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On the Outside Looking In

OOH Insights from “The FNG”

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On the Outside Looking In

OOH Insights from “The FNG”

 

by Adam Goodman, Adam Goodman is Co-Founder and Head of Sales of Airsqreen

I fell into a job in New York City as a sales assistant for a TV cable network fresh out of college. We were right across the street from Bryant Park. From a shared office window, I could see the New York City Public Library lions made famous in my mind by the movie Ghostbusters.

I remember my first day on the job like it was yesterday. That morning, I noticed that some people referred to me as “the FNG” rather than the given name that brought my mother so much pride. I soon understood that “the FNG” was an acronym for “the [expletive] New Guy” (trying to keep it PG-13 here).

Likely this was intended to be part of some light hazing ritual as a rite of passage for a young, entry-level employee right out of college. It didn’t feel that way, though. Instead, it felt endearing, and most of the AEs said it with a smirk that signaled that I got to be in on the joke too.

Over my first year of corporate culture, I wore the term FNG as a badge of honor. It became a representation of my almost naive excitement that was not yet tainted by adopting the established and deeply engrained narrative. As the FNG, I never answered a sentence with the words “because this is how we do it.” I didn’t even honestly know what I shouldn’t or couldn’t do. There was freedom in this for me and wisdom for others around me who had this awareness.

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As I approach the OOH industry as the proverbial “FNG,” I see things through my unique lens. Likewise, we all have our unique lens from which we view the world, and I’d like to briefly share what I see. 

I see the beginnings of incredible innovation. I see strong community and pride in work and accomplishments. I see a healthy competitive spirit, and I dig that a great deal. Some of the innovation occurs to me as genuinely leading edge. Some leaders are really thinking about how tech can solve specific problems in OOH. Other solutions I see as a bit more of a cookie-cutter approach migrated from different verticals of media. Some of these proposed solutions do not yet truly appreciate the uniqueness of the OOH ad medium. I imagine some of these will evolve and shift to better align with the unique needs of the OOH space and solve real problems, but only time will tell.

I also see an opportunity to foster a truly global community in a way that has not reached true potential. We can find ways to promote this closeness even with physical distance. Think about how our industry learning and evolution will be accelerated with so many unique new ideas and intelligent people coming together from the farthest reaches of the globe. After all, the pace of OOH global growth is far outpacing what we see in the US. So, let’s erase the imaginary lines that separate us and embrace our genuinely international community. I say “our” because I feel like I’ve been welcomed by many of you with open arms in a relatively short time, and I am grateful.

Given my unique lens, focus, and work history, a trend that I have personally witnessed in every other ad vertical is 3rd party ad verification and measurement. 3rd party verification is the winding tributary that will reach its destination over time, even if a giant boulder stands in its way. I see a relative void of such solutions in DOOH. At the same time, in every other digital medium, there currently exists an advanced approach. I see advanced verification as a truly missing piece because 3rd party verification and accounting are not just a business trend. This is a social trend in the way we expect things to be in our global society.

As someone who spent years deep in digital video advertising, I watched digital video “viewability” verification take the helm. A host of businesses sprouted up in this space to account for the accuracy of digital video media. And at that time, there was a big gap between what was being reported and what was happening. While some were fraudulent, a good portion of these discrepancies was not done with malice but rather blissful ignorance in the absence of a 3rd party accounting mandate.

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When viewability became table stakes, marketers had unbiased confirmation that their media was running right. They had a new level of confidence that their ad budgets were being spent wisely by their agency partners. The sellers were no longer grading their own homework. However, it also raised many questions about how things were prior and how much money may have been wasted. While these questions were difficult to sit with initially, it was only a temporary discomfort to promote change for the greater good. Have you ever truly made any lasting change without deep and temporary pain in your life? I personally have not.

I was expecting more resistance from publishers during this move to 3rd party oversight in the digital video ad vertical. Still, to my surprise, agencies and publishers worked together for the greater good of the industry. There were leaders, and there were followers, just like in all areas of life. In addition, the verification tool was implemented from the agency/marketer side and not offered via the sales agent to solidify a genuinely unbiased approach.

As someone coming in with a fresh perspective on the OOH industry, I expect the same to happen in DOOH, and I am seeing positive signs of this in my daily business interactions. The industry will win when confidence in the medium is bolstered through trusted measurement and verification. This is my personal focus and our business focus.

I believe that we must celebrate and encourage innovation in all areas of our business and see it as a way for OOH growth over time and not as a threat. After all, when marketers truly can measure their campaigns and see ROI tied to that measurement, budgets will increase over time, and the whole industry wins.

Of course, valuable knowledge is developed over time, devoting one’s professional career to an industry. Still, the true wisdom is awareness of how we may also be due for a reinvention, or at least a re-imagining of certain aspects.

An accomplished friend and colleague with overarching cross-media ad agency responsibility introduced me to a new acronym a few days ago. NBDB – Never Been Done Before. It seems timely and poignant to share.

So let’s all try to act the part of the FNG, if initially for brief moments during the week, and strive to do things that have NBDB.

But then again, what do I know?… I’m just the “FNG.” 😉

Adam Goodman is Co-Founder and Head of Sales of Airsqreen, an ad platform built for DOOH that manages, verifies, and reports on media campaigns in real-time.

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