Out-Of-Home Video Industry Launches New Ad Bureau, Targets Advertisers, Agencies

Television has the TVB and the CAB. Radio has the RAB. Online has the IAB. Now one of the fastest growing forms of digital media - out-of-home video networks - has its own advertising bureau. In ads breaking today in one of the most visible examples of the medium on Madison Avenue - the elevators of high-rise office buildings that house major ad agencies - the new Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau (OVAB) will inquire, "Advertising in the home just not what it used to be?"

The ads, donated courtesy of Gannett's Captivate Network elevator network, a founding member of OVAB, end with the tag: "Let us help you sort it out."

The "us" includes some of the highest profile players in the emerging field of place-based television. In addition to Captivate, founding members of OVAB include in-store media giant Premiere Retail Network; AdSpace and Simon Brand Ventures, which operate networks in malls; Channel M, which operates inside GameStop video game stores; health club network ClubCom; Office Media Network; Reactrix Systems; The Hotel Networks; Transit Television Network.

Missing from the list are big supermarket based networks like InStore Broadcasting Network and SignStorey, as well as cinema advertising networks like ScreenVision and Regal Cinema, which currently are members of their own Cinema Advertising Council.

The goal is to broaden OVAB's membership to ultimately include all forms of out-of-home video advertising and programming networks, says Mike DiFranza, president and general manager of Captivate, and acting president of OVAB until the not-for-profit can recruit a full-time executive to lead it.

"The charter is to work with the agencies and advertisers to identify the issues that are preventing the scale and adoption of our industry," says DiFranza, adding that OVAB has been created to do for digital out-of-home video networks, what the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau did for cable TV during the 1980s and what the Interactive Advertising Bureau did for online during this decade: set standards and guidelines for advertising in the new media, and to provide a collective voice for promoting it on Madison Avenue.

DiFranza acknowledges that OVAB faces some unique challenges, because its members are so varied and utilize some markedly different platforms and venues, but they all have one thing in common: they all provide a combination of advertising and programming, and they all deliver it into an out-of-home location. Other than that, it can get confusing, and one of the main goals of OVAB is to clear that up.

"Agencies are really designed to buy and plan traditional media," DiFranza asserts, including online ad a traditional medium. "They are organized that way. There is TV and print and there is interactive."

As a result, DiFranza says it often is difficult for out-of-home video players to figure out who actually has responsibility and ownership for their medium within an agency. "We're somewhere in between outdoor and the broadcasting department," he says. Others might argue that in-store and other retail-based video networks are more aligned with the burgeoning retail operations emerging within some big agencies.

In fact, some recent studies including a new report from Profitable Channels suggest that cinema advertising and in-store networks are the biggest and fastest growing segment of the digital out-of-home video marketplace.

Another big question is where mobile video falls, including video distributed to cell phones and other hand-held devices. The mobile industry already has the Mobile Marketing Association.

It is just such diversity and the lack of uniformity that DiFranza says will likely to be the first issue for OVAB to tackle. He says the bureau plans to organize an advisory board of agency and advertiser executives to help figure out some standardized definitions for the out-of-home video, as well as how to measure it.

"There are no standards in our industry," he explains. "I have my impressions methodology and the guy down the street has his. So nobody can build the tools to rationalize them."

DiFranza says OVAB plans to work closely with other out-of-home media organizations, especially the Outdoor Advertising Association of America and the Traffic Audit Bureau, of which many of OVAB's members are also members. He also said OVAB would likely support the audience research methods and systems being developed by the TAB, which some industry observers consider to be a blueprint for other media to come, because they take into consideration not simply whether someone has an opportunity to see an advertising message, but whether they have a likelihood to see one based on their proximity to it.

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