FEPE posed the questions; software holds the answers

As we settle back into post-FEPE life at our desks, we’ve been reflecting on the many questions raised at this year’s annual congress in Sorrento.

It seems the end goal is clear. As an industry, we need to make OOH easier to plan and buy in order to keep up with the rise and rise of online and mobile advertising.

But how we actually go about reaching that end goal and making a complex medium such as D/OOH automated and simple to buy was not really answered, and remains foggy at best.

FEPE Sorrento

We founded Signkick with a clear mission: to help media owners make their inventory easy for advertisers to buy, and easy for them to sell. We’re not just here to sell you our software (although in all honesty that’s what we’d like to do!),  we’re here, with a wealth of experience in both camps, to help translate technology to the media world.

For many OOH media owners, entering the world of automation looks scary and expensive. Technology has a track record of fragmenting audiences and fractionalising revenue in other advertising channels. But as PJ Soloman’s Mark Boidman rightly pointed out, “Technology is not a friend to any classic media channel, except for OOH

In Mediatel’s insightful article Dominic Mills explains that “OOH is a totally unique medium, immune to the negative impacts of tech on advertising – fraud, viewability, ad blocking – but derives positive benefits from digitisation in terms of inventory growth, multiplied (as opposed to fractionalised) revenue opportunities, better data than before, better targeting and so on. At the same time, unrelated to tech but thanks to growing urbanisation, audiences are increasing.” So as he says “What’s not to like?”

So we get the need to embrace technology and jump on into the automation race. But how do you actually do that? Well, we see two clear options.

Option 1: Invest the time and resources to build your own automation technology

Given the time, expertise and budgets required to do this successfully, this is really only an option for the big players, and many are already making strides towards it.

Option 2: Take FEPE’s advice and collaborate – with an existing software provider

This approach can work for anyone but is a particularly good approach for smaller media owners. Partnering with a software company to transition to automated trading is like recruiting a fully trained, tech team who have spent the time developing and testing your new automation software.

But like recruiting a new team member, it’s imperative to ensure they are the right fit and have your business’s best interests at heart. As the recruiter, you need to have a clear handle on the skills you already possess and the problems you are looking to solve through tech and why. If you’re not sure, starting a conversation with a software provider early can help pose these questions, bringing challenges and opportunities to the surface.

Just like potential recruits, tech companies have different strengths, and most won’t do everything as a one-stop-shop. If they say they can, it’s probably time to ask a few more questions. We believe that collaboration should be the modus operandi of software companies as well as media companies. So talk to providers that answer different parts of the jigsaw: creative execution, delivery, client management, online sales, automated transactions, programmatic trading. Many, like Signkick, operate their software on a modular basis, meaning you can start small and find a combination that answers your most pressing needs first, then evolves and grows as your needs do too.

With experienced media folk at the helm at Signkick, we’ve been around the OOH business long enough to know that tech isn’t the golden ticket. To thrive in the coming years, media owners will still need exceptional sales teams, a good product and a definable audience. But by collaborating with a tech partner now, not only do media owners have an opportunity to use automation to become more efficient, open up new markets and operate automated transactions, but to establish a collaboration that will give them a leg up on technology advancements into the future.