In the days leading up to Screen Media Expo in London, the DailyDOOH blog published an article entitled What To Do In London The Day Before Screen Expo, which highlighted some of the most interesting and worthwhile installations in the city.
Thanks to the very efficient Underground subway system, I was able to see some of the sites myself before and after the expo.
St. Pancras Passenger Information Points
I took the EuroStar in from Paris to St. Pancras station, so the first installation I saw was the St. Pancras Passenger Information points, 11 of which are set up in walkways of London’s newly-renovated train station. The kiosks are equipped on each side with two NEC screens, a 32-inch interactive unit and a 46-inch display in portrait mode.
In 1939, the first television was demonstrated at the World’s Fair in New York. According to Nielsen, it wasn’t until 1950 that television audience measurement was developed, and it was another four years until active measurement occurred.
From the 1990s to today, the internet industry has matured in engagement and measurement, but it has taken place over at least 15 years of incredible work by every discipline involved.
There is a lot of attention being paid to proper measurement of Out-Of-Home (OOH) messaging networks. It is a young and growing industry with a lot of key players from every discipline trying to figure the best business model for prosperity.
After attending the Digital Signage Expo and Global Shop, reading through dozens of white papers and articles, listening to the best and brightest minds of this industry, and finding more questions than answers, I wonder: Do we really need to worry about measurement right now? Rome was not built in a day.
What tools do we have to measure?
Last year, the Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau (OVAB) introduced the first comprehensive set of guidelines designed to understand the value of an audience in a given space at a given time. On page 24 of the OVAB Audience Metrics Guidelines, it states, “Three constituencies have been involved: research providers, media sellers, and media buyers.”
Were venues (network owners) involved? If so, which ones? I know of at least one retailer on the Fortune 100 list that was not in this discussion.
In Measurement and Analysis for Digital Signage, author James Bickers writes that “OVAB plans to enforce adherence to the guidelines among its 38 member companies and to promote best audience measurement practices across the entire digital signage community.” (Note: I cite this white paper a few more times in this article, referring to it simply as Measurement.)
What about that community? What about the hundreds, or thousands, of networks that are not OVAB members or OVAB compliant? How will these guidelines be enforced? Do networks have to pay the huge OVAB dues to get accreditation for compliance? Would an advertiser avoid a non-compliant venue? Would an advertiser avoid a retailer on the Fortune 100 list?
Dave Haynes, the brilliant mind behind the Sixteen:Nine blog, wrote an article on February 14, Are you OVAB compliant? Nope…, citing Nurlan Urazbaev of BroadSign and his concerns that the guidelines are “heavy going,” that networks must work with a third party to properly measure the average unit audience, and the fear that, “there will be companies who will start claiming ‘compliance’ for PR reasons, without even reading the guidelines requirements.”
This is coming from someone very active with OVAB.
We know of Wal-Mart’s decision to pull out from the PRISM project, and Nielsen’s eventual decision to shut it down. We also know about POPAI’s MARI (Marketing at Retail Initiative) project. Bill Gerba’s article on January 27, Measuring Out-of-Home Media and DOOH without Nielsen PRISM, suggests MARI may move forward after initial obstacles.
According to Janet Stilson’s article on MediaWeek.com, Coming Into Focus, The Traffic Audit Bureau’s “Eyes On” measurement initiative (“Four years and $20 million in the making”) is set to release ratings on the outdoor industry. This is for outdoor billboards, but what if the results are so solid that brick-and-mortar venues take notice and adapt these measurement metrics to their own environments? It’s traffic, right?
Teri Moore from Digital Dirt wrote in her article, The Measuring Matrix - What’s Real and Are We Ready to Take the Red Pill?, that, understanding the evolution of technology and standards, “…we immediately enforced strict ROI guidelines…allowing us to report accurate measurements to advertisers.”
In Measurement, Scott Templeton, senior vice president of Business Development for Intellimat (now LevelVision), said that he “…has attracted brand and new product introduction money from Coke and Pepsi because I had a digital network and proven track record.”
Rob Winston, senior account manager with Arbitron Outdoor, is quoted in Measurement saying, “Digital signage is not easy to buy. Each network is offering its own unique value proposition and must therefore be evaluated individually. The grocery network, restaurant/bar network, transit network, mall network, waiting room network, etc… are all used differently and have their own merits. Learning, evaluating and deciding on all of these individual networks is hard work for advertisers.”
Bill Yackey, editor of Digital Signage Today, wrote about research and audience metrics last December. In his article, Research Key to Providing DOOH Audience Metrics, he quotes Suzanne Alicea, President of OVAB, stating, “The guidelines are just that. They’re not strict standards at this point. They essentially outline the information you should be reporting. This information should be common across any audience study from any researcher for any network.”
Did Ms. Moore and Mr. Templeton use OVAB’s measurement guidelines? If not, what was their measurement matrix? If it’s different, and if it’s successful, and if OVAB’s guidelines are only guidelines and not rules, why should they move toward a different set of metrics? Because someone else said they should?
Here’s the dangerous part: If one method of metric measurement shows a positive return on the investment, but the other method does not, who should we believe?
The shopper mindset
We know that a shopper’s behavior in certain environments is affected by digital messaging. OVAB’s guidelines provide results for measuring the size of an audience in a given space, and Nielsen research does a terrific job of telling me that digital signage changes behaviors. But what changed the behavior? And how was it changed?
If content is king, then the content should have a measurable effect on audience perception. It’s acceptable to measure the number of people in a given space at a given time, but impact is the missing link.
I believe this is the most important aspect of true audience measurement to consider. How an audience member acts in one location is radically different than how he/she acts in another. Example: You go to Target, a “needs” based destination, to pick up toilet paper and baby food and a pair of socks because you need them.
Your mindset is very different when you go to Best Buy, a “wants” based destination, where you’re looking for a new mobile phone that makes your life easier and looks better on your hip than that old clunker you have right now. If the same spot is running (say, a film trailer for a DVD release) in both locations, and you see it and comprehend it, how can I measure that one location had greater impact than the other?
Herb Sorensen, Ph.D., global scientific director for TNS Sorensen, wrote a superb article, Deconstructing the Shopping Trip (so far!), on understanding the shopper’s mindset during a shopping trip. He writes that a shopping trip “…can be divided into search and selection, with search having two components, the first of which is cruising, which consists of a macro search for the area in the store where sought merchandise is located. This cruising typically constitutes something like 60 percent of the shoppers trip.”
So 60 percent of my time is already taken by wandering around, even though I may know what I want.
Further he writes, “The search and select paradigm highlights the twin barriers to purchase that retailers and their brand suppliers erect:
• Where is the . . ?
• Which one of these . . ?
The first of these plagues the shopper when store layout does not match the shopper’s natural navigational practices and the second when it is unclear which of many options is the right one for the shopper.”
As a shopper, does digital signage fix any of this for me? That’s very debatable. If it does, can we truly measure it?
Jim Lucas, executive vice president/director of Draftfcb’s Shopper Marketing division, writes in his article, Retail’s Ecosystem, that, “…there are thousands of elements - i.e., products, navigational signage, format, layout, departments, aisles, shelf organization, displays, digital signage, interactive kiosks, etc. - all sharing the same habitat. In short, there are hundreds of communications vying for the shopper’s attention.”
David Drain, executive director of the Digital Signage Association, wrote in his article, The Psychology of Digital Signage, about research by Brian Brooks and Kelly Caravan from 3M. Trying to understand the psychology of branding and promotion, Mr. Brooks said, “Branding doesn’t just change our emotional experience, but literally our physical reaction.” Mr. Brooks’s research suggests that a customer’s eyes will focus on desirable areas of the store based on colors.
To this point, I would lean toward charging top-tier brands premium rates on my program if they already have an advantage before the customer even steps foot in the store, especially if I have a private label brand that I want to promote as well. Or would metrics force me into “one-rate-fits-all?”
In Mr. Yackey’s article, he writes about Danoo and its results after commissioning Arbitron to study audience engagement. Seeking to understand the engagement with promoting FOX’s show House, the study found that, “…the ads drove a 25 percent increase in intent to watch among their audiences.”
Here are my questions: Where was Danoo showing this promotion and what other content was around these particular spots? What if I sell the House TV series on DVD? What if I promote a competing drama right before or after promoting House? What if I show a clip of grass growing before the House spot and a clip of paint drying after?
Nikki Baird, managing partner at Retail Systems Research wrote a brief article, Marketing Metrics in the Age of Social Media. After speaking at the Digital Signage Expo she wrote, “…we came to the conclusion that performance is ultimately what matters - because how can you really justify digital in-store media on anything else, given the context of being at the shelf - at the point of decision? But in order to understand the levers that move response, we must make that ‘deep’ effort to understand the why behind the buy.”
Currently, Bill Gerba is writing a series of articles based on his outstanding presentation at Digital Signage Expo. Writing in his article, Digital Signage Screen Placement: Understanding Store Layout, I think he sums up the challenge quite nicely: “Even if you do everything you possibly can to properly integrate your screens into a venue, the differences in personalities, demographics and mentalities of the viewers from one place to the next can make a huge difference.”
It seems we’re rushing to measure something we don’t fully comprehend. We have a corporate phrase for this: Ready. Fire. Aim.
Where do we go from here?
The OOH industry is young and still trying to figure out its place in our culture, still trying to figure out why people act the way they do in certain situations, trying to figure out that elusive connection.
At a time when technology and content are finally developing a synergy that enhances the experience, is it truly imperative that we start measuring right away? This industry is growing so fast that any statistical measurement done today could be obsolete within a few years, if not a few months.
Network operators and venues are in no hurry to become metric compliant; media planners and buyers don’t fully understand the medium yet; agencies are still working toward a full understanding of creative and compelling communication techniques for OOH; OVAB is trying to enforce compliance with only a few dozen members; and there are other companies out there with different and perhaps stronger methods for measurement and definition.
This feels like I should grade my daughter on calculus while she’s still learning to count to 10.
With economy so low, now is not a good time to measure or set metrics based on audience participation with OOH messaging. Clearly the traffic is skewed; huge numbers of people are using mass transit and watching point-of-transit messaging, but retail and point-of-sale traffic has disappeared.
There are probably hundreds of theories and technologies around measuring an audience and message impact. With these theories come dozens of terms and definitions that, even for one who loves to read white papers, make me scratch my head. I have cited 13 sources for this post, and I’m certain I haven’t even scratched a byte out of the digital iceberg.
My take: Wait two more years. Before we jump into the necessity of measurement and compliance, let’s consider our current and future situations. We constantly preach that we should build a strategy first, so let’s do it. For retail, now could not be a worse time to measure customer engagement, so let’s wait for the numbers to come back. Let’s hear every voice from every discipline — the technology providers, the venues and agencies, regardless of size, the research organizations, and every other key player. The more we learn about optimal customer engagement, the better prepared we will be to hit the market in full “bull” mode and apply proper measurement techniques that benefit every discipline.
The following is a preview excerpt from our 2009 Self-Service Consumer Survey, to be made available later this month. –Ed.
The self-service industry has come to a crossroads of customer service and technological innovation.
Over the past two decades, banks and airlines have led the way with ATMs and kiosks, with retail, medical, hotels and ticketing embracing self-service technology in ever greater numbers. Now, we are close to the tipping point of full adoption of self-service technology, similar to where we were in the mid-1990s, when the Internet and e-commerce became inextricably linked to consumer behavior.
The primary evidence of this arrival is that customer requests for self-service are increasing throughout most service-transaction industries. Kiosks are no longer a fad but rather a requirement for many (albeit not all) customers.
None of this is lost on hospitality professionals.
"The depth and range of self-service solutions in the hospitality industry has grown over the last year," said an article in Hospitality Technology. "Consumers are more interested and motivated to use self-service kiosks, and both hotel and restaurant operators are making significant strides in respect to rolling out solutions. While self-service solutions still have limited availability in hotels and even fewer restaurants, the number of rollouts planned will increase markedly over the next four years."
The customer speaks
The same reasons that make self-service popular elsewhere also apply to its applications in hospitality. Consumers want more choices and convenience, and benefit from shorter lines, less waiting and faster service. Control is another big factor. Some consumers just want the choice to do it on their own and maintain control over the experience. While these systems will never replace personalized customer service, they are flexible and offer an increasing number of consumers fast and reliable service. Service companies, then, need to offer guests the option to initiate a transaction and not stop at the reception desk, if that's what they choose to do.
"Hoteliers are seeing that self-service will become an expectation for consumers and therefore a critical component of their business strategies," also according to the above report.
Among technology options, mobile is showing significant promise. "It’s clear that mobile is the gateway to how airlines will interact with their customers in the future for almost anything," said Henry H. Harteveldt, a vice president with Forrester Research. As airlines led the way with kiosk deployment, we can predict that customers will be increasingly demanding mobile technology at the hotel.
A survey performed by market research firm TNS in December 2007 states that when given a choice of checking in to a hotel up to 24 hours prior to arrival via the Internet or a mobile device, 36 percent of respondents preferred the PC, 20 percent preferred the mobile device and 24 percent expressed no clear preference. Hoteliers wanting to move guests to mobile check-in may consider including top-rated options such as "upgrade room" and "choose room based on floor maps," the respondents indicated.
Getting it right
Self-service technology has now passed the "nice-to-have" and early-adopter stages. An ever-increasing number of customers expect transactive, interactive, efficient and elegant user-friendly technology to be available during the full cycle of customer interaction. It should be implemented from the first remote touchpoints through transaction completion.
Key issues to consider for successful self-service transactions are:
Kiosk deployment. Ensure that the units are available where customers want them, at as many touchpoints as possible.
Increased functionality. Adopt the most comprehensive units as possible and retrofit currently deployed kiosks with the latest functionality.
Wireless. Wireless kiosks will increase your customer capture as they provide the flexibility to adapt to changing customer patterns. In short, you can put them where you need them, when you need them there.
Web and mobile access, with barcode functionality
Mobile messaging and marketing. Develop a mobile message strategy to bring the customer into the transaction at the earliest possible touchpoint.
Notwithstanding the appeal of the kiosk and the novelty of mobile technology, hospitality professionals should not neglect the Web.
Web check-in provides guests the ability to remotely use a computer or mobile device to check in to the hotel. This is a direct evolution of the customer hotel experience. Customers worldwide are becoming more and more connected via PC, laptop and mobile phones. The customer has already shown increasing adoption of Web check-in for airline boarding passes. Also, according to a study by Compete Inc., hotel guests want and expect branded Web sites to provide a better "total travel experience." Further, one-third said online check-in was significant to them.
"Service enhancements that are geared to making the pre-arrival experience easier for business guests, such as online check-in, continue to be important guest satisfaction factors," said Linda Hirneise, hotel practice partner for J.D. Power and Associates.
Peter Slifka is a business consultant with more than 20 years’ experience in operations and corporate disciplines. Most recently, he focused on the self-service initiatives for the Starwood Hotels, implementing kiosk programs for Sheraton, W Hotels, Le Méridien, Four Points, Aloft & Element brands.
Given the current economic situation, it’s more important than ever to cost-effectively deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time. Instead of focusing only on the traditional platforms of television, radio, newspapers and magazines, marketers are excited about the ability to use new digital media — via the Internet, digital screens and mobile phones — to reach people wherever they are during their busy day, and in the right context.
Coffee shops, gas stations, ballparks, gyms, subway stations and grocery stores — this medium is everywhere your audience is. Including “place-based” digital advertising in an integrated marketing campaign delivers a highly targeted value message to your consumer and builds overall cost-effectiveness into your campaign, all while providing precision targeting unthinkable just a few years ago.
Place-based digital video has emerged as an extremely effective branding tool. According to research by OTX, 44 percent of adults said they paid some or a lot of attention to place-based digital video advertising, placing it ahead of billboards, the Internet and mobile phones, and on par with magazines, radio and newspapers. And 63 percent of adults reported that place-based digital advertising “catches their attention” — more than any other media.
Historically, the lack of national reach across multiple locations made it very difficult for national brands to incorporate place-based digital video advertising into their marketing strategy. Some companies, however, have begun aggregating individual networks to create a truly national advertising platform — very similar to what’s happened with Internet advertising. An aggregated network approach can deliver more than 50 million weekly gross impressions across nearly 30,000 locations around the country — all from one network.
Beyond massive scale, an aggregated network offers the ability to add sophisticated planning algorithms and Web-based planning applications across multiple networks to make it easy to plan, optimize, buy, manage and measure place-based digital video advertising campaigns. These technologies make it possible for national brands to evaluate the strategic benefits of the medium and quickly plan how to use it to complement integrated marketing programs.
So what does placed-based digital video advertising bring to integrated marketing campaigns? The ability to target timely messages to precisely defined, but elusive mobile consumer segments while they are out and about, working, shopping and socializing. Think of the impact your message will have on your customers in the context of their daily life patterns. Whether it’s pumping gas in the morning, shopping for groceries in the afternoon, exercising after work, or socializing in bars and restaurants in the evening, you can intercept them at relevant touch points in their day.
Life pattern marketing
Life Pattern Marketing allows advertisers to map routines and traits of a target audiences.
Life Pattern Marketing helps advertisers use behavioral targeting to more cost-effectively deliver relevant ads to a highly customized consumer segment. It isn’t enough to know only demographic characteristics — it’s more important to understand what consumers do and where they go.
Read also:DirecTV blimp elevates SeeSaw’s ‘Life Patterns’ for DOOH media
Studying the Life Patterns of various consumer segments reveals what they do during a busy day, enabling marketers to identify a customized Life Pattern for the audience they want to reach. Imagine the power of reaching “Alpha Moms” with a relevant message while they are out during their busy day, or “College Students” in a completely different set of locations — where they are most likely to gather on and around campus.
Another technology developed for place-based digital advertising, geo-targeting, allows marketers to customize a geographic area more aligned with strategic business needs and more cost-effective than broad-based media. This unprecedented precision gives marketers much greater flexibility, allowing them to go beyond specifying large geographic markets and instead communicate more effectively with the people most likely to be interested in their products.
Geo-targeting makes it possible for national brands to use placed-based digital video advertising to market goods and services only to consumers who can actually purchase them. For example, a telecommunications company can run a campaign targeting specific zip codes where its service is provided or around all its store locations to announce a new product or service. In the same way, a restaurant chain can target a Life Pattern in close proximity to its restaurants when the consumers are out and about and more likely to make a decision to eat out. Geo-targeting minimizes wasted impressions and lets marketers focus spend where it will have the most impact.
Geo-targeting and Life Pattern Marketing enable marketers to extend integrated marketing campaigns with highly focused and cost-effective place-based digital video advertising that can deliver specific messages in contextually relevant settings. What better time to tell Alpha Moms of a sale or special promotion than when she is out shopping? Can you think of a better time to reach College Students with an ad announcing a new computer or mobile phone than when they are on and around campus with friends?
Let’s say an automobile company wants to drive young urban professionals who live or work within a certain radius (five miles, 10 miles, etc.) to its dealerships. Using Life Pattern Marketing and geo-targeting, the automaker can design an interactive campaign that runs in targeted local spots around the dealership to reach this audience. With SMS, the automobile company can use opt-in text messaging to provide the target consumers with the location of the nearest dealership.
When evaluating the cost of adding placed-based digital video advertising into the marketing mix, it’s worth noting that most digital video ads can be easily produced using existing assets, so they don’t require a significant investment in new creative. In fact, by incorporating existing text, flash-based graphics and existing video assets, placed-based digital video advertising becomes an integral part of fully integrated marketing campaigns, delivering the same brand messages directly to target audiences in places with greater contextual relevance and immediacy.
There’s no substitute for reaching customers during those fleeting moments when they are open to receiving messages during their busy day. Since bombarding audiences with frequent, non-specific messages may actually result in more resentment than awareness, leveraging today’s new place-based, micro-targeted approaches will pay off in spades. Place-based digital video advertising is a powerful, proven media, and with today’s newest tools for planning, optimizing, buying, and managing campaigns, this media should find a home in most integrated marketing programs.
Peter Bowen is CEO and co-founder of SeeSaw Networks.
This article was originally published at the Promotion Marketing Association (PMA) Annual Integrated Marketing Conference on March 10, 2009, as part of series of thought leadership articles from marketing leaders to educate and marketers and media planners about integrated marketing planning and practices.