The Denial by OOH Agencies
Being “The Billboard Police”
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.