Is Place-Based Media The Next Mobile?

Place-based media is ubiquitous. You see it in health clubs, food courts, airports, gas stations and many other out-of-home locations across the country.  But according to agency executives, the challenges to growing ad sales revenue for the sector are numerous.

Among them: It's not a core media for most marketers, ROI metrics are lacking and clients just don't care that much about it. On the flip side, the potential for place-based media would seem great as a complementary media -- particularly for location-focused marketers and those looking to grab the attention of specific, harder-to-reach audiences like C-level executives in the elevator on their way to the office in the morning.

Those were some of the top-line thoughts from a panel of media agency executives speaking at the Digital Placed-based Advertising Association conference in New York Tuesday.

Kris Magel, head of national broadcast at Interpublic Group's Initiative, said he believes there is a lot of “inherent value” in place-based media. It is “a large complementary source of video impressions,” he said. And it's a source he has urged his clients to take advantage of -- although many of those clients resist doing so. “I'm seeing a lot of great product not being bought,” he said. “CMOs are not asking where the hell is my placed-based media,” he added, as they are with other media like social, mobile and specific shows on network TV like "Mad Men."



Barry Lowenthal, president of The Media Kitchen, an MDC Partners unit, said a key obstacle to the media’s growth is that “it's not a core part of anyone's plan. “It's nice to have,” he said, “but it's easy to cut.” He likened placed-based media to the position mobile was in a few years ago. But now for many marketers, “mobile is more and more core.” However, Lowenthal  said, he doesn't foresee that happening with place-based media in the near term.

It's also not the easiest media in the world to buy. That would be TV, which is nearly “frictionless,” said David Cohen, chief media officer at IPG's UM. He said that placed-based should play to its built-in advantage of being location-focused, which an increasing number of CPG and retail marketers are putting resources toward.

Place-based media is potentially more scalable -- industry players could collaborate on larger joint deals and pitch reach and awareness. But Lowenthal said the media offers a more tactical approach for most clients. “If a client talks about reaching C-level executives as they go up in elevators in the morning or commuters, then we'll lean into it,” he said.

There was consensus on the panel that not all video impressions are equal. Cohen said his agency's research shows that “dollar for dollar” online impressions are “more productive” at achieving client goals such as brand awareness, attitude and intent to purchase.

Lyle Schwartz, head of research and analytics at WPP's GroupM, said that each channel has its owned strengths and weaknesses that must be considered in the planning process. TV, he noted, offers the best viewing experience with its big screens -- but the flip side is it is “sedentary.” Out-of-home has the advantage of “proximity to purchase,” he said.

But all channels, said Schwartz, “have to be valued on what the client wants to do, where, when and how.” 

2 comments about "Is Place-Based Media The Next Mobile?".
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  1. Dominick Porco from Adspace Mall Network, October 23, 2013 at 2:29 p.m.

    I agree, not all video impressions are equal. Over the last six years we have seen our unaided Nielsen recall numbers consistently beat TV's unaided recall numbers. In most cases we more than doubled TV's score and that's counting over 30 different spots. The simple reason for this is frequency. Over a typical 90 minute mall visit, the average mall shopper will see a given spot 4.4 times. No wonder so many of them can recall specific spots without any prompting!

  2. Steve Gurley from Pyrim Technologies, Inc, November 3, 2013 at 4:49 p.m.

    With all due respect to Adspace, whom I believe does a great job in their respective field, I don't think TV is a good benchmark to compare oneself. Today, everyone is focused on the real-time collection and reporting of viewer engagement and CONVERSION metrics. Media technologies that must employ 1950's-based methods for collecting data are increasingly being eschewed by marketers, agencies, etc.

    Nielsen, acknowledging that TV ads were under threat from mobile, recently announced SDK's for allowing mobile apps to dynamically collect and report actual viewer metrics for "alternative" display technologies such as smartphones, e-readers and tablets (I'm sure wearables will be close behind).

    With the availability of these types of technologies, marketers, agencies, etc. will no doubt increasingly gravitate to ad media that can give them instantaneous insight into viewer behaviors. Ad platforms/technologies that cannot provide copious amounts of real-time information -- particularly on conversions -- will ultimately fall largely out of favor.

    Keep this in mind: The ability for place-based media to collect viewer metrics has not really changed at all over the past five years, but the change mobile's ability to collect viewer data has been meteoric and the pace of change will continue on that trajectory for the next five years.

    How's place-based media going to compete with that?

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