Canada’s COMB releases new OOH planning toolset for agencies

November 29, 2011 by Dave Haynes

The Canadian Out-of-Home Measurement Bureau, or COMB for short, has released a new software platform designed to make buying and selling Out Of Home media easier in this country.

The new service, called COMBNavigator 2012, is for the biggest OOH companies in the country, but the bigger picture is a service covering more OOH and potentially Digital OOH.

“Over two years in development, the new COMBNavigator tool is a quantum leap forward,” says COMB’s President, Karen Best. “Agency and outdoor-media-company users will save time, increase their productivity and add a new level of precision to reach-frequency analysis.”

COMB is a national non-profit, independent media measurement organization that provides unbiased measurement and auditing of out-of-home audiences for the OOH industry, advertising agencies and brands. The planning tool offers outdoor advertising options in nineteen Canadian markets from leading OOH media companies Astral Out-of-Home, CBS Outdoor and Pattison Outdoor.

The service rolls in extensive consumer profile data from BBM Analytics’ RTS so media planners can slice and dice reach, frequency and impressions estimates in countless ways. BBM does the largest consumer study in Canada. COMB says the tool allows planners to develop custom target groups, like women 25-54 who shop online department stores or men 18-34 who regularly participate in adventure sports.

The reach-frequency model, says a news release, was developed by Richard Jean of RJA, a long-time Canadian media modelling expert. Noteworthy is the first-time inclusion of real-world travel pattern data, which adjusts the mathematical probability model (the typical means of building reach-frequency curves) to reflect how Canadians travel within their cities and are exposed to outdoor advertising.

Using GPS technology, COMB studied Canadians’ driving patterns over a seven year period in five Canadian markets. In total, over 265,000 kilometres were tracked, generating 980,000 exposures to COMB outdoor advertising. “The hybrid design which incorporates both statistical probability and empirical GPS data, is a first to be offered to the marketplace,” states Jean “and that offers a new level of reliability to OOH media planners.”

Jeremy Stick, Project Director for COMBNavigator, says planners will love the flexibility and speed. “At-a-glance views of the COMB Data Report, now integrated into the tool for the first time, put more outdoor quantitative data in planners’ hands all in one easily-accessible tool.”

COMB will add, early next year, a flighting module and reach-frequency results in visual graph form. These and future data and software enhancements will be automatic upon launching the application from planners’ desktops.

Best says COMBNavigator does not include Digital OOH, and there are no plans for this for the immediate future. However, the potential is certainly there, she says.

Navigator access is included in agencies’ membership with COMB provided they are also members of BBM (almost always the case).  The big three OOH companies put money into development of the software, and support ongoing maintenance. There are license fees payable to both the developer and to BBM.

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