Why OOH industry needs a unified measurement system now more than ever

Given the unpredictable business environment due to the COVID crisis, marketers are looking for ROI-driven campaigns and accountability for each ad dollar spent

e4m by Noel Dsouza
Updated: Jul 24, 2020 2:37 PM  | 7 min read
OOH Audience Measurement System

The unprecedented lockdown induced by the COVID-19 pandemic hit the out of home (OOH) industry hard. But as the country begins to unlock, the sector too is on the recovery path. Brands are gradually opening up their purse strings, bringing ad monies back in the market. However, given the unpredictable business environment, marketers are looking for ROI-driven campaigns and accountability for each ad dollar spent. And in such a situation, measurement is going to be a key factor.

OOH agencies that are able to provide clients with these metric solutions will pave the way for success and the OOH medium will garner more prominence and faith. The large-format that OOH is, it can garner a wider reach, and if the results are measurable too, it will definitely prove to be a very effective medium for brands. The measurement data will help brands conceptualize more personalized and hyperlocal content for consumers.

OOH agency leaders feel it is because of the lack of a unified measurement system that the sector gets a lesser share in the advertising budget of brands.

According to Ajay Mehta, Managing Director, Kinetic India, investment on OOH will only come back if we can prove to the advertisers that they are getting good returns on their investments. “Despite having the second-highest reach as a medium, OOH has commanded budget share in single-digit percentages. The investment on OOH will only come back in a meaningful manner after we can effectively prove to the advertisers that they are getting a bang for their buck. We have been doing this through a number of our tools, and wherever we have demonstrated the same, the clients are coming back to the medium,” shares Mehta.

And this need for a unified measurement system has only been compounded by the COVID crisis.

Giving insights into the minds of the marketers reeling under the COVID crisis, Ashutosh Sharma, Head-Demand Business, Moving Walls, shares “We're seeing increasing calls for any media spends to be closely linked to results and this is largely the reason why OOH's various stakeholders are investing heavily in audience movement data and planning solutions.” Due to the impact of the pandemic COVID-19, brands' marketing budgets are already under scrutiny as the focus shifts on cost-cutting, employee retention, and digital transformation to cater to remote working, he adds.

Gautam Bhirani, Managing Director, Eyetalk Media Ventures, a DOOH agency, too feels that fresh data and accurate insights have never been more important. "COVID-19 has not only shifted business trends but also consumer priorities and the entire marketing landscape," says he.

However, a unified measurement system for the OOH industry doesn't seem like an easy move at the moment. In March 2020, there was an RPF, with some prominent OOH owners taking the lead in coming up with a unified measurement system, but the execution was put on halt due to COVID-19 and the conversation now seems to have died down. The zeal to construct and implement an in-house measurement system, however, has only been amplified with some OOH agencies constructing their own. In the past two weeks during this unlock stage, several prominent OOH agencies have launched their own measurement systems. Kinetic India launched 'India On The Move', Madison OOH launched 'OTS Measurement Updates for COVID in the Unlock stage’, and Eye Talk Ventures launched ‘People’.

And this goes on to say that moving forward, having a measurement system will be vital for any OOH agency's business growth.

Speaking about the concept and workings of Kinetic’s measurement system launched two weeks ago, Ajay Mehta said, “Our newly launched tool, IOM – India On The Move, allows investments to be based on efficiency rather anecdotal evidence. It analyses multiple data points to track traffic patterns and movement across road, rail, and air. Through this, we can accurately track the current status of mobility across India. Combining this with our existing data sets, we are able to prove real-time figures on audience dispersion and aggregation.”

Gulab Patil, Founder & CEO at Lemma explains that there are two aspects to measurement in OOH, the pre-planning phase where you use tools to measure audience movement and post-campaign measurements that provide audience intelligence and gauge ad impact.

Patil, sharing about their own audience measurement tool, said, "Falcon is an AI-enabled planning tool by Lemma that maps the hourly audience density to locations which helps brands zero down on the most optimal screens to maximize audience reach. Lemma also provides post-campaign measurement which ranges from basic data like audience age, gender etc. to some advanced insights like handset ownership, persona, brand affinity and more. Not only this, Lemma helps brands measure ad impact as well, through brand lift surveys. Lemma enables these measurement capabilities using its in-house DMP (data management platform), infused with data from IOT beacons, data-partnerships, mobile intelligence & location intelligence. Lemma operates solely on data-driven media decisions, right from step 1 i.e planning OOH to post-campaign data-harnessing that allows for mobile retargeting as well." 

Just last week, Madison OOH too launched its own measurement tool 'OTS Measurement Updates for COVID-19 Unlock Times'. According to Dipankar Sanyal, CEO, Platinum Outdoor, a Madison vertical, the COVID-19 scenario has significantly changed user mobility. “The current traffic movements are very different when compared to pre-COVID times. Realizing this unpredictable outdoor scenario, it is important to know where traffic is actually moving and thereby provide realistic data and measurement to our clients," he opined.

Sharing insights on the newly launched measurement tool and the solutions it offers, Pallavi Patil, National Director Planning and Strategy, Madison OOH, shared, “The algorithm of our traffic count tool has a new feature to provide OTS based on current mobility with a location level detailing. The extension utilizes Google mobility reports. To make it more granular, a 1km vicinity to a particular location is mapped and dispersion of touchpoints studied. The dataset provides the change compared to a baseline value which was pre-COVID and we have seen a difference in recovery basis the touchpoint and market.”

Ashutosh Sharma, speaking about their own measurement solutions, said, “Our own robust solution is powered by a patented multi-sensor framework that recognizes the limitations of the various sources of location-based data. Billboards and place-based media sites are found in different types of locations - indoor, outdoor, CBD, highways, transit, and remote locations. Our planning solution addresses all types of locations and can measure any new location within minutes. We have also recently extended our solution to add location-based mobile advertising as an extension to the OOH campaign."

Adding on to the innovative solutions conceptualized by OOH agencies, DOOH media company Eyetalk Media Ventures last week launched ‘People’, a unified audience management platform that gathers, organizes, and activates first, second, and third-party data.

"Amid the economic crisis in these uncharted territories, with People, we have tried to bring answers in the form of data to questions a marketer would have while investing in Out Of Home media,” said Gautam Bhirani.

“People provide actionable audience insights daily, covering our network spread across 500+ unique locations. With this, the platform will help marketers Quantify - Classify audience and procure DOOH impressions at a price that complements footfalls. The platform also provides an opportunity to integrate our DOOH assets with mobile to amplify a digital campaign which will help measure brand ROI,” he added.

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