Putting up a screen does not make you a medium: agency CEO

April 18, 2011 by Dave Haynes

Last week’s Digital OOH forum in New York, run by the trade publisher MediaPost, was a too-rare opportunity to get insights and candor from very senior agency people.

I’ve been going through my notes and think it’s worthwhile to dig a little deeper into what some of them had to say.

First up is Connie Garrido, who oversees the out of home and digital out of home planning as the CEO at Posterscope’s US offices. She therefore has serious influence over many millions spent by major brands.

She was asked what were the big challenges for Digital OOH network operators, and she suggested the industry needed as much standardization as possible and then, working off those standards so planners can do apples to apples comparisons, networks need a presence in the buying systems they use – which might be their own but might also be the sorts of databases that firms like SeeSaw, Adcentricity, DOmedia and rVue have all built and steadily enhance.

“There has to be some adaptation,” said Garrido, “of trying to incorporate your system into something that makes it easier for planners to understand and buy.”

More fundamentally, though, Garrido said network operators need to understand the business of media planning and consumer insights.

“You need to understand what your screens offer from a mindset perspective, from an audience perspective, and understand how that fits into overall media planning,” she added.

A network operator may well believe its technology, programming, delivery method, whatever it may be, makes what it has a no-brainer buy. However, “if you don’t understand what the objectives of the planners are, which is getting to the end consumer, and how that ad can play in and how you can parlay that into a solution, then you are selling something that you don’t know that people need to buy. You are trying to sell a square peg for a round hole, and I think that’s where most of the problem comes from.”

“There is a selling mentality of this is what I have to offer, and it’s great,” explained Garrido. “But (they assert that) without really understanding the buying mentality, and more importantly, the planning mentality, that it has to fit within the constructs of the communications architecture. ‘What do you deliver? What’s the audience? What’s the mindset? What’s the place?'”

“Just because you are able to put up a screen, does not make it a medium. It is all about what your screen can deliver. And what is the unique proposition that you bring to the table that the advertisers can use to expand their reach among the targets that they want?”

The digital OOH highway is littered with the carcasses of companies that went into the ad business without really understanding it. If your network aspires to tap national media dollars, it’s really important to understand how they work and how they buy.


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