OOH Media Challenges Agencies, Brand Strategy Vital
Despite the medium’s collective 16% growth in the first half of 2011, sellers of digital place-based media sometimes feel lost in the shuffle when it comes to making their case to agencies and clients.
Attendees at the Digital Place-Based Advertising Association’s Digital Media Summit conference Tuesday in New York heard a number of senior media agency executives explain what they see as the challenges and opportunities for those in the DPM space.
“There are frustrations,” said conference session moderator David Verklin, now a partner in VSV Ventures and the former head of Aegis Media North America. DPM sellers feel like they get “shuffled around a lot” when they try to pitch media shops. That's partly a result of the nature of DPM itself.
As a medium, it defies pigeonholing. Is it TV, or out-of-home or mobile or social? Usually it’s some combination of those media. And if there is frustration from the sell side, there is also confusion on the buy side, said Susan Danaher, president of DPAA.
Often the question from buyers is “what are you?” According to Nigel Morris, the current North American CEO of Aegis Media, it’s a fair question, given the “discontinuity” within the DPM space. “You have to define yourselves,” he said. But perhaps most importantly, Morris added, in today’s fragmented world where marketers are intently focused on integrated strategies, it’s critical that purveyors of DPM demonstrate “how it works with other media.”
Brands now communicate within an ecosystem, Morris said. “Nothing happens in isolation anymore.” And a key challenge for DPM, he said, is demonstrating “what it delivers for the whole.”
Other agency executives stressed that any media vendor’s first stop at an agency should be the brand strategist’s office. Visits to buyers come later in the process, they said. The role of the brand strategist is to understand all the potential touchpoints where the brand might intersect with consumers. “That’s where you need to start,” said Bill Koenigsberg, CEO of Horizon Media. He said that’s true of traditional and non-traditional media alike.
Steve Farella, CEO of TargetCast, agreed, noting that “we believe in creating the shortest distance between strategy and implementation.” In most cases, that means starting with the strategist. He agreed with Morris that no media “is looked at in isolation,” with respect to brand planning. Asked about the length of spots in the DPM space, Farella said the more important issue is developing creative that is right for the media environment.
Environments vary significantly in the DPM space, from elevators to malls to bars to doctors’ offices, among others -- and each environment requires a different tone and perhaps messaging technique, he said. Koenigsberg urged DPM sellers to do more custom research to support their pitches. Such research, he said, not only helps the ROI case, but also can aid in developing creative that is right for the environment of the media being pitched.
It's no secret that marketers are intently focused on media ROI, said Morris. Thus, clients ask questions like, "are they getting the same out of [DPM] as they are television? And they are holding us completely accountable for that." If agencies aren't convinced that a media adds value, it won't be bought.
Understanding consumer dynamics is critical for everyone in media today, said Morris. Also critical, he added, is knowing “people’s interconnected relationship with media.” Individual channels within DPM “have to understand their role in the consumer journey,” if they’re going to make a persuasive case that they’ll enhance a brand’s media ecosystem, Morris added. He also urged attendees to think about how to improve the scale of DPM. Before Google’s rise to dominance, search was fragmented and hard to buy, he said. The same was true of social media before the emergence of Facebook.