Aggregating The Aggregators

As digital out-of-home video networks grow by leaps and bounds, a separate industry has emerged that's devoted entirely to collecting networks together to offer media buyers a single point of sale. As intermediaries, they usually don't own the place-based networks they deal with; their value proposition to media planners lies in the objective analysis of each network's capabilities, and aggregating the right networks to achieve a particular campaign's goal. Following is a roundup of some of the companies that, well, round up out-of-home video networks.

One of the best known aggregators is San Francisco-based SeeSaw Networks, which has partnered with over three dozen digital out-of-home video networks, allowing media buyers to reach consumers throughout the day via different venues. For example, its affiliate Ripple operates digital displays in Coffee Bean shops and Robeks juice bars (morning); PumpTopTV serves gas stations (mid-day); the Wellness Health Education Network reaches health clubs (afternoon); and Buzztime and Ecast reaches restaurants and bars (evening). SeeSaw began on the West Coast, but has rapidly expanded its presence in the other major markets, with 1,046 venues in New York, 456 in Boston, 260 in Philadelphia, 254 in Atlanta, and 555 in Chicago. Campaign planning, media buying, billing, and confirmation are all handled through SeeSaw's Web platform.



Adcentricity, based in Toronto, emphasizes its capabilities as an adjunct to media planning and buying, helping buyers execute out-of-home video campaigns with detailed information about the size and characteristics of the audience reached by each of its affiliates. As part of its media planning services, Adcentricity has helped coordinate place-based video with other media including radio, TV, print, and online campaigns, according to Rob Gorrie, the company's founder, who said the company has focused on making sure "we fit into the existing media model, making sure this looks and tastes as much like traditional media buying." To date the company has aggregated over 90 out-of-home video networks, and offers targeting by geographic location, demographic descriptors, and channel (venue), as well as combinations of all three.

BillboardPlanet is a different beast, positioning itself as a software-based online media exchange for the out-of-home industry (including place-based video network) that facilitates media buying. Nonetheless, it offers media buyers the benefit of a single point of purchase for multiple networks, and maintains extensive data about the reach and audience characteristics of member companies.

And there are further variations on the theme, blurring the lines of ownership. Access 360, for example, is a bona fide network in that it has exclusive relationships with the venues where it operates digital video screens targeting young adults. However, the venues pay for and own the screens themselves, according to CEO Lon Otremba, who said these financial relationships allow it to focus on its main business of providing content and coordinating campaigns across multiple platforms, including mobile and online properties as well as out-of-home.

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