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Clear Channel to Sell Digital Billboard Ads ‘Programatically’

Date: December 14, 2016

Summary:
The iHeartMedia subsidiary has enlisted ad tech firm Rubicon Project to power the effort.

Body:
Clear Channel Outdoor Americas will begin selling digital billboard ads using automated ad sales technology, the company said Wednesday.

The iHeartMedia subsidiary has enlisted ad tech firm Rubicon Project to power the effort, and says it plans to use the system to sell ad space on 1,000 of the digital billboard screens it owns across the U.S., including those located in some major airports.

According to CCOA, the new programmatic offering will introduce ease and efficiency to the ad sales process, but could also help marketers better target ads to specific groups of people. CCOA already offers clients audience research through a product it calls Radar, for example, which it says can help marketers identify the types of consumers who may view specific billboards.

Alternatively, marketers may have their own intelligence about consumers in particular areas, and might use the new service to pick which billboard locations might best suit their needs. A quick-service restaurant might choose to promote a breakfast deal only in specific locations, for example, based on information about its customers in those locales.

Automated, or “programmatic,” ad sales systems are prevalent in the world of online advertising, but remain relatively nascent for billboard or “out-of-home” advertising sales. Business is typically done the old-fashioned way, with buyers cutting deals with human salespeople.

CCOA expects that to change, according to Wade Rifkin, the company’s senior vice president of programmatic. “We asked clients about this, and the response was that the time is right for them to buy out-of-home through the same platforms they’re using to buy other channels, like mobile and display,” Mr. Rifkin said.

The idea is that marketers will be able to buy CCOA ad space “programmatically” using their existing ad-buying software, Mr. Rifkin said, including tools offered by third-party ad tech companies such as MediaMath and TubeMogul. Those tools are mostly used to purchase online advertising today.

A handful of clients have already purchased CCOA ads programmatically during pilot programs, the company said, including those in the entertainment, financial services and consumer packaged goods sectors.

The system was recently used to purchase ads for Broadway show Matilda The Musical, for example, which appeared on billboards in New York’s Times Square and alongside the New Jersey Turnpike.

CCOA isn’t the only out-of-home ad company using programmatic tech sales technology. Rubicon Project is also helping to power programmatic sales for BitPoster in the U.K., for example, and various other companies are experimenting with the concept around the world.

Meanwhile, ad technology companies are also busy trying to apply similar technology to other media, including radio, print and TV advertising.

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