Until very recently, the only way to estimate the effectiveness of an outdoor ad was a ‘learned guess’.
Based on the location, the kind of people who would frequent it, and the numbers they would frequent it in, were often based on ballpark figures.
If there’s a marketplace with children’s stores and eateries, the assumption might be that footfall is around 100,000 people per week, with young families accounting for 85% of that number.
Based on the nature of the stores and the general opinion of store owners, you might reach an estimate that’s just a ballpark figure.
The problem with ballpark figures is that they are only nice when they work in your favour.
So, if they’re saying 100,000 people and 85% of them are families, it’s better for you if the actual footfall is more than 100,000 people and your target audience is young families.
However, you might just find that the actual footfall is just 45,000 and that 70% of all visitors are actually young adults (not young parents) who love to visit a couple of eateries in that market center.
Moreover, if you were asked to pay a certain amount of money because a particular outdoor inventory had a certain Reach, wouldn’t you feel cheated if it turned out that actual Reach was far below?
That makes the need to find out actual impressions, with greater accuracy, more important than ever before.
Basics of Impressions and Multipliers
An Impression is basically the number of views a particular ad has received, or the number of people who have been exposed to an ad!
No matter what channel you choose – Internet, search, social, television, radio or outdoor – the concept of an ‘Impression’ is the same in all of them.
Now comes the tricky part – how do you measure these impressions?
Well, for social media, search or Internet ads, the concept is very simple because the appearance of an ad on a screen can count for one impression – or be said to have reached at least one person.
However, outdoor advertising runs on a one-to-many format, wherein one screen might be viewed by multiple people at any given point of time.
Since one ad-play can be viewed by many people at the same time, there is a number associated with the estimated ad-play views of each screen – that is known as the ‘Impression Multiplier’ for that screen.
The next question that immediately arises is, how do you determine how many people have seen that ad-play, and this is where data becomes the key player.
Using Data to Calculate Impression Multipliers
Using a number of input sources like mobile phone tower signals, app-usage data, GPS data, Google Maps data, Wi-Fi, cameras and even IoT devices, it is possible to determine the location of a device with respect to a particular screen.
Once you have a device’s location, you essentially have the device’s person’s location – essentially, you have a pretty strong idea that someone was standing near a particular screen at a given point in time.
By accumulating the data about all such people who were standing in viewing distance of the screen, you can calculate the Impression Multiplier for that screen – for that moment!
This process continues on an ongoing basis and the whole idea behind this is to create an Impression Multiplier for each moment the screen is switched on and give advertisers a clear idea of how many people their ad can reach (potentially).
This is a far more accurate way of determining ad-reach and predicting performance or potential ROI.
Making Impression Data Accurate
One of the biggest qualms that businesses have about outdoor ad data is Viewability.
After all, people might be standing near a billboard or walking past a screen but may not see the ad playing on it.
Fact is, this level of ambiguity remains in all formats – even the much-touted search, social media or Internet ads.
You could be reading an article or browsing through LinkedIn posts and not notice the ad that was showing on the side – that is of course if you didn’t have an ad-blocker in place already.
Even if you don’t have an ad-blocker, the human mind is designed to ignore similar patterns over time while paying greater attention to changes in patterns.
For example, they are more likely to start ignoring something that’s constantly placed in the same location even if it is right next to what they are actually looking at – like an ad banner on a website.
They are more likely to notice even the minutest change, like an outdoor ad screen interrupting their eyeline as they walk through the streets.
With all those buildings, plants and vehicles, a sudden break in visual texture, colours or just location, can draw your eyes to an ad.
That makes the concepts of Detection Zones and Viewability Zones very important.
Essentially, people who are nearer to the screen are more likely to view the ad than those who are in the vicinity, but not near enough to be guaranteed impressions.
The Biggest Impression Multiplier Benefit
In the end, Impression Multipliers are bringing about the biggest revolution in outdoor advertising – CPM-based campaigns!
CPM-based pricing gives your brand the flexibility to run a campaign to reach a certain number of people, which is your objective.
It does not charge you to run your ads on a particular screen, which is your input.
In other words, you pay for the results you get and not for the inputs you apply to get results.
It also allows you to run longer or shorter campaigns, or modify campaigns in the middle to adapt to changing Impressions’ data for your ad plays.
Finally, if you are one of the 43% of advertisers who are weary about placing a DOOH advertisement owing to the absence of standardization data, then you now have nothing to worry about.
With the right outdoor ad-partner, you’ll find that your next outdoor campaign is far more effective than you could ever imagine!