"Everyone is somewhere all of the time."
That line sounds like something Yogi Berra might have said after a long, hot day at the ballpark, but I'm afraid that I have to take credit for it. It's something I said all by myself and it might as well be the slogan for location-based digital media.
I've been referring to location-based digital media as digital outdoor, and examining such companies as SeeSaw Networks, Danoo and Captivate. I've even written about it from time to time. I don't currently work with anyone in this space, but I was recently shocked to hear the size of the marketplace and the breadth of the opportunity for reaching potential consumers.
First off, let me remind you exactly what this is: the screens you see in coffee shops and elevators, on gas pumps and bus shelters. They're all over, inside New York City taxi cabs and in the checkout line of your favorite supermarket. These screens are becoming part of the landscape, unless you live in Sao Paolo, Brazil, where they just became illegal (along with all outdoor advertising), and the aggregate audience they represent can be quite large!
Did you know that by using location-based digital media, you can reach a larger audience than all the viewers who watched the "American Idol" finale? Did you know that you can reach an audience approximately half the size the Super Bowl gets? This is a medium whose bigger hurdle was scale, but scale doesn't seem to be an issue anymore! It's a lot bigger than you think. Location-based digital media may be creating the last true mass medium (as TV fragments, there are fewer and fewer mass-reach opportunities to choose from).
Based on my latest research, there are a few things you need to know about location-based media:
1. It's high-reach. The landscape of companies and opportunities may appear fragmented, but the aggregate audience is actually big. If you gather together the right opportunities, you can definitely create a highly impactful mass medium opportunity. If you examine the model on a CPM/impressions basis, they add up quickly. If you examine them on by reach and frequency, you can achieve a strong share of voice against a targeted audience, translating to high TRPs (which is a more targeted form of GRP).
2. The audience Is measurable. There are actually a number of ways to measure the audience for location-based media. On one end are the old-school standards of measuring foot traffic in a location with a clicker. There are also more digital methods such as image recognition software on cameras built into the screen that measure the length and time of people facing the screen to watch content. Some of these methods are a little Big Brother-esque, but they've proven to be accurate at detailing the audience size. If you're a savvy negotiator, you can leverage actual measurement techniques in your pricing and only pay for actual, confirmed audience. If you're even savvier, you can include a mobile extension (such as an SMS code or some other method of response) to measure interaction, and base part of your pricing on performance.
3. The units are impactful. Studies have been done to show the effect these vehicles have on an audience. If you're in line at the sandwich shop, the screens grab your attention. If you're standing in the elevator or sitting in traffic in a cab, the screens become a form of entertainment and a means of passing the time. Even video screens on cabs are effective, because they're unexpected and their proximity to the consumer commands attention. If the creative is timely and tailored to a local region, they can be even more effective at generating a local response.
Remember that location-based digital media reaches an audience when they're somewhere, at the bus stop or in a cab or standing in line at the coffee shop. Everybody is somewhere, and most likely in proximity to one of these screens. They can be hyper-targeted or used in aggregate to generate a mass audience. And if you aren't looking into it, you can be pretty sure your competition is!