running, it just says “Traveltexas.com” very subtly, just to remind me, that's what it is. But for the most part, the brands tell the story themselves and out-of-home allows the experience, but it is why I go back to my point, you have to be buttoned up. You have to make sure that if you're going to have the defender creative, that when I go to that website, that giant experience may be the same creative or some variation of it. And then that's when I'm going to go do my research. I don't need you to give me the website, the handle the backslash etc. You may just have that Instagram logo with the ad handle on it just to tell me where to go.
NN: In those instances, I imagine that brands like, for example, Land Rover or Travel Texas or whatever the particular big out-of-home buyer is. They don't have an attribution expectation; meaning that they're not trying to necessarily connect back directly to that campaign, but rather, maybe they're looking for lift, like lift in website visitation, but it can't be directly connected back to that campaign, or that media type. So long as that's not a priority for them, are there, in the event that an advertiser is really concerned and they're not going to use a QR code or they want an alternative, are there ever things that are suggested that people can remember so it doesn't just boil down to them having to Google something else?
ID: Yeah, I think it depends on the notoriety of the brand itself. You know, obviously if I see the Land Rover logo, I can quickly figure it out even if I didn't know that that was a Defender. If you want to go more at the local level, yeah, that's important. But that's where the creative really shines. So simplicity of, you know, hey, if my KPI is I want to drive more people to download a certain app, then on top of the fact that I should be retargeting those consumers with an experience on the mobile device that are exposed to out-of-home, but it may simply be the Apple logo, and the Android logo, you know, download today, again, we're very savvy consumers, we've especially, during the pandemic, we've really seen this heightened attitude of like, hey, I can go out and find whatever I want, you know, the web is, is a beautiful place, social has now blown and blossomed into this organic creativity experience, I just need to have some sort of guidance, like, here's the Instagram logo, very subtle. And here's the handle to learn more.
So just start me down the path to make sure that I didn't think that that was, my wife thinks that the Ford Broncos look exactly like the Defenders. And I'm like, “They're completely different vehicles.” But what you don't want to experience is you didn't have that Land Rover logo on there, maybe you put the local Peretti, who's the Land Rover dealer if you're at the local level, to where you at least guide them. My overall point is that you don't have to have that call to action, whether you're a local, national brand. We're very intuitive, and we're very curious people. But again, it's why I'm so infatuated with the omnichannel approach is out-of-home could be that initial driver, that where you then hit them with that Spotify, push notification of like, here's the most recent country album that just dropped by music singer X.
NN: For a lot of folks that are going to be listening to this particular podcast, there is going to be curiosity around that. Attribution is so central to a lot of the ways that they're trying to prove out the value of any medium. So it's good to hear that I know, this has already been a long conversation. But I think I've been thinking about a lot of different things and have curiosity to ask about them. So to bring it back to programmatic buying or programmatic digital out-of-home. I know much earlier on in our conversation, you mentioned that, ultimately, digital is a smaller component of the much larger out-of-home footprint and that I imagined programmatic as a smaller segment of that, since then, some of that digital is going to be exclusively bought site direct through individual sales points of contact.
So in terms of what you can uniquely do programmatically, are there any things for programmatic buyers to learn about from you, that they may otherwise not know because they're not exposed to this style of buying? The simplicity of targeting the speed with which they can find markets, or any other details like that from a strategic planning and targeting perspective?
ID: Yeah, and look, we've built out a team here that, I have zero sales reps, because education is the most important thing. So the team and I spend most of our time educating the omnichannel DSPs, educating the brands directly. So we get this question a lot. And it's very much what you're doing today. For your brand, whether it's online, mobile, social, what you're doing today, we have that same ability. And not only do we have that ability, but you can do it in the same exact platform. And whoever you have your seat on.
As it relates to ability, that's something different, going back to creativity, creative is the most important thing. So we've already touched on the fact that it's massive and scale itself, you have this blank canvas that you can do so many beautiful things. Well, one of the things that we've also brought into the programmatic space that we've been doing for quite some time in the out-of-home digital side was dynamic content. So we have Bally's for the Atlanta Braves programmatically that runs live scores, so their games only begin, they only buy whenever their games begin. So obviously they're doing an impression-based audience targeting baseball enthusiasts, blah, blah, blah. But the coolest part for them is the ability to have real live scores. We touched on the weather, for example the NBA. Depending on when this launches during the playoffs, we're going to be streaming live tweets from the NBA, as well as live scores all the way down to, and this is the most basic thing that out-of-home does, because location and proximity are the most important thing.
I'm making an assumption here: a good friend of mine played for the Cubs forever. I'm a Cubs fan myself. And we have a digital network that downtown, near Wrigleyville, our creative can play content based off of real time outcomes. So Noor, you're in Chicago as you're walking around Wrigleyville, and you may be having lunch and next thing you know it's not necessarily the Cubs that are promoting or the MLB. But you may be a closet gambler and you have a certain app on your phone, and you love to bet on baseball, which I highly recommend don't ever bet on baseball. But based on your app, and based on those consumers that are walking by, you may have DraftKings. It shows you the real timelines, the betting lines during that game that's about to happen in three hours. So again, context and location are key. The last point of going to location is from a creative perspective, one of the benefits of out-of-home is what's in proximity, what's in the area. We've had campaigns such as New Balance, and others, where they're targeting over 75 to 100, different New Balance stores across so many cities, as opposed to that they're able to provide one piece of creative and dynamically based on when and where that buyer is happening. And the location of that board, when you're bidding and buying, we're passing that information back. And dynamically, the location of the store in the correct font that that creative team uses is displayed. So you have the New Balance shoe. You have available now at and then dynamically that's dropping it in.
I would say that that's probably the biggest differentiator is creative, and then the dynamic side of it. And then obviously, the ease of buying. So the ability just for us to build out a deal. Whether that's a specific deal ID for a specific PMP for a specific campaign and KPIs or very simplistic just like they do in the online and mobile space, we can just build an evergreen deal for your brand and just push it over to you. When and wherever you want to buy, whether it's Open Exchange or PMP, you don't have to contact a sales rep. So the process doesn't slow down. It's very much I'm buying in real time. And based on the measurement across all other media I ad spend; I can remove spend just the way that you can do and all of the media.
NN: I’ll wrap this question up. You've mentioned to me earlier, we've talked about this in the past that you do a lot of speaking engagements, you know, you have your own podcast. So, a part of you continuing to tour the country and have those conversations is that you must be involved in a lot of dialogue about the future of digital out-of-home and maybe programmatic digital out-of-home as well. What are you excited about that people are having conversations about as far as innovation in this realm?
ID: You know, I think if you're going to the far future, I think being a part of the driverless car itself or even driverless car for where the Teslas are moving towards and a handful of others. How does that of home then drive to that car screen? Don't freak out everybody. This would be an opt-in thing and we would work with each different vehicle. Then wearables you know, we all live in this world now where we have an Apple Watch, or we have some sort of wearable. I wear Whoop, how great would it be if you're standing next to a digital bus shelter, and it shows it knows that you burn 700 calories this morning, and then it triggers a Smoothie King ad for one of their products. That's kind of future stuff.
What excites me today is the ability to continue to educate people on the medium. Because so often, we get the conversation where it's like, “I had no idea out-of-home could be a part of my conversation.” “I had no idea that you could do device ID pass back.” The evolution of e-commerce is going to be big in the out-of-home space, not just programmatic, but the traditional direct side, that excites me. And honestly, we didn't talk about this, but AI and ChatGPT from a creative perspective. And from a rate optimization perspective, I think that that's going to be super exciting. And it's something that we're focused on. And I know the industry, half of us in one camp, half of us and the other, but again, embracing technologies and better understanding how and what it does for us, I think is imperative.
NN: I had a lot of questions over this hour for you because my mind is spinning in so many directions. I imagine for folks who haven't bought in space or have thought about it and haven't quite made the jump yet, this is a good starting place to start thinking and brainstorming more deeply. So thanks for the conversation Ian.
ID: Yeah, I love it. This was so much fun. Again, for us, our biggest hurdle is like all other medium is just evolving and educating. I'm grateful for you and the platform to do this. But this has been a lot of fun.
NN: Thanks for the time.