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KSM Media —OOH Agency Today

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OOH Agency Today — KSM Media


by Will Farmer
Media and Communications Manager, OOH Today

Truths are powerful combinations of evidence-based conclusions and human insights. Unlike other media planning agencies, KSM uncovers truths through a relentless focus on data quality and meaning—not just data quantity. This fixation enables them to transform into an extension of your business intelligence team, acting as a full-range strategic marketing firm and partner in growth. Their data truths ultimately fuel differentiating strategies that connect people with your brand in remarkable ways. That’s how a data-driven marketing company like theirs accelerates your business, for today and tomorrow.

As a media marketing company, KSM draws people to your brand by activating the power of emotional connectivity. By infusing data insights with uncommon ideas, they build meaningful relationships between you and your target audience that last. Their media marketing team won’t stop until they’ve found the best way to engage your audience personally and at scale. Why? Because, as too many other media buying agencies forget, cultivating brand equity in today’s media ecosystem demands marketing strategies that create real connections, and even data-based marketing should have a human element at its core.

We spoke to Mel Greve, Senior Vice President at KSM Media. She spoke on what sets KSM Media apart from other agencies, as well as what excites her most about the future of OOH. Here’s what she had to say:


Q&A with Mel Greve,
SVP Investment Solutions | KSM Media





Will Farmer: Please tell us about KSM Media. How long have you been in business? Staffing? Size? Specialties? Billing? Regional Offices?

Mel Greve: Kelly Scott Madison was founded in Chicago in 1966, and we’re proud of the fact that we’ve remained independent ever since. It’s allowed us to answer first to our clients, and enables our leadership team to be directly invested in the success of those brand partners.

Our core services include media strategy, investment, and advanced measurement across all formats and channels. We like to say that our experts play in that exciting intersection of robust insights, strategy, channel expertise, and analytics to drive marketing excellence. It’s quite a mouthful, but we stand by it. And being in business for over 55 years has allowed us to excel in numerous category specializations, including healthcare, retail, finance, beverages, QSR, CPG, travel, and entertainment. Between our headquarters in Chicago and our second office in Austin, TX, we currently employ more than 150 media experts.

WF: What would you like brands and the OOH Industry to know about your shop?

MG: Three big things set us apart from the competition: our client-first mentality, our entrepreneurial spirit, and our best-in-class solutions. Many agencies like to claim this, but I’ve regularly witnessed our team walk that talk, especially over the past year. A lot of this relates back to the high value we place on meaningful relationship building—whether it’s between our brand partners and their customers, or our agency and long-standing OOH industry partners. It’s a simple concept, but staying true to this focus is vital to the success of our work. And perhaps most importantly, our approaches turn advertising into a profit-center rather than a cost-center, because nothing matters more than delivering on our brand partners’ business goals. We always hold ourselves and our partners accountable to that.

WF: Do you work with clients directly and/or through agencies? What is the percentage breakdown?

MG: We work directly with the majority of our clients, though we do have a small number of clients where a partner agency leads the relationship. In either case, we always “play nicely in the sandbox” to ensure we collectively deliver a smart and cohesive campaign that’s grounded in tactics which will move our client’s business forward.

WF: Any comments or suggestions for OOH reps in approaching or working with KSM?

MG: We value communication and accountability, especially at the start of the campaign. Flawless activation and prompt confirmations encourage repeat business. During the RFP process, we appreciate when our partners take the time to understand a client’s goals to better identify the best potential solutions. And we’ll always entertain ideas that will maximize impact—there is so much creative potential in OOH.

WF: What is your most memorable new business pitch?

MG: While many new business pitches are memorable, one favorite that comes to mind was when we created a pop-up Chuy’s Tex-Mex restaurant in our Austin office, complete with food, décor, and a post-pitch happy hour. It was a small taste of our ambient and experiential capabilities. The client loved that we really understood their vibe, and they were able to get to know our team in a more casual setting.

We’re also extremely excited about our most recent partnership with Texas Children’s Hospital, which is the largest children’s and women’s hospital in the nation. That pitch and ensuing conversation stood out given everything going on amid the pandemic. We really got to know their team and the amazing work they do very personally, and we couldn’t be more excited to play a part in furthering the impact and relationships they have among their communities.

WF: What differentiates your business from others?                

MG: Building off what I said earlier, our emphasis on relationships, accountability, and technology are backed by these additional differentiators:

We predict business outcomes with our media plans, not just reach and frequency.

We deliver on business KPIs, period. Impressions, views, clicks, and other isolated metrics are meaningless if your bottom line isn’t moving. Our technology solutions were designed to facilitate brand scenario planning for ultimate customer receptivity and outcomes.

We are data-enabled not data-handcuffed; adaptive media is everything.

Now more than ever, adaptive media planning is the name of the game. This means our strategies must adapt to today and tomorrow’s competitive pressures; we can do this because we are data-enabled, not data-handcuffed. Our adaptive planning approach with rapid response builds precision business performance. Our approach doesn’t force us to choose between long- and short-term goals; we balance both. The proof is in the pudding: The top third of our clients all experienced revenue increases in 2020 despite business closures, budget cuts, and consumer challenges.

Local can be more powerful than national, and we nail it.

We cut our agency teeth specializing in the power of local, and our expertise has only strengthened. Our analytics take a multivariate approach to calculating potential upside for brands. Our calculations take into account more than just media, geography, revenue, and demographics; we account for frequently overlooked variables such as store footprints, regional cultural flair, variable shopping habits, and emotional drivers.

WF: How do you obtain new business? Please share new business contact information.

MG: We obtain new business from a variety of means including organic growth, referrals, and external marketing. For those looking to connect and have a smart discussion about what we can do together, reach out to Chad Maxwell:

Chad Maxwell, Chief Strategy Officer, KSM



WF: Discuss or share OOH campaigns by your shop.

MG: Kelly Scott Madison has helped numerous brands across countless categories level up their OOH game. It’s hard to choose just a few, but going back to Chuy’s, our OOH bus-wrap execution, powered by the creative smarts of our partners at Hiebing, helped that campaign net an Austin Addy Award in the OOH and Ambient Media category. It provided a really fun method for Chuy’s to make a splash in one of its newer markets, and highlighted the unique culture and voice of the restaurants, while using the size of the bus in a clever way to demonstrate product attributes. Needless to say, it really caught people’s attention.

Another great example comes from our work with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. We moved swiftly after onboarding the account in late 2019 to deploy some high-impact executions designed to drive awareness in key airlift markets during the peak season. We tapped strategic DOOH inventory to quickly canvass major markets with relevant, vibrant messaging that conveyed the “Dream in Cayman” experience while the weather was less than ideal and post-holiday vacation planning was top-of-mind. One of the most powerful activations was our Times Square domination that was live for an extended period during the holidays in the key NY air market (promoting flights from Newark and JFK), including New Year’s Eve. The full-motion creative looked beautiful as it was captured by several of the major networks’ NYE broadcasts; CNN in particular came back from a commercial break and scanned the full unit, and the earned broadcast element provided an exciting reach boost to the overall campaign. While travel obviously came to a standstill in 2020, and the Cayman Islands borders remain closed to international travel, we’re looking forward to considering more impactful and creative OOH executions in the future to encourage visitors to return to the islands and once again enjoy the unique Cayman experience.


WF: What are you most excited about when it comes to the future of the OOH space?

MG: The evolvement of OOH measurement and programmatic capabilities is truly exciting when looking at the road ahead. The increase in vendors offering attribution and measurement solutions is great to see, and the recent announcement of Comscore expanding to OOH measurement is encouraging as well. Being able to evaluate OOH performance alongside their other digital audiences is something advertisers are coming to expect, and will be especially powerful as traffic patterns and daily routines continue to shift during “re-emergence” periods.



(312) 977-0772

Chicago, IL

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