VeriFone Media Exec Polos Sees Audience Buying In The Digital Out-Of-Home Market

verifone mediaChris Polos, Head of Advertising Solutions at VeriFone Media, discussed the out-of-home market and the impact of audience buying. His company recently reached out to marketers whose target market was among the throngs visiting during New York City’s most recent Fashion Week. Considering your background at companies such as Tacoda, are you surprised about the continued move towards audience buying?

CP: I’m not surprised by either. Certainly, in the online space, those arguments made a lot of sense, back then, right? Ultimately, advertisers are trying to reach a certain person or type of audience or the right demo. Certainly, a website, the content itself certainly dictates the type of audience that’s going there, but those people go lots of other places as well, so you can get a lot efficiency in a media buy. I mean, the story was very clear [laughs] back in our TACODA days, and it still rings true today.

And is audience buying moving to out‑of‑home?

It’s been an out‑of‑home space for a while, but I feel like it’s shifting more as out‑of‑home shifts to digital. You can be a lot more flexible with those buys, certainly, than you could before with a static board. You’re seeing traditional out‑of‑home people now selling digital and learning things about day‑parting and geo‑targeting and so on in order to create more of an audience positioning.

From your point of view, anecdotally, where are we in the transition to digital for out‑of‑home?

Certainly, working with all of the out‑of‑home agencies, digital is on everybody’s mind. From a mind‑share perspective today, it’s consuming people’s thoughts about planning and how they’re going to grow and adapt.

Not every company is, though. Certainly, there are economics of transitioning from traditional to digital and investments that need to be made. So that’s catching up. And, we’re still in a recession, so, certainly, if we hadn’t had the [down] market that we had, you’d probably see a lot more digital today. But there’s still a lot out there. [And certain companies] are not slowing down in making that transition, because they need to improve yield and adjust to the advertising needs of the audience. That’s happening across Clear Channel, Lamar, etc.

Looking at VeriFone Media, let me ask the typical startup question even though you’re not a startup… “What problem are you solving?”

In a way, we are a startup within a larger, corporate, public company. The problem that I think we’re solving today is, it’s really about how we fit into the broader strategy of VeriFone. All the hardware, all the solutions, everything that VeriFone sells today is essentially a multimedia device. It’s a payment device.  We’re enabling transactions at the point of sale‑‑at retail, at gas pumps, at taxis. If you go down the line of all of our verticals, and all of those solutions, ultimately, there is some form of multimedia screen attached to it, to swipe a card, get the transaction, whatever.

So where we fit in [as to do with the way] all these environments provide true, accountable, captive audiences. That’s what I loved about online advertising, and this is part of what attracted me to VeriFone – I’m not selling a billboard. Those billboards are valuable, but still, it’s easier to sell something to an advertiser when you can tell them exactly how many impressions they received. It’s a little harder when you have to start using survey data and traffic logs and other things. They’re fairly accurate and accepted in the industry, but it’s just a lot easier when that audience is fully accountable. And they’re captive. The audience is looking at those screens, they’re interacting with them, and they’re engaging with them, so the advertiser really feels like they’re getting value from it.

So how are your announced efforts during Fashion Week relevant to audience buying and ads?

There are a couple things. It’s effectiveness. It’s flexibility. And there is an audience story there, too. The general demographics inside of a taxi in New York City are very high –  affluent, educated people. They over‑index on spending on just about everything in the world. But the audiences really shift and adjust throughout the day, and certainly throughout the year, depending on the time of year.

So [during] Fashion Week, and the number of advertisers on our platform are up 60 percent year‑over‑year. Selfishly speaking, we think it’s the best way to reach that on‑the‑go consumer.

Can you really target the fashion world with your capabilities?

The capabilities of the platform have allowed us to work more with a lot of these [fashion week] advertisers. Certainly you can day‑part a campaign. You can geo‑target campaigns. We have a lot of advertisers that just say, “I only want my ad to play in cabs when they’re on the West Side, and around Lincoln Center and the remaining ads, while the events are happening.”

We’re doing a lot of that this week, but we do a lot of that in general for advertisers – trying to target Financial District or the airport or different parts of town.

What would you say VeriFone is trying to do with VeriFone Media?

Essentially, our group is a horizontal division across all the different vertical channels that we dominate, at retail and at gas pumps and in taxis. Domestic and globally. 60 percent of VeriFone’s revenue comes in globally. It comes from selling the hardware. We’re helping companies accept payments at the point of sale. The media is a really strong value‑add. And media comes in all forms.

Our team saw the vision a few years ago, and part of the reason they brought me in was for an advertising person perspective on what’s happening today in our marketplace. How much time and money is Google investing to get at that point of sale? Pretty significant, through NFC. Microsoft, Amazon, PayPal, you name it, Visa‑‑everybody now, all of a sudden, has woken up and said, “You know what? 95 percent of all transactions still happen in the physical world, not online.” And there’s a lot of data out there and a lot of information which is not necessarily being captured. So VeriFone is one important piece of that puzzle.

The marketer is managing a bunch of separate channels right now. Is there a way or do you see VeriFone Media increasingly providing better connections, maybe APIs or understandings of what performance it’s providing in relation to other channels?

First, everyone’s sensitive to the privacy rules. So privacy is paramount, on everybody’s mind, especially nowadays.

In most cases, we work with retailers, of one form or another, whether it’s a gas station or a retail location, like a Duane Reade, to enable them with payment systems, which my desire is to then enable those devices with media and get more data than we have today. We’re not there yet, but certainly, we have a lot of discussions about, how could we leverage that data and make that data more available to the media community so that they can prove stronger ROI in the money they’re spending, not only with us but in other channels.

Follow Verifone (@verifone) and VeriFone Media (@verifone_media) and (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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