Has AT&T entered hyper-local Digital OOH business?

February 13, 2011 by Dave Haynes

The companies that for decades built their business around selling display ads into “yellow pages” phone directories have always seemed like a pretty good fit for selling hyper-local advertising on Digital Out Of Home networks.

They are deeply experienced in selling ad space to businesses that don’t otherwise advertise, and dealing with the baggage that can come with small business marketers who don’t have ad budgets and would like to pay in free coffees or dry cleaning.

The directory people also have a strong vested interest in developing new inventory, since the web and now mobile have made those directory less and less relevant, and increasingly thin.

We’ve heard stuff here and there, but not seen very much evidence that the big telecoms who either own or have interest in local yellow pages publishers. A video spotted on YouTube suggests AT&T is now playing directly in DOOH through its Yellow Pages sales force, though they aren’t exactly shouting it from the rooftops.

The telecom giant’s AD Solutions unit has a YouTube channel and there is a video up (since Jan. 31) about its Digital Neighborhood Advertising offer. In animated graphics, it walks viewers through the idea of hyperlocal advertising on digital screens, and how AT&T’s neighbourhood advertising solution can drive all that.

THAT’S the entirety of the information about this service. The info on the video encourages those interested to click their way over to AT&T Advertising Solutions, where they will find … absolutely nothing else about this program.

There’s print, online, m0bile, direct, but no DOOH. No neighborhood. It didn’t even make “additional solutions”. I tried web searches. I tried poking around AT&T corporate releases. Zippo.

This effort is likely in its embryonic stages, and all the pieces aren’t in place. But it would seem only rational that if a video is circulating, there would be supporting materials online. AT&T has a booth at DSE, so maybe the plan is to make some noise in a launch this week or next?

In theory, it’s a smart move for the telecom because they need a new set of pots and pans to peddle, hyper-local is right in their wheelhouse, and it is far too costly and hard for regional and local DOOH networks to support their own sales forces. AT&T also has a digital signage hardware/software offer with a partner (Stratacache, I’m reasonably sure) and other services it could layer into arrangements with local businesses.

I assume this play is around selling ads for other networks and for individual businesses who’ve put in their own screens and want to offset costs. But that’s a guess.

Perhaps we’ll see more on this in the next week or so?

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