A digital out-of-home network is made up of a lot of different pieces. Most of the time, these pieces work together well, but there are always unforeseen factors that can combine to take a screen, or portion of a network, offline for an extended period of time. For your advertising clients, this is entirely unacceptable, and if the frequency of problems becomes excessive, you can count yourself out of their next campaign.
Software is becoming much more advanced, and now automatically confirms if an ad has been placed and displayed in a cycle. If there are screens that are down, the software can alert the operations manager that there is a problem. But at the same time it also produces audits that are given to advertisers which show that fewer ads were delivered than expected. That's why it is so important to make sure that you do all you can to eliminate downtime.
Many DOOH networks (like ours) have one screen per location, and since our screens don't float in midair (yet) we rely on existing infrastructure in multiple ways. When there is a problem with power or connectivity, or a serious problem like water damage, it is crucial to have a technician on the scene quickly to resolve an issue. But this can present new problems.
Some DOOH networks are located in places that are not open 24 hours per day. Very few businesses that host DOOH are willing to give keys and security alarm codes to technicians, but this is the most effective way to evaluate and fix problems, when there are no viewers in front of the screen. Instead of waiting for a location to open, and then sending in a technician, it is always worthwhile to discuss with the host that in case of downtime or a technical problem, a technician will have to visit the location during off hours. This way advertising impressions are not interrupted, and advertisers are kept happy. It is better for the host venue too, as the repairs can be made without interrupting their business either.
Minimizing downtime can also be achieved by frequent visits and tests to each specific location, even if it raises the cost of operating your network. Technical systems are like human health; fix tiny problems while they are still small instead of waiting for them to turn into big issues. Most importantly, since DOOH is still working to gain marketshare in the advertising landscape, bad experiences for brands and agencies with DOOH networks that don't have their act together makes it more difficult for everyone else to sell to them. So keep that in mind the next time you say "Ahh, they'll never notice," or "We'll get to it next week."
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.