Houston, OOH has a viewability and transparency problem

Marketplace at MediaCom Sydney head, Nick Thomas
By Marketplace at MediaCom Sydney head, Nick Thomas | 5 July 2018

“I didn't do it. No one saw me do it. You can't prove anything”.

We can thank Bart Simpson for the phrase, but I’m sure the sentiment has run through a few heads over the last few years.

Just mention the word ‘transparency’ and the wriggling and cold sweats will start.

It sets off a rollercoaster of emotions for marketers, agencies and owners and has done for the past five years.

Compliance, transparency, stewardship, have also been drilled into the head of every media buyer and marketers now actively want to be kept updated on all these areas.

Digital media has copped a hammering over the last couple of years, possibly due to Mark Ritson raising awareness about viewability and for that reason it is now in the daily vocabulary across the media world. But what if I told you there was a billion dollar industry that has largely been forgotten about when it comes to viewability and transparency.

The OOH industry

OOH has been left un-audited and un-verified for years. It is a market where there’s currently a lack of transparency, compliance and stewardship, but most importantly, for an industry built around viewability, it is the very viewability of their product they are selling, that needs to be addressed.

The OOH industry has seen huge growth since 2014, up nearly $250million in spend with a steady growth every year close to double digits.

The industry has spent its time and money updating, building and digitising assets and done a fantastic job at it. The OMA and different owner powerhouses have helped fill the market with research, awards, tools and education - but, the conversation has needed to change to viewability ... and it is.

Marketers need to be speaking to their agencies about OOH viewability, instead of just focusing on the digital buzzword. They must start asking broader questions.

For the past four years MediaCom and GroupM have been working with a third party verification services to ensure where possible our campaigns are complaint and in view.

In other words, ‘Are we are getting what we paid for?’

It is important for us to know, and for our clients to know and understand that their money is being looked after and that the best possible results are being achieved against the desired target.

How do you know?

  • The panel you booked is the one you are getting?
  • How do you know it hasn’t been graffiti?
  • Is the panel where you thought it was?
  • How do you know the panel’s illuminated correctly?
  • How do you know that those bonus panels aren’t next the toilets?
  • Has the panel been installed correctly?
  • Does the digital screen have dead pixels or isn’t powered?

Yes the market is going digital, so there is less chance that the guy posting the panel stuffs it up?

Ironically it means that there is no one inspecting the panel, in fact it might be opposite for media owners that don’t have live streams of sites.

But the market on average is currently only 20% digital, and with digital assets comes an even bigger risk:

  • Share of voice?
  • Category exclusivity?
  • Are we being inventory managed?
  • What days is it, is it an even skew?
  • Are the screens working?

When OOH is commanding a 15% share of every marketer’s dollar, these are questions your agency should be able to answer and agency owners should be happy to help and work with you to deliver a result that all parties are happy with.

Let me be very clear that I am not saying OOH is not being compliant, but I am saying that it has been left unchecked.

We need to put the advertiser first, not the agency and not the owners.

When speaking with one of the third party inspection services recently, they shared some pretty concerning figures:

The industry ‘in view’ benchmark currently sits at about 92%, meaning 8% of campaigns are not in view.

Let’s apply that to how much has been spent on OOH since 2014.

$3,451,401,709 at 8% not in view.

That’s more than $275million in advertiser’s dollars that has been potentially wasted.

The industry is in support ... slowly.

With the launch of more third party inspection services there should be no campaign in market that isn’t working with one of these providers.

With a measurement cost that’s at a relatively low, at 1%, there is a big spread between the average rate of error, 8%.

So what’s next?

We helped our digital partners to adhere to our view ability standard so we should now be ensuring that all our OOH campaigns and partners are adhering as well.

We need all parties to view the digitisation and accountability as a bonus, a positive, not a threat. I’m sure the OOH industry can use the new and verified proof to take even more share of the market if they approach it in the right way.

With the recent mergers and acquisitions it seems like an even more important time than ever to put viewability on the agenda.

We have robust third party measurement systems in place for TV, radio, digital and print, but it’s time agencies and marketers started using the one word guaranteed to get the pulses racing out there in OOH land - viewability.

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