Are just one in four DOOH networks even on agency radar screens?

February 2, 2011 by Dave Haynes

A release by Columbus, Ohio-based DOmedia yesterday seemed to get a lot of social media and Google Alert action, but I kinda missed it and figured I’d skip writing about it, because it was well-circulated.

However, I stopped and actually read the release this morning and have a couple of observations.

1 – For a news release that got a lot of attention, there wasn’t much news. It’s a little of the Nov. 2010 PQ Media numbers and a dollop of the mid-2010 Arbitron numbers, mashed up with year-end observations on search activity in DOmedia’s agency-facing media inventory database.

The news is that searches are up 30 per cent from 2009-2010 for DOmedia’s DOOH inventory (the database is both OOH and Digital OOH), and that the numbers of digital companies listed in the company’s database has almost doubled, to more than 100, in the past year.

2 – That last point suggests there are roughly 100 DOOH networks in the US, or probably more accurately, that 100 or so networks have figured out they need to get into these kinds of searchable databases. But PQ Media’s read on the DOOH sector, from three months ago, was that there are more than 425 DOOH networks in the US. What’s interesting to me is how 3/4s of the DOOH sector is, therfore, arguably not even on the agency world’s radar screen.

If you don’t know the company, DOmedia has for a few years been building up a database of out of home and digital out of home media inventory across the US – a searchable record of all the billboards, posters and screens across the lower 48 (at least). It makes that database available to the planners at agencies who control media spend in that country, and takes a small percentage transaction fee (like a TicketMaster fee) off the buy.

The company has gained some attention in the past year because it did a deal with one of the monster agency holding groups — Starcom-Mediavest —  that sees them using the DOmedia system as its tool to find and place media.

My point here is that if you operate a small to mid-sized DOOH network, and information on your inventory is not populating these kinds of databases (and apparently 3 in 4 have not got their stuff in DOmedia’s), your shot at tapping into national media dollars is very, very low. With sooo many options just in DOOH (at least 425, apparently), the decision path of least resistance for media people are tools that make sorting through all those options a little easier.

Faraz Khan’s VP Marketing says: “It’s a matter of demand from buyers, as well as resource constraints in regards to reaching out to priority prospects vs. taking in leads for us to reach a true 100% DOOH coverage.”

“We’ve seen an increased interest in DOOH over the last year from our largest buyers and have begun focusing on targeting these types of sellers. One side note is that the demand from the buy side includes both large networks (for broad campaigns) as well as smaller ones (for unique, targeted campaigns),” Khan adds.

So, while most of the dollars do indeed go to the largest networks (ie Zoom, Adspace, RMG, Captivate and so on), there is money on the table for the smaller networks. But if those networks operators wait to get contacted, they’ll wait a while. The companies with databases are making sure the big stuff gets in there, and will get to the smaller ones when and if they have the resources.

DOmedia is by no means the only company with such a database. The huge OOH planning specialist Posterscope, for example, has its own that it built and maintains. Ad network companies like Adcentricity, SeeSaw, Digital Advertising  Technologies and rVue do things in their own ways, but all work off databases that are fundamental to the targeting and filtering process. And advocacy organizations like the Digital Place-Based Advertising Association is now building up its own “search and discovery” tool.

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