Real Time + Real World = Real World Retargeting

What happens when real-time marketing meets the real world? We’re about to find out, as a number of players have been developing the infrastructure necessary to target and serve ads to consumers in physical locations with the same speed and computer processing power as online’s programmatic-buying platforms. And I’m not just talking about mobile, which is an obvious means of serving ads to people based on their geographic proximities -- I’m talking about good old-fashioned brick-and-mortar.
“Ninety-two percent of all retail is still offline,” Jeremy Ozen, one of the co-founders of Vistar Media, told me earlier today, a fact that I have to admit surprised me when I heard it. But it’s for that reason, he says, that Vistar has been developing a new marketing concept he calls “real world retargeting.”
But first, let me remind you what Vistar has been up to. Basically, they’ve taken the online display advertising exchange model and brought it to out-of-home media, enabling advertisers and agencies to target and serve ads to consumers in physical locations the way they do with online ads. Vistar has been working with a number of agencies and agency trading desks, including WPP’s Spafax and Xaxis units, and already has reached critical mass among the major digital out-of-home video networks, excluding the big cinema ad companies. Next up, he says, is to begin deploying Vistar’s technology into the digital signage industry, giving advertisers and agencies the ability to target and serve billboard advertising.
So where does real world retargeting come in? Well, to date, Ozen says the main advertisers utilizing Vistar’s infrastructure have been brand-oriented advertisers -- the same kind that might be placing ads on television. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a nascent medium like digital out-of-home, Ozen says it ironically has had a difficult time attracting the kind of performance and direct-response advertisers that historically have dominated online’s programmatic media trading marketplace. The main reason, he says, is that whereas online’s real-time marketplace began with performance metrics -- especially real-time conversion data -- that so far has been lacking in digital out-of-home.
That’s about to change. Vistar, and others, have begun working with a number of new data and technology sources that will enable out-of-home ads to be targeted in real-time to consumers at specific geographic locations, and then track the conversions that result in actual brick-and-mortar retail locations after being exposed to the ads. Think reverse show-rooming.
Ozen says the conversions won’t necessarily happen in real-time, because consumers in the physical world cannot necessarily react with the same impulsive speed that they might online, but he says the same attribution models will apply.
“If we serve an ad to an office building, a QSR location or a cab in a downtown district, we will be able to see if that [user’s] phone shows up within the four walls of Walmart that day, in the next week or two weeks from now,” Ozen explains.
Ultimately, the attribution of those conversions will depend on the type of advertiser and product or service being advertised, but Ozen says, noting: “It will depend on the advertiser, but for people with brick and mortar locations this is a really interesting way to bring accountability to a segment of media spend that didn’t necessarily have it before.”


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