On the eve of the DPAA’s annual “Video Everywhere” summit, MediaPost held a roundtable discussion with DPAA President-CEO and two of the summit’s marquee speakers: journalist and “Frenemies” author Ken Auletta; and Deloitte Digital's CMO Alicia Hatch. In a free-wheeling conversation traversing technology, data, content, brand experiences and an increasingly intolerant and annoyed consumer population, the speakers make the case why digital out-of-home will help get people to turn their heads to — not away from — brands.
MediaPost: Let’s start with one of the themes from Ken Auletta’s new book: the shift from Mad Men to Math Men.
Barry Frey: What the summit addresses is basically the societal and media technology changes on how everybody consumes media today. It's labeled the Video Everywhere Summit because now we have become an omnichannel environment with media and advertising all places and on all screens in the consumer’s daily journey.
As a society, we're spending more time out and about than ever. With that societal change, it’s not just that in-the-home media is becoming fragmented and going down, but now 80% of the Western world’s population is located in urban centers. We’re spending 70% of our time outside the home — and it’s really shifted consumption.
And that’s just one leg of a three-legged stool, which is that out-of-home advertising is now digital. That means better data, and the use of mobile data, and tons of other kinds of data like visual detection. That means we’ve gone from a branding and a reach medium to a bottom-of-the-funnel medium, where we can actually see activity from ads, whether it is increased activity online or people going into stores.
In terms of the summit, we’re going to open with a film produced by Screenvision showing consumers on their journey throughout the day.
We’ll also be mixing in a bit of politics right before the midterms, so we’re going to have the founder of Axios and political pollster Frank Luntz to talk about data, politics and advertising.
Ken Auletta: One of things I learned in in the two-and-a-half years I spent reporting “Frenemies” is that the public is increasingly tired, exhausted, annoyed with traditional advertising. More so when you think about the mobile phone, which is the dominant instrument now in our lives.
It feels like an interruption. And if you look at some of the data, 20% of Americans have an ad blocker on their phone. And one third of Europeans do, too. They’re blocking all ads. If you look at Nielsen numbers, roughly 55% of people who record a show skip the ads when they watch that show.
One of the opportunities that Barry’s organization has is new ways of reaching consumers with ads that don’t feel familiar, interruptive and annoying.
Frey: That’s a great point. We don’t have any ad blocking. And we don’t have any brand safety issues that [Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer) Marc Pritchard is always talking about. No bot fraud issues or viewability.
Alicia Hatch: We’re also seeing with the new generation they don’t differentiate between digital and physical. They tend to weave it together very seamlessly. And when it’s not, that’s their version of interruptive.
We look at digital out-of-home as native advertising, because you can seamlessly weave it into their lives in a way that feels authentic. And the air itself becomes a platform for them to engage with -- where it’s the surround sound of your life. It has an opportunity to ride this wave, where brands are all pivoting around actually delivering brand experience vs. just branding.
In a world where you are actually delivering brand experience, it is across every aspect of your business, down into the guts of your supply chain, the financial decisions you make, what you decide to research, all the way into your call center and how you are engaging your customers. All of that speaks to what your brand is about. What your “why” is. And your why ultimately gets delivered through experience.
Digital out-of-home absolutely has a chance to leapfrog as a channel in the way it participates and innovates on the power of brand experience.
MediaPost: Clearly, that’s the promise. But is it actually delivering? Is it actually creating a better experience for consumers with brands? I suspect that some of what Ken Auletta found in his research about people blocking ads might relate to digital out-of-home, too: People are being interrupted too often. Don’t people have the ultimate ad-blocker in out-of-home situations, which is that they can simply turn their head?
The question is, what is the industry doing -- the DPAA members -- to get people to turn their heads to, not away from, a brand experience? How’s that working? Is it getting better?
Frey: Great question. It used to be that out-of-home media had one ad on the side of a building for a month, but now, because of digitization, we have content on screens.
Our members are including news from Bloomberg, Accuweather. Intersection has been running public service announcements and breaking scores of the U.S. Open. There is an array of content being programmed in Captivate’s elevator screens or in the back of taxis. It’s content: entertainment, news and information, which does cause people to turn and look.
In addition to the content, we are targeting by environments that are relevant to the people there. No longer is it just advertising, but it’s relevant content.
If you look at data about television, what television does best -- live, marquee, event-driven television programming like the Oscars, Emmys and Super Bowl -- all that is down double digits. And to some degree, that’s because you can see the winners and the scores on any screen throughout your daily out-of-home journey.
MediaPost: Alicia, you’re going to be talking about AR and the potential for creating virtually unlimited experiences for brands on screens. Is there any concern about the over-saturation of brand experiences in public spaces?
Hatch: It goes back to the way CMOs approach what is possible with these new technologies in media. As Ken said, everyone is tired of being interrupted, and a bad experience -- no matter where it is -- is unwelcome. But there is an opportunity to use AR to add value and literally augment your life. And if it's a value, it will be welcome.
There are a lot of nuances in what those experiences will be, and how powerful and how welcome they will be. And it will take some time for these technologies to be used in those ways. You can bet there will be a lot of missteps along the way, because it’s new.
MediaPost: It’s great that the industry can use all this technology and data and knowledge about people’s characteristics and behaviors to serve them better experiences in more places. But we’re not really giving them any more control over those situations.
The most powerful part about out-of-home historically was that you were a captive user, stuck in an elevator or in front of a screen. And now we’re just creating more of those situations. We’re living in an era of GDPR and ePrivacy and all these potential new regulations and norms for other digital media. Is the digital out-of-home and place-based media industry looking at how to give the consumer more control?
Frey: In terms of the regulations, we’re more interested in the audiences than the individuals, so there’s no issue with the data we use. It’s anonymized. There’s no PII (personally identifiable information). The experience is about delivering the content that is relevant to the places people are. As we get more data, it is helping us to inform ways to put more relevant content in front of audiences.
We don’t want to get near the creepy factor of what the technology can do. We are still just targeting audiences, not individuals.