Much of the digital world of advertising has been automated, even if advertisers are only putting a small portion of budget toward it and publishers a minimal amount of inventory. (Well, that depends on whose data you read; some will tell you advertisers are spending big and publishers are holding nothing back.)
Either way, automating online media-buying is in, but some are focused on bringing it out -- meaning outside.
This was apparent last week when Interpublic Group invested in ADstruc, a tech platform that automates some of the out-of-home media planning and buying process. The holding company made the investment for Rapport U.S., its agency that focuses on OOH campaigns.
But what exactly is being automated here, and why bring it to the OOH world?
As for the why, Mike Cooper, president of Rapport, U.S., told RTM Daily that the agency is turning toward automation to take some weight off of the humans. We often hear of companies using automation to “free humans to be more creative,” but Cooper has a different take: freeing humans to focus more on customer service, which is an art in its own right.
As for the what, ADstruc gives Rapport access to 98% of U.S. out-of-home inventory, all of which can be seen in one place and bought through the platform. Some may argue that counts as automation, some will argue it doesn’t.
What is automated, though, is the ability to link digital events to OOH advertising, even if the OOH ad is not on a digital billboard. Cooper said they can now measure campaigns “in direct correlation with other media.” For example, “Who is tweeting about your brand right now in proximity to your billboards? Would the client like to reply to the tweets?”
The data collection bit -- and any desired subsequent reaction from brands -- can now be automated. ADstruc’s platform already has data about the inventory if offers, but the ability to connect social media buzz to specific OOH campaigns will give advertisers fresher data to work with. In turn, Cooper hopes this makes OOH advertisers use their brains a little more.
“All too often OOH is bought purely from the heart. Historically, site selection has been based on everything from proximity, to a large traffic flow or even to an opinion of what looks good from a selection of photographs and a map,” he said. New data and the ability to measure campaigns in ways other than “what looks good?” or “where does traffic back up?” is changing that, Cooper claimed.
He believes the improvements in accountability and delivery -- which will come from automating the planning, buying, and data collection of OOH campaigns -- will help the U.S. ad market grow in this area. And it does have room to grow: Cooper said OOH sees about 4% of the U.S. market share, while in Europe it's about 10%.