Digital out-of-home remains a young advertising medium. Not because the technology or know-how are new, but because DOOH networks are cropping up in places where there traditionally was no advertising before. This creates a hurdle for education among marketers who are dealing with new audiences, context and expectations.
For large companies with major marketing divisions and multiple agencies, DOOH is more accessible. They have the resources and time to understand its potential. Yet thanks to the scale of operations, these groups do not go after the little fish, they seek lots of impressions. This means that they focus on large markets first.
Smaller markets in the United States are generally less desirable for agencies to pick individually, and smaller DOOH networks that operate in smaller markets are at a disadvantage when it comes to big time ad sales. The SMBs that want to promote themselves locally do not yet have the manpower and familiarity with DOOH to make selling to them easy. This is magnified even more for ultra-local small businesses such as a barber shop or chain of restaurants. It is a matter of time, not desire; there are only so many hours in the day and dollars in the budget.
One technique to get ultra-local businesses to catch on to DOOH is to build content for them, but this costs money and eats up the hours of the day quickly. Tailored segments — such as a restaurant spotlight — can be a quick and easy way for small businesses to start to interact with DOOH, but it is important to ensure that the content remains dynamic and engaging. There is the risk in the end that revenue generated will not be enough to justify the cost, but it is as much of a marketing tool for the network among businesses and potential clients as it is for the businesses that advertise on it themselves. Once people see how it works, they will voluntarily come back for more.
Over time this, as everything with technology, will change. Younger marketers with digital backgrounds will rise up the ladder and have greater influence. But for smaller market networks, that time might not come soon enough. As it stands, big markets get more attention. So a DOOH network that wants to increase the chances of getting involved with bigger buys should look to see how they too might enter a larger market, either by adding locations or by forming partnerships with other DOOH networks, something that we will probably start to see a little more of across the industry.
Joe Matriss, Managing Director of Park Cast Network, an ad-based DOOH network with screens in public parking facilities in New York City and Chicago, shares his experiences, strategies and ideas to encourage more open dialogue between network operators for success across the medium.