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The Denial by OOH Agencies

Being “The Billboard Police”

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Trees blocked this billboard. It looked good on the map and photo sheet provided.

 

The Denial by OOH Agencies

by Glenn Carroll, CEO, Carroll Media Services

OOH agencies and their specialists are very busy these days, which is reflective of an industry that is continuing to see record growth and is now approaching $8 billion in the US, according to the OAAA.  Many advertisers that have relied heavily on print, broadcast, and digital channels for their media mix are now realizing that #OOH has distinct advantages in targeting today’s mobile consumer and should be considered. Also, with the proliferation of new DOOH formats, improved data sources, and the efforts of Geopath, the industry is revolutionizing the way media measurement and insights are used to effectively reach consumers and establish new standards. However, some OOH agencies continue to be in denial by not demanding standards for accurately determining 3rd party performance metrics where OOH operates – in the field.

OOH has distinct advantages in targeting today’s mobile consumer

Unlike most other media, there has been an assumption by many outdoor advertisers and their agencies that once an OOH or DOOH program goes live, barring any known delays, the media plan always equals or exceeds the planned impressions with no 3rd party adjustments. After 25 years of providing 3rd party post-buy field audits for a who’s who list of OOH advertisers, I can tell you that this is a false assumption. Field performance audits almost always discover non-compliance items that our clients use to accurately adjust impressions and request the appropriate credits and make goods. Imagine a broadcast or digital/online media agency telling a client that they “always assume” their programs meet or exceed the media plan and do not recommend 3rd party metrics to support actual performance. That agency would be immediately fired, but many OOH agencies continue to be in denial about the need for field audits and actual impression delivery metrics.

the media plan always equals or exceeds the planned impressions with no 3rd party adjustments—is a false assumption

When I discuss the benefits of audits and our historical audit findings with some OOH specialists that have not used our services, as well as various industry leaders, I get the impression that this is not a subject they want to explore. I feel like I have asked them to invite their crazy Uncle Ernie for Thanksgiving dinner, but knowing he’ll probably create a ruckus and spill something on their brand new carpet, life is just easier without Ernie in your house. Also fueling the denial regarding the need for audits are agency and OOH vendor relations, with 3rd party audit reports potentially casting a shadow on various financial and personal relationships that have been formed. And post-buy field audits are probably not mentioned in any road shows or agency presentations by the industry’s association, even though some of our clients over the years have told us that they would not buy the medium without some form of in-field oversight.

post-buy field audits are probably not mentioned in any road shows or agency presentations by the industry’s association

Possibly the top rationale OOH agencies use to convince themselves and their clients not to audit, are the POP reports they receive from the vendors after the program goes live.  These required reports are heralded by many agencies as “Proof” that their programs ran as contracted and typically include some sample photos of the campaign; however, these reports are used primary as a posting and invoicing guide and do not have 3rd party field documentation for displays that are not posted/running, have poor visibility, lights that are out, or have dark/faulty screens. When is the last time an agency received a POP photo of a display buried in vegetation or taken at night with the lights out? The OOH agencies that use our services understand that they are doing the right thing in determining real campaign performance and adjusting impressions accordingly – not unlike what other media are required to do via 3rd party services.

the top rationale OOH agencies use to convince themselves and their clients not to audit, are the POP reports they receive from the vendors after the program goes live— these reports are used primary as a posting and invoicing guide and do not have 3rd party field documentation for displays that are not posted/running, have poor visibility, lights that are out, or have dark/faulty screens

My company has formally conducted pre-rides and audits on well over a million OOH/DOOH displays across almost all OOH formats over the years, and we have always taken a positive, proactive approach in presenting our services. As a 40-year veteran of the OOH industry with an agency background, I am bullish on OOH and frequently consult with Wall Street, private investors, and brands considering investing in this dynamic and growing industry. However, many of the media experts and advertisers I discuss this industry with do not understand why our 3rd party audits are not standard in the industry in order to heighten the level of transparency and deliver true performance metrics needed to compete across all media formats.

With all the positive traction the OOH industry is deservedly receiving these days, I urge agencies and industry leaders to stop being in denial about the importance of performance metrics and position 3rd party audits as a positive tool and part of the OOH conversation moving forward.

 

Glenn Carroll, CEO, Carroll Media Services
(O) 770-777-1485 x 101
(M) 770-330-3524
OOH / DOOH Proof of Performance
glenn@carrollmedia.com
www.carrollmedia.com

 

 

 

 

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5 Comments
  1. Dee Prier says

    I agree auditing is vital and has saved many clients I’ve worked on tons of money in credits, 20% on average for traditional media. It pays for itself and then some. But, it comes down to budget- who pays? (Clients want agency to pay, agencies are not paying they don’t have the margin as it is.) Unless client understands the value in the audit, and buyers remain unaware of the myriad of instances that can effect the campaign, it’s not happening! Sadly.

  2. Jeff Casper says

    Glenn: I can tell you as a 14 year veteran of Geopath that their efforts to measure our medium are providing a solution that is more robust than any other media. BUT, it is not possible or appropriate for Geopath to decide whether a location is blocked or partially blocked.

  3. Jeff Casper says

    Hit send too soon — so, there needs to be another means to provide comfort that a location is not blocked. The ratings system will not do that for you.

  4. Bill Board says

    Thank you for sharing your experience Dee Prier. Is it getting worse or better or the same?

  5. Bill Board says

    Thank you Jeff Casper for your expertise and comments. Not sure we agree its not possible. Not appropriate, perhaps. Who decides?