Frank Resigns As Geopath President, 'Coup By Anna' Cited

Following a series of unusually aggressive actions by what would be expected to be a partner trade association, Kym Frank has resigned as president of Geopath, the advertising and media industry's only media-measurement organization jointly overseen by advertisers, agencies and media suppliers.

The timing of the move is almost equally as intriguing as the events leading up to it, because it happened in the middle of "Future Proof: OOH Media Conference," an annual out-of-home media conference jointly hosted by Geopath and the Out-of-Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA), which alternately serve as lead host and conference programmer.

This year's event, which ends today, was programmed by the OAAA, and is scheduled to kickoff this morning with a keynote by Frank, which was previously recorded.



But executives said Frank resigned when several of Geopath's board members (many of whom are also on the OAAA's board) expressed a lack of confidence following a series of events leading up to this year's conference, especially the OAAA's surprise issuance of various industry standards that appear to encroach on other peer trade organizations -- especially Geopath, but also the Digital Place-Based Advertising Association (DPAA).

"Coup by Anna" was how one knowledgeable source described it, referring to OAAA President Anna Bager.

In recent weeks, the OAAA has issued new measurement standards for both overall out-of-home advertising measurement as well as a mobile media measurement standard for digital out-of-home media, and according to one sources, both were made without consulting the other relevant trade bodies.

While trade associations often are not in lockstep in their approach to industry standards and other initiatives, because their job is to service their own membership first, such tensions between trade associations are usually uncharacteristic unless they represent rival media, explicitly.

And what makes the OAAA's ambush of Geopath so striking is that Geopath is actually the only media-measurement organization that is operating as what people outside the U.S. would call a "JIC," or joint industry committee in which all sides -- advertisers, agencies and media suppliers -- jointly set the standards, methods and execution of the measurement system.

Equally puzzling is the fact that the OAAA's new out-of-home advertising-measurement standard appears to be a regression from what many consider to be a higher one developed by Geopath under Frank's leadership.

Frank, who joined the nearly 80-year-old Traffic Audit Bureau (TAB) as president six years ago, rebooted it as Geopath and pushed to elevate its methodology to what some have described as a "likelihood-to-see" advertising model, because it utilizes an "eyes-on" method that estimates when people actually look at out-of-home advertising.

Most, if not all, other media measurement currencies utilize what often is described as an "opportunity-to-see" -- meaning they only estimate that consumers are able to see the ads.

The new measurement standard issued by the OAAA reverts the out-of-home measurement industry's currency to an "opportunity" from Geopath's "likelihood" metric.

The OAAA also recently issued new "industry-wide" standards for utilizing mobile media for measuring digital place-based media, which appears to have encroached on the DPAA's turf, and this week it issued a "Digital Video Out-of Home (VOOH) Buyers Guide," which also appears to usurp the DPAA.

While Geopath's Frank comes out of a traditional media research background, OAAA's Bager took the helm of the OAAA in the fall of 2019 after serving as a long-time executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

6 comments about "Frank Resigns As Geopath President, 'Coup By Anna' Cited".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, May 26, 2021 at 12:06 p.m.

    One correction and a little history.  GeoPath, under Kym Frank, significantly updated and refined the various data collection techniques in an evolving mobile digital world that underpin the reporting of the 'Eyes-On' OOH currency audience data which was established under TAB, its predecessor.  Prior to Anna Bager, the OAAA had already required TAB/GeoPath to drop the exquisitely and brilliantly termed, "Eyes-On" OOH currency  description to "OOH Ratings" which I castigated at the time!
    OOH Ratings were subsequently referred to as "Likelihood-to-See" at GeoPath which does not give the GeoPath methodology and the OOH sellers the complete sense of the value of its unique audience ad exposure measurement currency to advertisers and their media agencies versus other major media.
    If OOH returns to impressions or OTS, Opportunites-to-See, it WILL, and should, be discounted along with all the audience data for other media that merely report impressions and that need to be adjusted to exposure to the ad by the target audience medium by medium.  As the agencies and notably the OOH Specialists know, no "Eyes-On" (or Ears-On) ad exposure, no ad outcomes! 
    As a JIC, GeoPath is a non-profit, tri-partite organization that while funded primariiy by the sellers must be controlled by the agencies and advertisers to ensure a level playing field and to embrace unbiased best practices. This is surely yet another instance of the OOH industry shooting itself in its foot.  Actually both feet!  As a senior internationally recognised OOH executive said of the OOH industry in the US, "Its deja vu all over again!" 
    So, why did the media agencies allow the sellers, via OAAA, to unequivocally devalue the OOH currency and ignore ESOMAR's Global Guidelines on OOH audience measurement?  And why did they turn a blind eye to the apparent coup at GeoPath?  And in the middle of the OOH Annual Conference!!!   Advertisers should be extremely concerned.  Do these events demand an ANA investigation? 

  2. Nigel Emery from Emery Consulting, May 26, 2021 at 12:38 p.m.

    Well said Tony. Thanks for cutting through the smoke and mirrors once more.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 26, 2021 at 1:14 p.m.

    Tony, as I have said in a number of postings the move to  "impressions"--- no, matter how it was handled or whose feathers were ruffled----is a great leap backward---not foreward. What's a little surprising is the fact that the average "eyes-on" measuremnet for OOH posters ---if I'm correct on this---was around 50-60%. In case the OHH folks aren't aware of this, that percentage compares very favorably with what one might get for TV as well as radio, magazines, newspapers and digital media. In fact the OOH "eyes-on" percentage per poster "pass by" is higher than TV's norm for commercials which TVision tells us as around 40%. So why hide these positive "exposure" numbers and why be so secretive?

  4. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, May 26, 2021 at 1:55 p.m.

    Per my Op Ed on the OAAA "Impressions" document, it is a great leap backwards indeed -    especially versus competitive media.  Putting other media's Ad impressions delivery aside, based on OAAA audience impressions a 10x23 Poster, well away from on the other side of Interstate 95 and unlit and parallel to the road will have the same impression count as a 14x48 Bulletin very close to the right side of the same part of Interstate 95 positioned at right angles to the traffic flow and lit.  How do the sellers propose to reconcile that disconnect? 

  5. Joseph Mancino from GreenSigns, May 26, 2021 at 5:05 p.m.

    Good stuff here Tony, and I agree with you 100%.

    As an operator/owner, I am pretty much seeing red right now. I almost canceled both my memberships to OAAA and Geopath today.

    I can't believe this is happening, and happening right as we are trying to climb out of a world wide pandemic. I am just stunned at the level of obtusness of this move...or is it arrogance?

    So Mr. Geopath and Mrs. OAAA - how should my customers buy my product TODAY? Because today is what really matters at this point, not the future. We won't have a future unless we take care of today.

    Rant finished. I am really ticked off.

  6. John Grono from GAP Research, May 26, 2021 at 7:16 p.m.

    It beggars belief that they want to revert to impressions.

    I agree with Ed that the 50%-60% eyes-on is probably the most likely average for most media.   It would be like TV saying they broadcast the ad to 120 million homes with TV aerials so that's the number of impressions.

Next story loading loading..