Mobile Location Data Aims To Connect OOH Campaigns To In-Store Sales

placedoohimg_edited-1Location analytics company Placed announced Wednesday its attribution service would connect billboards to in-store traffic.

It will do this via a mix of partnerships with holding company agencies and out-of-home (OOH) inventory suppliers like Clear Channel Media and cinema ad network NCM.

“OOH is shifting,” said Michael Lieberman, COO of tenthavenue, an OOH agency within WPP. “It’s catching up to a digital world where there are greater expectations of measurability and accountability.”

OOH has accounted for less than 5% of overall ad spending for more than 30 years, and has recently been losing market share to more measurable channels. But according to David Shim, Placed’s founder and CEO, “If you bring measurability to any media, we’ve seen that it can drive up prices and investments from holding companies.”

Placed’s product works across all outdoor signage, but has direct partnerships only with in-cinema ad network National CIneMedia and Clear Channel signage. It’s built around an audience network of roughly 800,000 users who have agreed to let Placed track their location. Shim said the users have to opt in with both Placed itself and the app partner that uses Placed’s technology. Opt-in users are incented with cash or small donations in their name.

Ad server location data is riddled with inaccuracy, but having a pool of users provide a constant stream of lat/long pings gives Placed a big advantage, said Shim. “There are proximity solutions, but that’s capturing drivers in both directions. You need the stream of data to demonstrate the person actually saw the sign.”

“The industry is placing greater scrutiny on media accountability,” said Jeff Tan, VP of strategy at the Dentsu Aegis OOH agency Posterscope. Increasingly, interest around viewability and attribution is being applied to channels where it had previously been absent.

For instance, WPP’s media-buying arm GroupM recently started a joint venture with the influencer marketing firm Fullscreen meant to extend digital measurement to that channel. Like OOH, influencers have generally been used for branding or PR campaigns.

Connecting driving or foot traffic to in-store activity is an easier pitch with an audience network than, say, connecting beacon pings and mobile location data with anonymized retail data. But Placed’s solution is still probabilistic. It doesn’t actually link individual users to actions in a brick-and-mortar location, but applies an algorithm to its audience network to model out in-store activity.

“Mobile has grown the data set and comfort around location-based audiences,” said Lieberman. Mobile solutions are more reliable than scattered location points from an ad server, he said.

“I believe OOH measurement is undervalued by the industry,” said Tan. “Mobile location data is the OOH industry’s equivalent of the cookie, and using this effectively means we can attain measurable, accountable solutions for our clients.”

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