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How an Inventory Management System will help media owners unlock OOH’s full potential

As our businesses grow, we update and adapt. More orders? More employees. More employees? Bigger office. In the business of Out-of-Home, the same rules apply to media owners. More panels? Bigger sales team and of course ever-growing spreadsheets.

For larger media owners, with a large number of panels, an Inventory Management System is a no brainer. Having a centralised, purpose-built system for checking live availability, placing orders and managing campaigns is well-worth the investment.

But for smaller media owners, with a steady number of sites, you’re probably just fine managing your inventory on a spreadsheet. As the old saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Right?

Maybe… except there’s another force set to bring complexity to your spreadsheets quicker than you can say out-of-home. The digitisation of panels and demand from advertisers for more targeted, granular purchasing.

Girl using Signkick Trading Bridge Connectivity plus

Thanks to significant investment by OOH media owners, DOOH now makes up over 50% of all OOH in the UK and 28% in the US. This digital transformation has been a powerful driver of growth helping the UK OOH industry to rise by 7.3% in Q3 2018. Predictions are for this trend to continue and, as PWC stated in a recent report, “DOOH is bringing with it profound changes to the market as the buying, selling and displaying of the OOH industry is overhauled.”

One of these transformations is in the way DOOH allows buyers to purchase more granular campaigns. This lets them combine DOOH’s strengths as an unskippable, brand-safe, broadcast medium, with the world of online data and metrics. Buying in 8 – 10-second slots mean they can place more precise, targeted and context relevant DOOH ads than ever before.

When it comes to your sales spreadsheet, replacing a paper poster with a digital screen isn’t a one-for-one swap.

What’s the impact of granular buying on media owners?

For media owners, this shift makes for an extremely compelling sales proposition, but an increasingly complex administrative exercise.

For example, one traditional poster sold in the UK’s typical two week booking period has a maximum of 26 potential bookings a year. In the US, most posters are sold on a four-week cycle, making this adjustment even more pronounced.

A typical digital billboard, on the other hand, typically has six slots available in a loop, each 8–10 seconds long. Across one 12 hour day, that’s six potential advertisers – across a year, 2,190 potential unique advertisers. For one person to sell and process 26 bookings – easy. 2,190, not impossible, but pretty unwieldy.

This is where it gets really tricky. Start adding day parts and bookings via automated guaranteed with one-hour windows and your potential daily total is up around 2,016 different advertisers. That’s well over 700,000 bookings per year.

Add flexible bookings and the number of potential advertisers becomes, well, infinite.

An insurmountable task to request of your sales team unaided.

Digital billboard showing a dynamic targeted campaign

Image via Grand Visual

What’s an OOH inventory management system?

Think of an OOH Inventory Management System as a supercharged spreadsheet. It’s a piece of software that keeps a live, centralised record of all locations, availability, bookings, artwork management and campaign delivery (and sometimes accounting too).

Depending on the provider, and your needs, one system might cover the complete process or focus on one area, while connecting to purpose-built software for another.

How will that help media owners tackle this new way to sell D/OOH?

A live, centralised system brings many benefits, including greater efficiency and reduced risk of human error. But perhaps most importantly, an inventory management system is the first step towards being able to connect your inventory with automated buyers. Once you have a live, digital inventory you will (with the right tools) be able to establish connections with the different automated buying platforms such as Posterscope’s ECOS, MediaCom’s Trading Desk and Talon’s Plato.

Some providers of full-service Inventory Management Systems for OOH include:

  • Fusion by Key Systems
  • SmartBRICS by JC Decaux
  • LiveDOOH
  • Ayuda
  • Aureus by Kinetic

Here at Signkick, while we don’t offer a full-service Inventory Management System, we do offer Connectivity+. This add on to Signkick Trading Bridge is ideally suited to media owners with less than 300 frames. Advancing you from spreadsheets to online visibility of your inventory through an easy-to-use platform, you’ll be able to manage automated bookings and place manual ones, to keep up with your competition.

For larger media owners, with existing inventory management systems, we’ve already pre-built the API connection between Signkick Trading Bridge and Fusion. And we’re ready and waiting to integrate with whoever you choose.

Investing in an inventory management system makes it easy for buyers of the future to choose you and frees your sales team to focus more time on what they do best – sell more space. As Primesight’s Mungo Knott puts it “In the past, media owners have been comfortable making huge investments in high-quality advertising sites rather than software development. Investment is now necessary in inventory management systems to ensure we continue forward as an industry.”