From Desks To Desktops: WSJ Office Net Brings Audience Retargeting To Digital Out-Of-Home

In another step toward emulating the way online media is bought and sold, a major digital out-of-home player has quietly developed a method of audience “retargeting” that can extend the reach of place-based consumers online. The initiative, which was developed by The Wall Street Journal Office Network and B2B audience data firm Bizo, enables advertisers who run ads on WSJON’s screens in office buildings to serve ads to those same office workers when they are subsequently on their online browsers.

The bricks-to-clicks retargeting model, which was beta tested last month by financial services marketer Oppenheimer Funds, is the latest example of digital out-of-home media outlets adopting or mimicking the ability of online media.

In the past year, a start-up called Vistar has created a programmatic audience-buying exchange for digital out-of-home media that’s akin to the online industry’s RTB exchanges, and WPP’s Spafax unit has developed DMP (data management platform) and DSP (demand-side platform) infrastructure for buying out-of-home media in the same ways online is.



“This bridges the two worlds,” says Jim Harris, CEO of WSJON, which has been collaborating with both Vistar and Spafax, and began developing the new audience retargeting scheme with Bizo as a means of extending its reach of office works and business executives online.

While there are no audience-tracking cookies in WSJON’s method, Harris says the office network has detailed data on the people in the office buildings it distributes in, and that data is correlated with Bizo’s humongous B2B audience database that can follow those workers online by targeting company IP addresses, etc.

In effect, Bizo is functioning as a DMP, enabling WSJON advertisers to identify the same or similar users online and serve ads to their browsers. Bizo claims to reach more than 85% of the U.S. business audience, and has methods of segmenting them into unique clusters that are similar to the kinds developed by online DMPs.

“It’s not as one-to-one as dropping a cookie on someone who has gone to and then serving them another ad based on that,” Harris explains, adding, “It’s retargeting on a company level.”

The result is that WSJON can extend the reach of advertisers seeking to reach those company employees by a multiple of 10. Harris estimates the WSJON reaches about one million people daily, and the retargeting platform with Bizo can extend that to 10 million online.

Long-term, Harris says WSJON hopes to refine the ability to target and serve ad messages in a way would enable marketers to coordinate the messages people see when they enter or leave a building and the ones they see afterward online.

(Top-to-bottom: A rendering of an Oppenheimer Funds ad shown on an office screen, and one shown on a desktop browser.)

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