After lengthy research, the trade group has come up with a metric known as Average Unit Audience, which takes into account both evidence that a consumer has seen a particular screen and the time spent exposed to it. Using factors referred to as "presence," "notice" and "dwell time," the metric seeks to go beyond a simple gauge of consumer traffic in the area where a screen is placed.
Officially, Average Unit Audience is defined as "the number and type of people exposed to the media vehicle with an opportunity to see a unit of time equal to the typical advertising unit."
At the core, OVAB has been searching for a way to quantify exposure to, and engagement with, the growing number of screens operated by its members--theaters, gas pumps, stores, golf carts, etc. But advertisers have lacked a way to compare the medium's performance with competitors, such as traditional television, print and radio. And OVAB felt that may have made them reluctant to invest in the digital out-of-home space.
"We just want a seat at the table where other media are today," said OVAB President Suzanne Alecia, who unveiled the guidelines at an OVAB event in New York.
Alecia said they are only that--guidelines--or recommendations for buyers and sellers, partly because the medium is changing rapidly. The guidelines could serve as a basis for further conversations between networks and advertisers. Or, to undertake customized research projects--possibly en route to the development of an ultimate currency.
It will be up to the individual networks and buyers to decide whether to negotiate using an Average Unit Audience or to go in another direction.
Alecia said the guidelines "represent the first iteration of establishing the necessary data. They're not going to stay static," she said. "They're going to grow as the industry grows and the technology grows."
Research firm Sequent Partners assisted OVAB in developing the guidelines--a process that lasted eight months. OVAB, with 35 members, was formed in 2007. Members include Screenvision, Gas Station TV and Gannett's Captivate Network.