How to promote an ecommerce store for OOH

5 tried, tested and almost free strategies for marketing an online store for OOH

Amplifying your direct sales team with ecommerce for OOH comes with a host of benefits and is a great way to drive extra revenue for your Out-of-Home business. By making your inventory available to buy online you’ll capture long tail advertisers efficiently, and allow them to purchase from anywhere, at any time and in any language or currency they choose.

There are a few companies doing this well already, take a look at JC Decaux’s Mon Affiche in Belgium, Global Outdoor in the UK or GSTV in the US.

But for your OOH store to be successful, you cannot simply build it and expect them to find you. You’ll need to support it with a robust marketing plan to ensure you reach the right advertiser at just the right moment.

In this article we’ll look at five tried, tested and almost free strategies for marketing an online store for OOH.

How to promote an ecommerce store for OOH

Set goals

First things first, you need to understand what success means for your business and set some goals to keep your team on track. For most businesses, money in the bank is the most important metric and an easy one to measure through an ecommerce store.

But additionally, you might want to measure your success against other, less direct metrics. Is your online store driving more enquiries to your direct sales team? Perhaps brand new advertisers have discovered your poster sites? Or maybe you’re seeing greater retention of existing customers who are impressed by your new service?

Figure out what success means to you then set your team some SMART goals to aim for.

Turn traffic into revenue

Unless you’re just starting out, you probably have a strong online presence with established traffic already. Nurturing that traffic and converting it into revenue is your website’s most important job. So why delay and risk disappointing customers who are ready to purchase, by making them fill in an annoying form in the hope that someone will call them back? By which time they may have changed their mind or worse, heard from your competitor.

By adding an online store to your OOH website, you will transform your website into a revenue generating machine that allows visitors to act right away with no barriers to purchase.

Review your website for every opportunity to call a customer to action. Your website will be filled with opportunities to entice advertisers to search your sites and book. Do you have a blog? Pages dedicated to your different OOH formats? Evaluate each page for opportunities to add contextual links and a compelling call to action. Taking the time to do this will not only drive visitors to your online store, it will also encourage them to browse more content and help search engines crawl and rank your site.

Using a pre-built ecommerce platform Console, which has been specifically designed for selling OOH, you can curate the experience to focus on what your customer is looking for.

For example, if your customer is reading a page dedicated to the benefits of advertising in railway stations, you can display live availability for all the sites you have in that environment, without any distractions.

Global's online store by Console

Generate more traffic

It only takes one Google search to know there are a multitude of tactics for driving more traffic to your website. Here are a few that have been tried and tested specifically for getting more eyeballs on your OOH inventory.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

One of the most effective ways to drive quality traffic to your website is by making your site visible to those searching Google for the solutions you sell. This is called Search Engine Optimisation or SEO.

Very broadly, there are two main types of SEO: on-page optimisation and off-page.

On-page optimisation

On-page optimisation is about improving the technical workings of your website to be more ‘Google-friendly’. If Google likes the way your site is built and functions, you’re more likely to rank highly for any given search term.

There are a vast array of things you can do here (many of which need a developer to implement) but as a general rule Google likes anything that makes your website more user-friendly for humans. If you choose an off-the-shelf solution like Console by Signkick, a lot of these hard yards will be done for you. But given you’ll usually drive traffic to your homepage or landing page on your site first, you’ll want to make sure it’s optimised too.

Here are just some of the things you can do to make your website more Google-friendly.

  • Speed up your site’s loading time by ensuring you’re using the correct size images
  • Structure your heading tags correctly
  • Make your copy clear and easy to read and break it up with images
  • Give those images good ‘alt attribute’ descriptions that allow screen readers to describe them.
  • Include plenty of relevant internal links to help people navigate your site.

The list of on-page SEO tactics you can employ goes on and on but even tackling a few things will amplify the work you do next.

Off-page optimisation

Once again, the off-page optimisation list is long, but here are some of the tactics we’ve seen work well when it comes to promoting an Out-of-Home ecommerce store.

It’s no secret that converting a customer who is already looking for a solution will take less work than someone who has no idea they even have a problem. That’s why creating articles or blog posts that answer the questions your customers are asking Google is so powerful. And if you answer it well, Google will reward you by ranking you highly!

Online tools can help you with keyword research however the best resource is often the experience of your sales team. What questions are they always being asked? What language do their customers use? Writing content that speaks directly to the things customers are searching for will always perform well and drive traffic to your site.

Nurture your leads

We don’t have to tell you that nurturing customer relationships is your sales team’s most important job. Just because they are now interacting with an online platform instead of calling them on the phone, doesn’t mean you should leave them to their own devices.

With an OOH ecommerce platform like Console, you can configure things to suit your business’s preference. You can choose to keep it open and allow users to browse the map anonymously. Or you can ask them to create an account before they’re able to search.

Asking for a few simple details like a name and email address can create a golden lead opportunity for your sales team. You can then connect your ecommerce store with your existing email marketing software to capture information about their behaviour on site. Armed with this information, you can amplify the work of your sales team by distilling their knowledge into a series of educational and informative automated emails. Exalt the benefits of OOH to a first time visitor, remind someone who abandoned their campaign before purchasing, reach out to someone who hasn’t been back in a while. All while your sales team concentrates on up-selling, closing bigger deals and nurturing your top clients.

Then test, test, test

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many different ways to market your OOH inventory’s online store and what works for you depends on your audience. As any marketer will tell you, the secret is to create a plan, test what works (and what doesn’t!) for your business, then repeat. We hope some of these ideas offer up a starting point.

If you are a D/OOH media owner interested in selling your inventory online, take a look at Console, our white-label ecommerce solution. Or get in touch with the Signkick team to discuss how we can help you sell more of your space.

OpenDirect 1.5.1: what does it mean?

Last month, Outsmart and the IPA’s outdoor specialists announced the publication of OpenDirect (OOH) 1.5.1, a programmatic direct trading standard for the OOH industry. Building on the IAB Tech Lab’s OpenDirect structure, this new standard will become the go-to source of information for those outside the industry to connect with OOH and incorporate it into their plans. It’s a wide-ranging document and if you’ve opened the specification you’ll know there’s a huge amount in there to decipher.

But the idea behind the new OpenDirect OOH extension isn’t to complicate things. Quite the opposite. It’s about creating a common framework that simplifies how we connect with each other and then with new revenue. It lays the foundations for smarter and easier trading of OOH.

This is something we at Signkick have been championing for a long time. But not only have we been championing a more connected OOH ecosystem, we’ve been building these connections on behalf of our media owners. So if you’re one of our customers (or thinking about becoming one!) you might be wondering how the new specifications change things. 

In this article we’ll take a straightforward look at what the release of the OpenDirect OOH extension means for everyone in the industry, how our existing connections to media buyers work under this new standard and, importantly, what every business needs to do to realise the benefits.

What the OpenDirect extension mean for OOH?

The OOH extension allows the existing OpenDirect standard to account for the difference between digital space and D/OOH space. Something that has plagued the industry for some time. The spec seeks to incorporate the many ‘real world’ attributes of OOH – that it is in the real world with real frames each with different physical characteristics. Look out for these attributes termed ‘OOHbjects’ within the spec.

Secondly, the OpenDirect OOH extension lays the foundations for handling new and constantly evolving ways to plan and trade OOH. This is critical in our quest for new revenue as it outlines a standardised way to accommodate the vast array of trading methods. It also offers an alternative to the at times complex SSP, DSP, Exchange structure. This means if your clients want to trade in impacts, it’s covered by OpenDirect. If they want to trade non-guaranteed space, the standard is there. Guaranteed, frames, plays, fixed-time, revenue-based booking. The framework for how you can build your system to cope with basically any way your client might want to trade is outlined in the spec. Simply put, it helps you to speak to your clients in the language they are used to working in.

What does it mean for Signkick customers?

While the OpenDirect OOH Standard has made a big contribution to improving the workflows associated with transacting OOH. There is still work to be done to first create, then maintain, the connection between buyer and seller.

Given our business is all about building these connections, something we’ve been banging on about for a while, you might be wondering what this latest release means for our customers.

In short, our existing connections are still 100% open for business. Most are built around the previous version of the OpenDirect standard and will quickly incorporate the new extension. For our existing customers these connections will continue to operate seamlessly and mean you already have the foundations in place to accommodate any way your clients would like to buy in the future. 

What the OpenDirect extension doesn’t do

Think of the OpenDirect OOH extension as plans for a house. They outline where and how the foundations should be laid and where and how to build the roof and walls. But until someone picks up a shovel and builds the house, no one can live there. The OpenDirect extension lays out the way we should be building our systems and processes in order to accommodate different ways of trading. But it doesn’t build them.

Furthermore, the specification outlines every possible trading model, so it is up to each individual company to decide which parts they will embrace. This is where communicating with your trading partners is critical. Just as a standard is nothing without the system to implement it, a system is nothing without someone on the other end of the transaction. A house only becomes a home when there is someone living in it!

This is where it really starts to get interesting. Right now, you and your trading partners may only be interested in trading frames. By using the OpenDirect standards to build this capability now, you’re also laying the foundations so that when a future buyer approaches you looking to buy in impacts or CPMs, you’re already most of the way there. 

So while the release of the OpenDirect extension doesn’t change everything straight away, it does signal the start of an important period of work for every business in OOH. Now is the time to speak with your trading partners. To get the wheels in motion. Because by embracing the OpenDirect framework in the way we trade now, you’re laying the foundations for accommodating the future of OOH trading. And that’s your golden ticket to new revenue. 

Working in this space for some time and having recently been included in the Technical Standards Committee on Clear Channel’s behalf, we know the benefit every media owner will realise by embracing the standards. To understand more about using the standards to future-proof your business, feel free to get in touch with us at Signkick, Outsmart or one of the IPA specialists – Posterscope, Talon, Kinetic or Rapport.

Voodooh's Location Dynamic Campaign for Lucazade

The proven way to supercharge OOH’s return on investment (that we can do right now!)

As lockdown restrictions ease, brands and businesses are working on their recovery plans. While it’s hard to predict when advertising budgets will flow into OOH again, one thing is for sure: advertisers will be looking to make the most of every pound they spend.

So when they turn to the trusted medium of Out of Home to rebuild we, as an industry, have a duty to use every tool in our arsenal to help them. We are experts at broad reach. Masters of impact. We can build brand awareness like no other medium. But there’s one aspect we’ve been neglecting. One research-backed weapon for increasing Out of Home’s effectiveness: Dynamic Creative.

Voodooh's Location Dynamic Campaign for Lucazade

Voodooh’s dynamic creative campaign for Lucozade.

What is Dynamic Creative?

Dynamic Creative is using data to deliver the right creative content, on the right screen at the right moment.

Using Dynamic Creative in Out of Home allows a brand to speak to its audience in the way that they want, providing consumers with more reactive and relevant content. OOH has traditionally been known as a broadcast medium that enables a brand to tell a story. But with dynamic, the story or message can be tailored to the moment, to the location and the context.

Dynamic Creative in OOH is not a new concept. Originally conceived in online display advertising, Castrol’s ‘Right Oil, Right Car’ campaign from Ogilvy Advertising, Mindshare and Clear Channel back in 2009 is credited as the first dynamic campaign. Using speed cameras to detect the make and model of cars, the campaign used that data to talk directly to drivers via the 48 Sheet digital billboard they passed further down the road. Targeted, high impact and very effective. This campaign did not go unnoticed. 

As the world becomes increasingly connected, more sophisticated data is becoming available to those advertising in the offline world. This data offers up a big effectiveness boost for DOOH.

Grand Visual's Dynamic Campaign for McDonalds

Grand Visual integrates weather data in this dynamic OOH campaign for McDonalds.

How Dynamic Creative makes Out of Home more effective

Picture this. You’re at a crowded cocktail party (remember those?). It’s a small space and everyone is speaking loudly, competing to be heard. The result is a wall of white noise without any distinguishable meaning. Then suddenly, as clear as day above the hubbub, you hear your own name. It is not spoken any louder and the wall of sound has not subsided. So how were you able to hear it so clearly? One word. Relevance. 

This, argues behavioural scientist Richard Shotton, is the impact dynamic creative can have on an individual in advertising. People are subjected to a staggering 10,000 brand messages a day. Using data to deliver the right message, to the right audience, in the right context makes it relevant to that person. It cuts through the noise to connect directly with the intended audience.

Now, thanks to an industry first collaboration between JCDecaux, Clear Channel and Posterscope, this theory is backed by solid research. ‘Moments of Truth’ is the most comprehensive study conducted on the effect of dynamic creative on consumer brain response, ad recall and sales. 

This study found that displaying contextually relevant creative saw a whopping 32% increase in brain response compared to standard DOOH creative. These contextually relevant ads also increased the average time a person spent looking at the ad by 6% and generated an average sales uplift of 16%.

Overall, their research found that delivering dynamic DOOH advertising that is context relevant both in the timing of the delivery and the content, was 17% more effective. As Clear Channel’s Richard Bon commented “For the first time ever, we have been able to develop empirical, end-to-end insights on dynamic campaigns, that not only inform advertisers why content and context relevancy matters but also offer clear guidance on how to best harness these opportunities to maximise campaign performance.“

A compelling argument to present to advertisers as they plan where to spend their precious recovery budget.

Voodooh's dynamic campaign integrating data from Twitter

Voodooh uses live data from Twitter to deliver this dynamic OOH creative.

Why we don’t see more Dynamic Campaigns

Since that first Grand Visual campaign nearly ten years ago, examples of dynamic DOOH creative in action have peppered awards ceremonies and conference presentations. But still dynamic campaigns have not become standard. Companies like Grand Visual and Flux can integrate everything from weather data to traffic, flights to football scores, news to car models to create engaging campaigns that perform at scale.

But still, despite compelling anecdotal evidence, industry heavy-weight support and now scientific research, dynamic creative only accounts for around 8% of the UK’s OOH campaigns. This figure according to Glen Wilson, Posterscope MD, who said, “The ability to deploy truly dynamic content across thousands of high quality, networked digital screens is probably the most significant step forward for OOH since the arrival of those digital screens well over a decade ago.  But its potential is still significantly under-estimated, with media spend on dynamically-enabled digital Out of Home representing only about 8% of all DOOH campaigns.”

Given the obvious effectiveness boost and potential return on investment for advertisers, that’s not high. In fact, Grand Visual’s Neil Morris suggests that “dynamic campaigns are few and far between and the DOOH channel has probably gone backwards in terms of the adoption of smarter, data driven, dynamic creative.” He, like many in the industry – including us – believe there are two main reasons for this:

Firstly, there is a perception that delivering dynamic campaigns require big budgets and technical expertise. That’s no surprise given the brands testing the dynamic creative waters have done so with novel campaigns conceived more for award ceremonies, conference rooms and social sharing than on the ground return on investment in mind. 

Secondly, as an industry we are completely preoccupied – nay, obsessed – with programmatic. That obsession is crowding out the potential of other opportunities. That’s not to say programmatic shouldn’t be discussed. It’s just not the only way to deliver dynamic creative. It’s not the only way to maximise Digital Out of Home’s effectiveness.

Unlocking Digital Out of Home’s potential

The creation of dynamic campaigns isn’t our business (though our tech can help facilitate its purchase), we are strong advocates for anything that pushes our medium forward. There is a huge amount of potential to be unlocked through the use of dynamic creative. And it doesn’t need to be complex or require programmatic trading to achieve. Companies like Talon, Posterscope, JC Decaux, Clear Channel are working hard to challenge perceptions, advocate for and build the systems required to drive adoption of dynamic campaigns. Through clever and thoughtful artwork management, creative agencies such as Grand Visual, Flux, Liveposter and Voodooh offer mass personalisation and deliver the right advert for the context, space, environment or feelings of a community. 

Advertisers will be putting every pound’s return on investment under the microscope in the coming months. Through dynamic creative, we have an opportunity to increase our medium’s effectiveness by a whopping 17% and, as an industry, we have the tools and expertise to do it.

Now is not the time to let that opportunity pass us by.

Advertiser buying OOH advertising online

The Benefits of Selling Out of Home, Online

Advertiser buying OOH advertising onlineWhether you sell Classic or Digital, 96s or 6 sheets, roadside or inside. One goal remains the same for all Out of Home media owners – to sell more space. While conference conversations are distracted by the promise of omni-channel budgets, direct sales teams are back at home base fuelling the machine with local advertisers and brands. So it makes sense to support them with the best tools for the job. And there’s one that amplifies their work better than most: an online store or ecommerce for Out of Home.

Why sell your Out of Home inventory online?

In almost every other industry, ecommerce has been powering an online revolution. Online shopping allows customers to browse and purchase on their own terms: at any time, from anywhere, in any language or currency they choose. And they’re loving it. According to research from ecommerce giant, Shopify, online sales saw 18% growth last year. The UK boasts the most advanced ecommerce market in Europe totalling £688.4bn in 2018 with £165.3bn of those sales in B2B sectors. A sharp increase on the previous year with the trend expected to continue.

Of course, these are pre-Covid-19 figures, with experts suggesting that the current crisis will initiate an even greater shift towards contactless online purchasing. 

So while selling Out of Home is a little different to selling, say, T-shirts, armed with the right tools, there’s never been a more pertinent time to set up a web store and sell your inventory online. Because lockdown or no lockdown, doing so opens up new buying channels and clear benefits for both buyer and seller.

The benefits of ecommerce for Out of Home

Running an online store parallel to your sales team brings with it a whole host of benefits and by using a pre-built solution, these benefits can be realised very quickly. 

Offer self-service online sales

Capture long-tail advertisers efficiently and cost effectively. Let them serve themselves from campaign planning and booking through to payment, invoicing and artwork upload.

Break down geographical boundaries

Enable 24 hour planning and purchasing in different languages, time zones and currencies.

Live, cloud-hosted availability and booking

Create a modern and seamlessly connected ecommerce experience with live availability, instant booking and payment via Credit Card or to an account. Then, allow advertisers to upload their own artwork and keep them on time without tying up your sales team using automated email messaging.

Monitor trends and capture leads

Use the in built analytics dashboard to analyse trends, on-site behaviour and identify opportunities for growth. Then capture detailed lead information for your sales team to follow-up and close. 

Pre-built by us, looks like you

There’s never been a better time to power up your direct sales team by selling your inventory online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As the effect of Covid-19 continues to shape our behaviour and push more of us online, we’re here to help Media Owners get in on the action. Discover more about Console, our white-label ecommerce solution that is directly connected to your website with your logo front and centre. When you’re ready, book your free demo to really understand the power of selling your Out of Home inventory, online.

Demo of Global's online store powered by Console

Open ecommerce for OOH store

How does ecommerce work for OOH?

From flights to fast food, everything we could ever want or need is available online, just a few taps away.

But not D/OOH advertising.

Traditionally, purchasing digital and classic OOH has been a cumbersome process for advertisers and media owners alike. Sales teams rely on spreadsheets and advertisers make phone calls (within business hours!) every time they need price and availability. With advertising increasingly bought by the click-to-purchase generation, media owners must meet their demand to buy D/OOH from anywhere at any time. Enter, automated online purchasing and ecommerce for OOH.

Open ecommerce for OOH store

A ready-built ecommerce store can get you ahead

With the big players moving slowly in the race to automate, there is a real opportunity for smaller, more nimble media owners to get ahead. Through white-label, cloud-based software, media owners can quickly power an e-commerce storefront that automates the planning and purchase of D/OOH to supercharge sales, transform long tail purchases into profitable sales, and overcome boundaries like time zones, language or currency.

While automation is sometimes met with reservation from media owners, software developers are responding better than ever with tailored solutions that allow media owners to remain in complete control.

For some, however, automation still feels like jumping off a cliff into the unknown. But it certainly doesn’t have to start with a great leap of faith. We recommend a stepped approach to transition your OOH media business to full e-commerce. Start (or even stay!) at step one or dive in where you feel comfortable.

1. Launch a private OOH ecommerce store

For media owners only interested in sharing their inventory with those they know, this option is perfect.

  • A closed online platform branded to look like you.
  • Only accessible privately to those you have created an account for.
  • Live D/OOH price and availability on an easy to search map.
  • Pick and choose which panels are listed (and for what price).
  • Create secure logins for staff to quickly check price and availability and manage orders.
  • Choose to create secure logins for regular clients, empowering them to self-serve from price and availability check to purchase, payment and artwork upload.

Private ecommerce store behind a login

2. Launch an OOH ecommerce store where users must create an account to gain access

Capture valuable long tail purchases and build a list of potential leads by keeping your inventory behind a login wall. Perfect for media owners seeing success with option one who are ready to open up their inventory (but not completely!) to untapped markets.

  • Online store accessible to users who create an account and log in.
  • Capture the name, company and email address of valuable leads for your sales team to chase and well as opportunities to cross and upsell.
  • Linked from your existing website and branded to look like you.
  • Live D/OOH price and availability on an easy to search map.
  • Pick and choose which panels are listed (and for what price).
  • Customise the price and availability shown to certain clients.
  • Create secure logins for staff to quickly check price and availability and manage customer orders.

3. Launch a fully open, e-commerce store (think Amazon for OOH!)

  • Open an online store where anyone can search price and availability, but they must create an account to purchase.
  • Linked from your existing website and branded to look like you.
  • Live D/OOH price and availability on an easy to search map.
  • Pick and choose which panels are listed (and for what price).
  • Customise the price and availability shown to certain clients.
  • Create secure logins for staff to quickly check price and availability and manage customer orders.
  • Capture full advertiser details.

It is this scenario many media owners have in mind when staring off that cliff. But operating open ecommerce for OOH isn’t like abandoning your open ledger book at a bar on Friday night. Using software to list your inventory online allows new customers to search, find and buy, while you retain full control over which panels are displayed and for what price. You can even offer tailored pricing to certain clients, allowing them to benefit from national buying power, at the local level.

With good marketing, opening an e-commerce platform for OOH holds unlimited potential to boost your sales success. Better yet, it brings D/OOH to the click-to-purchase generation ensuring you are open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in whichever language, currency or time zone they prefer. But the best part for media owners is the flexibility of automation software that means you don’t have to go full monty to get ahead and start using the world of ecommerce to sell your OOH inventory.

If that sounds like an option worth exploring, take a look at Console, Signkick’s white-label ecommerce storefront for OOH media owners or get in touch with the team.

Is automated trading a risk to your Rate Card?

The Rate Card has formed an integral part of the Out-of-Home landscape since the very first billboard was sold. As defined by 2019 DOOH Glossary of Terms, a Rate Card is “a document provided by a media owner/publisher with its rates for advertising. It may also detail any deadlines, demographics, policies, additional fees and artwork specifications.”

But as we all know, Rate Cards are usually used less as a hard and fast rule book, and more as the starting point of a conversation and relationship between a buyer and seller. In the traditional way of selling Out-of-Home media, a media owner sales representative then has an opportunity to offer discounts or bespoke conditions depending on the buyer. And of course, this offers the buyer an opportunity to negotiate in return.

With the digitisation of OOH inventory and advancements in Adtech, media owners are now gaining access to the opportunities that have been tantalisingly close for so long. Connecting with automated and programmatic buyers, in particular, hold the promise of new revenue streams, big advancements in speed and efficiency and more flexible ways to buy.

What’s the risk?

Like any great opportunity, connecting with automated buyers is not completely without risk. Yes, allowing buyers to access live avails and the ability to purchase more granular campaigns is going to reward media owners. However, without that experienced media exec in between, there is a potential risk to your traditional Rate Card.

The same as any good negotiator, a buyer’s automated system is wired to seek out opportunities and loopholes for discounts. Sometimes they’ll find them where a media owner might not be willing to offer them. But, unlike a human negotiator, it will do this faster than you can say automation, giving media owners very little opportunity to react.

But, never fear, as there’s a solution that means you can have your cake and eat it too.

Restructure your Rate Card

Before you connect with automated systems, all you need to do is ensure your Rate Card is structured to handle the modern world of OOH trading. That way you can make the most of all that automated trading offers with the peace of mind that your commercials are protected. Given every media owner and buyer is different, this will probably be unique to you. At least, that’s been our experience.

For example, one of the big benefits of DOOH is the ability to sell more flexibly. Pricing your Rate Card by the hour (or a similar time-block) rather than the traditional fortnight or four-week period, not only allows you to sell more flexibly, but also lets you set a price that accurately reflects the value of that space. For example, you might have an advertiser who is, say, only interested in hitting hungry workers looking for lunch at 1pm on a busy High Street. This peak lunchtime slot could be priced higher than, say, the same panel at 10am on a Tuesday. The buyer is happy as they’ve been able to select the exact times they’re after, with less waste. And the seller is happy as they’ve sold the space for a price that reflects it’s actual worth.

But perhaps most importantly as we make the transition to automated buying, structuring your Rate Card this way protects media owners from automated buyers looking for and finding loopholes. For example, a buyer unlocking a weekly discount for purchasing one hour per day for a whole week! On the flip side, buyers are given more flexible incentives for gaining true discounts, such as purchasing enough one-hour slots over a longer period to access the weekly discount.

So automated trading does run a risk to the traditional Rate Card. But if media owners are clever and invest a bit of time to evolve their Rate Card structure, it has the potential to open up opportunities and make the medium more accessible and appealing to all advertisers and buyers.

For more information and advice on preparing your OOH business for automated trading, get in touch.

Girl using Signkick Trading Bridge Connectivity plus

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.”

Robot Automation in OOH

Robots won’t replace Out-of-Home sales teams – but they will make them better

For many, automation, algorithms and AI conjure images of a future where humans are dispensed with and robotic beings rule the world.

But when we set Hollywood, headlines and the predictions of the third most popular folk comedy duo Flight of the Conchords aside, we see automation for what it really is. A powerful tool that can transform the way we work for the better. Automation fast-forwards the passage of time to complete monotonous or repetitive tasks with no risk of human error. In the workplace, this frees teams to focus on more important tasks requiring human perception and skill.

Robot Automation in OOH

Out-of-Home is no stranger to the automation conversation. The rise and rise of digital (now accounting for 50% of UK OOH and 28% in the US) has brought about an explosion of software companies – including us! – offering opportunities to automate exchanges between buyer and media owner.

For some Out-of-Home sales teams, this is sounding an alarm. But far from coming for their jobs, automation offers the toolkit they’ll need to tackle new challenges and chase opportunities in the modern world of Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) – of which there are many. Read on to see where the opportunities lie.

Automation will help sales teams process complex, granular DOOH bookings

The way DOOH is bought and sold is changing. Advertisers are demanding more targeted, data-driven and efficient placement of campaigns. In response, specialists, buyers and media owners are working double-time to offer granular, flexible bookings that hit the advertiser’s mark.

This shift towards granular buying has the potential to increase the number of line items your sales team will process by 8000%. That’s before we get into the many availability checks that precede said booking. Add day parts, automated guaranteed and flexible bookings into the equation and the number of potential lines to process becomes, well, infinite.

In this scenario, automation is not just advantageous, it’s necessary. Out-of-Home media sales teams are a vital resource with unique and valuable skill sets critical to the success of your business. But ask them to process that number of bookings manually and you’ll watch those skills drown in a sea of paperwork.

Automation maximises DOOH occupancy

Traditionally, the way DOOH is bought and sold leaves room for waste. And where there is waste, there is opportunity. Automation allows sales teams to offer flexible, granular booking periods that cater to the diverse range of advertiser needs and budgets. Individual spaces now have greater value than when they’re sold as part of a generic pack. This makes for a far more compelling sales proposition for your team!

For big brands, this means national campaigns with granular targeting. For smaller advertisers, they can now target specific local sites within periods that fit their budget. With the ability to better mix large and small campaigns your sales team can increase overall occupancy and bring in more revenue.

Automation increases speed and efficiency

Within every sales team, there are repetitive tasks that need to be completed regularly. This is prime territory for Out-of-Home automation as it can complete these tasks more quickly, efficiently and with no human error. 

Connecting your Out-of-Home inventory with buyers and automating availability checks and reservations ensures they’re processed instantly. This means striking while the iron is hot – even outside of working hours. Letting your team get on with nurturing relationships, hitting targets and closing deals!

What’s next for Out-of-Home?

These are just some of the things you can achieve right now through automation. Automating now will pave the way for further developments as the technology and systems progress. From optimisation to programmatic buying, automation is the first step.

Sound interesting?

If automation sounds like a tool your sales team could use, explore more here or get in touch. As a technology partner for Out-of-Home media owners, we’re here to help.

While your predictions may be wrong, Flight of the Conchords, you’re still our favourite folk comedy duo.

OOH Ecosystem diagram

Connecting the OOH ecosystem

Business strategist James Moore was the first to compare business with biological ecosystems, describing it as “an increasingly interconnected community of companies adapting and evolving to survive.” Moore suggested a company be viewed not as a single firm, but as a member of an ecosystem spanning multiple disciplines.

In DOOH, this couldn’t be more true to life. Our interconnected ecosystem is made up of advertisers, media owners, specialists, agencies, hardware and software suppliers, data suppliers and more. Delivering an end-to-end campaign requires each one – with their unique systems, connections and relationships – to work together.

Add dynamic campaigns and new ways to plan and buy to the mix, and it becomes increasingly complex for media owners to handle transactions in the traditional way. At least at scale.

Connect to automated buyers OOH

How do media owners navigate this increasingly complex ecosystem?

Like many industries, OOH is turning to tech. For media owners, automation software relieves sales teams of laborious manual tasks, freeing their focus for what really matters. Automation also holds the key to connecting with automated buyers, paving the way to new ways to buy and sell and beyond to optimisation and closed-loop reporting.

Are automation and programmatic the same?

Put simply, automation is a brand or agency using a computer program (a DSP) to tell a computer program on the sell side (an SSP) what they want to buy and the SSP responding in near real time.

Programmatic is simply a type of automated transaction and there are several, constantly evolving, models. While relatively new to OOH, Online has been using automated and programmatic buying for some time. To understand the different models, it’s useful to look to the evolution of automated and programmatic buying in Online advertising (where it has been the status quo for some time).

In 2013, the IAB categorised the different models into combinations of fixed, auction-based, reserved and unreserved.

IAB `automation and programmatic Trading Models Diagram

Working predominantly in the UK market, we’ve found the greatest appetite from DOOH buyers and sellers alike, is for the automated guaranteed buying method.

What is Automated Guaranteed in DOOH?

Put very simply, it’s an API that allows a buyer to:

  • Discover inventory
  • Check (near – within one second or so) real-time availability
  • Place reservations and bookings
  • Push artwork
  • Retrieve reporting

All with a price pre-agreed between the buyer and seller – per booking or with a CPM rate for a fixed period.

How do we get mass adoption of Automated Guaranteed in UK OOH?

We believe that mass adoption of automated guaranteed in the UK will ready the DOOH market for further evolutions in programmatic OOH. So, what are the steps we need to get there?

Digitised inventory

Based on numbers from Outsmart and Space, DOOH currently represents over £500M in revenue, which is almost half of the OOH market. As of October 2018, there are almost 19,000 DOOH screens in the UK. We’re moving to a digitised OOH world, and fast.

Piccadilly Lights Digital OOH Billboard

Demand from buyers

While most UK media owners are on board with the benefits they’re unlikely to move until their buyers demand it. In the UK, 90% of planning and buying comes from a small group of specialists and agencies. Posterscope, MediaCom, Talon, Kinetic and Rapport.

With these buyers live, or close to live, with automated systems that have the ability to buy both broadcast and granular, data-based campaigns, that time is now. Those media owners quickest to move have a golden opportunity to take revenue from their competitors.

Connectivity

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, each part of the campaign delivery puzzle must connect and speak seamlessly to the next.

With the introduction of industry standards, such as IAB’s OpenDirect 1.5.1, some progress has been made. But to achieve complete connectivity, there are many more technical hurdles to be overcome.

Which is why we’ve introduced Signkick Trading Bridge.

Signkick Trading Bridge is the friction-free way for D/OOH media owners to connect and trade with automated buyers.

Whether you are a top-tier media owner looking for compatibility, or a challenger brand starting from scratch, Signkick Trading Bridge can help you get ahead. Get in touch or head here to find out more.

Cloud hosted software for OOH

OOH Software: Cloud-Hosted or On-Premise?

The software you choose to power your OOH business can have a lasting impact on your bottom line. While there are many different providers and offerings, most software falls into one of two categories – ‘Cloud-Hosted’ or ‘On-Premise’.

There are a host of differences that you’ll want to weigh up before you make a choice. The easiest way to wrap your head around these differences is to use a comparison we’re all familiar with – the vehicles you use to get around.

But before we buckle up and get going, we need a quick explanation of the difference between ‘The ‘Cloud’, and ‘Cloud-Hosted’ software. Because these terms are often, incorrectly, used interchangeably.

Cloud hosted software for OOH

What’s the difference between ‘The Cloud’ and ‘Cloud-Hosted’ software?

‘The Cloud’ refers to the technical infrastructure and services that store, manage and process data. This infrastructure is physically housed in remote data centres containing many servers connected to the internet. These services are rented, usually by technical teams or companies, from anywhere that has an internet connection. Companies that provide these services include Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform.

Cloud-Hosted software refers to the applications built by technical teams using the ‘The Cloud’s’ technical infrastructure. They create an application that is stored in ‘The Cloud’ and accessed by a user, like you or me, by logging into an internet browser.

There are three major types of ‘Cloud-Hosted’ software: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). The type most relevant to OOH is Software-as-a-Service, the second two are primarily for technical IT people, so in this article, we’ll focus on SaaS.

Now, back to our comparison.

On-Premise software is like owning your own car

‘On-Premise’ software is any software application that you buy a license for and have installed locally on servers you own and manage on your property.

Like when you own your own car, you pay an upfront cost, then own it outright. It is kept on your property and you can drive it whenever and wherever you like. But with control comes responsibility. So maintenance, security and knowing how to drive safely, falls on you.

On-premise software is like owning your own car

Image via The Drum

SaaS is like booking a flight

Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, is a standalone application designed for any person to access and use, through a web browser on your computer. You might have used products like Gmail, Salesforce or Trello. All three are SaaS products.

Like when you book a flight, you only pay for the flights you book. You are in charge of the destination but are guided on the best route by an expert pilot. You have your own seat on the plane, but ride with others, and must check in at the airport with your passport to take the flight.

One of the greatest advantages of SaaS is that by joining other passengers, you receive a more powerful service that can goes further than your car. You also have a dedicated team of pilots, stewards, security staff and engineers who ensure the service performs to the highest possible standards. Plus, if your destination changes, it’s very easy to change flight or book additional seats!

Cloud-Hosted Software is like taking a flight

Image via DA&D

Could I buy ‘On-Premise’ software then host it in ‘The Cloud’?

It’s rare, but this is an option and is a bit like leasing a car. You hold the keys and can drive it wherever you like. Insurance, repairs and upgrades are managed by the leasing company.

Your options compared

 

 On-PremiseCloud-Hosted (SaaS)On-Premise Hosted in The Cloud
OwnershipOne-off, upfront license fee & monthly support fee.Pay-as-you-go subscription which includes updates and support.Software: One-off, upfront license fee & monthly support fee.
Hardware: Pay-as-you-go subscription
Host LocationOn your servers, on your property.Hosted in ‘The Cloud’ via the vendor’s hardware in specialised data centres.Hosted in ‘The Cloud’ via the vendor’s hardware in specialised data centres.
AvailabilityHardware must be installed and configured before use.Available as soon as you have paid.Access to hardware is available immediately, software needs to be installed and configured.
AccessSoftware is installed locally on the computers you’ll use it from.Can be accessed via a web browser from anywhere, on any device, using a username and password.Software is installed locally on the computers you’ll use it from.
CustomisationHighly customisable (although usually at a cost) and you retain full control over hardware and data.An out-of-the-box solution means it is not very customisable. Vendor controls the hardware on your behalf.Highly customisable (although usually at a cost) and you retain full control over hardware and data.
PerformanceDependent on your infrastructure’s performance and local network latency.Equipped with high-performance computing systems guaranteeing low network latency.Dependent on your infrastructure’s performance and local network latency.
Software UpdatesNot always included in your license and must be carried out manually in-house.Included in your subscription price and are made by your vendor automatically.Not always included in your license and must be carried out manually in-house.
Scalability and UpgradesDifficult and slow to scale and dependent on hardware capabilities.The vendor has built-in scalability so can be scaled up or down with a few clicks.Limited scalability, as only the hardware is easy to scale.
MaintenanceYou are responsible for maintenance and must keep a trained in-house team or pay for a consultant.The vendor is responsible for all maintenance which happens automatically.You are responsible for maintenance and must keep a trained in-house team or pay for a consultant.
SecurityYou are responsible for managing security, threats and data protection.Your vendor keeps your hardware in specially designed data centres with premium security and backup systems.You are responsible for managing security, threats and data protection.


It’s clear there are pros and cons with both types  – it simply depends on your business. But what’s also clear is the trend toward cloud-hosting. 77% of UK organisations currently use ‘The Cloud’ to power everything from storage to finance.

As many media owners embark on a tech overhaul, now’s the time to decide whether ‘On-Premise’ or ‘Cloud-Hosted’ is right for you. For more information, or to discuss your options, get in touch, we’re always happy to offer advice.