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Simplifying Outdoor Advertising with Impressions

19197455-1We’ve talked endlessly about the history of outdoor advertising and how the process of running a campaign was nothing short of running an Ultramarathon!

Right from the get-go, you have to do an incredible amount of legwork:

    • It starts by identifying key locations where you think your Target Audience (TA) is likely to be
    • Then, you look for screens you’d like to use in those locations
    • You’ve found your screens, now you need to know who owns them and start talking to them about costs and reach
    • Most media owners will have their own “viewing figures” so you have to cross-check those with unbiased entities that won’t do this for free
    • Then, once you’ve picked a selection of screens for your campaign, you need to begin negotiating the costs and durations
    • Finally, you are ready to sign the agreement to run the campaign but before you start celebrating, there’s still the matter of getting creative approvals
    • Finally, after you get your creatives approved, you’re all set to run your campaign – with little to no hopes of getting concrete campaign performance reports

The only thing that’s guaranteed out of this entire ordeal is that you’ll have physically aged by a few months before this process is over.

Technically, the input and the outcome of this process is the same as it is for social media ads, search ads or Internet ads (aka digital ads).

Understanding Inputs v/s Outcomes

The process of digital ads also involves all these steps – but because of the nature of the Impression data that is available to you, you know exactly what you can expect to get out of your campaign.

You know that if you’re spending X-amount of money on A, B & C-keywords to reach a specific TA segment, you get Y-number of impressions and (if your ad’s good enough) Z-number of clicks.

Out of all these variables, you have complete control over the budget (X), the keywords you choose (A, B & C), and the audience segment you target.

26581527651_54e269fee7_bThese are your Inputs!

The things that you are expecting as a result of these inputs are Impressions (Y) and Click throughs (Z) – what we’re calling Outcomes!

Technically, both Impressions and Clicks are outcomes but there’s one thing that’s different about Digital ads – you can control your Impressions.

Your budget, effectively, is an indicator of how many people your ad can reach, and it is that relationship that gives you complete control over one of your Outcomes – Impressions (Y).

Again, you might argue that even click throughs are in your control as you determine the ad-creatives that drive engagement – and to that we’d say ‘Yes’, but it depends more on factors that are beyond your control and more in the court of the ad-viewer and the way it is served.

For e.g. you might have an extremely effective and creative ad but because it gets displayed on a website with a particular background colour that matches your ad’s background colour, your ad gets lost or loses its charm – again, things that you couldn’t have known or cannot fix on an individual level.

Bringing Standardization to Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising has made the transition into a system where you no longer need to make ad-buying and placement decisions based on biased data.

There are three key challenges that face the outdoor advertising industry:

    1. Fragmented Media Ownership: Unlike digital where there are large players (like Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) who dominate the space, outdoor media ownership is fragmented with numerous owners running screens of all sizes and shapes that you can imagine!
    2. Standardization: Because of these varied screen sizes and a fragmented ownership setup, it is very challenging to get all media owners to agree on a single metric for campaign performance measurement - i.e. Impressions.
    3. Education: Advertisers, clients, agencies or ad-buyers – they all need to understand that there is a better way to buy digital outdoor advertising and they don’t need to subject themselves to outdated planning and measurement processes for outdoor campaigns.

The process of making Impression-based outdoor campaigns the industry norm relies on a concerted effort to address all three issues simultaneously.

The moment there is a realization that there is a better quality of ad-planning data available to brands and agencies, the switch becomes easier.

After all, the end-goal of all parties involved here is the same – to make sure that brands and advertisers get the most bang for their buck and that the ROI presented in reports is verifiable.

We are all looking for a certain level of transparency and accountability to our advertising expenditure – and digital ads (social media, search and Internet) have set the bar for what is acceptable today.

Outdoor advertising – especially digital outdoor advertising – has caught up so it’s just a question of when the people who’re actually spending money on those screens – i.e. you, the advertiser – will realise that the solution is right there, ready for the taking!

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