When billboards or bus shelters go from paper to pixels, revenue potential increases as more ads can be rotated in and more dynamic formats can be utilized.
OOH now stands at the precipice of becoming a true data-driven medium. This is a moment of reckoning, when the OOH industry can learn from the mistakes of the online world -- or be doomed to repeat them. As new rules for data and advertising start to emerge in the online space, here are three areas where the OOH industry should likewise look to raise the bar on privacy, ensuring that data does not become a four-letter word:
Minimize the data footprint. In the online world, the collection and use of data have been arguably indiscriminate, the result of an “if-it’s-allowed-then-do-it” mentality. The OOH bar needs to be higher. The scope of data collection and use should be limited not merely to what is allowed, but to what is allowed and minimally required to operate the business.
Location data, if collected and shared, should be obfuscated and imprecise. Cameras should never be used to identify specific individuals or vehicles. Data should be stored for the bare minimum of time necessary (and far less than the one- to two-year standard for online). When it comes to data collection, retention, and sharing practices, less is more.
Do not target individuals with advertising. This principle is a true departure from online. In the online world, there is typically one person consuming content and advertising on a personal device, and advertising often follows people around on those devices. The OOH bar needs to be higher.
Imagine if that pair of shoes, rash cream, weight loss supplement, or pregnancy test that you browsed online, now followed you around in public space, where those ads are seen by the people around you and can’t be blocked. That’s not just the stuff of “Minority Report” futurism; today’s real-time technologies could theoretically accomplish this. Doing so could violate people’s expectations of privacy in public space and lead to the kinds of negative consumer experiences we’ve seen online, or worse. The OOH industry should simply refrain from the practice of targeting specific individuals with advertising in public space.
The OOH industry stands poised at a transition: from a historically data-poor medium to one that is about to join the big data revolution. It has a unique opportunity to learn from the past, standing on the shoulders of online advertising to proactively raise the bar when it comes to the collection and use of data. The right set of choices now can benefit consumers, drive continued OOH revenue growth, and set an example for the rest of the advertising industry.