How Out of Home Advertising is Using Data

Big Idea: Out of home advertising is transcending into the digital ecosystem, adopting new tools for using data responsibly, while providing privacy protections in concert.

Heard at DAA Summit 2017…

Digital advertising never stops innovating — take, for example, the out of home ad market.

As out of home advertisers find new ways to embrace digital tech, they are increasingly relying on the bread and butter of digital advertising: data. And as leaders in out of home advertising look to a data-based future, they are also dealing with questions around privacy — a novel issue for what is perhaps the ad industry’s oldest medium.

To characterize this evolution, innovators helping rejuvenate the industry spoke at DAA Summit 2017, shedding light on how out of home is increasingly resembling online and mobile interest-based advertising (IBA) in its application of data and interest in privacy.

The very notion of out of home ads using data may be counterintuitive — billboards might be considered among the most static and nonspecific forms of broadcast advertising. Taking aim at such misconceptions, panel moderator, Stephen Freitas, chief marketing officer at the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), began by asking panelists — all of them practitioners in the field (no pun intended) — the simple question, “how are you using data?”

Understandably, the panel reported, the data most valued by advertisers revolves around location and understanding audiences who pass there. The better marketers understand local audiences, the more accurately they can assess the specific value of any given spot, whether it be a roadside billboard or a screen in an airport, for example.

“We’re trying to create a personality for every location,” said Andy Sriubas, executive vice president for strategic planning at OUTFRONT Media, seeking information about passers-by like “where are they, what are they thinking at that particular time, are they near a point of purchase, [and] how have they behaved having come from a particular home to a particular job to a particular buying opportunity?”

“It’s about leveraging third-party data sets to better inform the value of that location,” added Mark Costa, chief digital officer at JCDecaux, claiming that out of home was often undervalued before such useful data came into play.

To offer an example of such strategies in action, Dan Levi described a new technology created by Clear Channel Outdoor, where he serves as executive vice president, chief marketing officer. “RADAR” is a suite of solutions that uses mobile data to “understand the mobility of consumers and the behavior that they exhibit [to] help advertisers identify best locations to reach them,” Levi said.

Innovations such as RADAR are revolutionizing the out of home advertising industry, “transitioning a business that has historically been about selling real estate to one that is selling audiences,” Levi said. “Our product isn’t the board, it’s the people in front of the board.”

Data and Value Proposition

Equally important as characterizing locations, out of home advertisers need to qualify the value of their campaigns and demonstrate their success to clients. Audience data is crucial toward this end.

After using data to broadcast a relevant message in an ideal location, the work of the advertiser is still not complete, Costa of JCDecaux said — they need to show results: “That’s where we leverage data, to try to tell the story of how these strategies delivered [on] the client’s goal”.

OUTFRONT Media’s Sriubas explained that he and his colleagues will come to rely on multi-touch attribution to substantiate as clearly as possible how an out of home advertisement fits into an overall campaign and compares to other ad media.

“We want to get to an environment where you can say the out of home ad you saw, and/or the mobile ad that we retargeted to you, informed your purchasing decision,” Sriubas remarked on behalf of the panel. Indeed all panelists agreed that demonstrating efficacy is a requirement to remain competitive, both within the industry and as an industry, in an increasingly digital world.

“When we have success stories, when we have examples of clients that have leveraged this strategy and we’ve been able to provide measured results, we put a spotlight on that and we make people realize ‘this is what good looks like in 2017, now let’s talk about how we can do this with you,’” Levi said.


Figuring out how to harness information successfully is only half of the data-driven performance equation — the other is privacy.

To protect consumer privacy, the represented companies use data on an “anonymized and aggregated basis,” a point all three panelists stressed in part because of past skepticism from government officials and the press. Though, according to Levi, lawmakers who were originally concerned now show understanding — this aggregated data traces general behaviors, not behaviors of any one individual.

Additionally, out of home advertisers look to the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) program for comprehensive standards as the industry integrates digital tech and data.

Costa worked in the digital ecosystem before coming to JCDecaux and found it apt to bring his experience with trade association groups and self-regulatory programs such as the DAA when he moved to out of home.

“In all use cases [with consumers], we to try to ensure we meet those needs of the DAA Principles: notice, choice and transparency,” he said, “in my selection process, one of the big things I look for is ‘are you a DAA [participant]?’”

According to Costa, privacy is now intrinsic to data-driven out of home innovations. “There’s a revolution of sorts happening,” he said. “There is this appetite to leverage new technologies in a privacy-by-design manner.” Indeed innovators like those represented on the panel have DAA Principles adherence in mind as they build privacy into their data-driven strategies from the ground up.

Hear from Ken Klein, executive vice president of government affairs, Outdoor Advertising Association of America, as he discusses self-regulation of data-driven, out of home advertising and the DAA self-regulation model.


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Modified: 2 years