Directions Magazine (DM): Can you explain in detail the linkage between out-of-home (OOH) advertising and a mobile, location-aware platform? How can an OOH ad (billboard, etc.) seen by a consumer be linked to a mobile platform that uses near field communication (NFC), Wifi, etc.?
Mikhail Damiani (MD): We see mobile as an extension of OOH advertising, allowing a brand to go past impressions and views to an actual engagement. Users can download and view exclusive content such as videos, music, books; receive and redeem offers and coupons; download applications; sign-up for lists and obtain additional information. These are highly qualified interactions, as the consumer is making a concerted effort to connect with the brand and the campaign. The method of mobile engagement will depend on the environment and the OOH medium that is being activated. For example, a consumer-facing bus shelter, mall kiosk or airport diorama can take advantage of technologies like NFC, QR and short message service (SMS), where users have the proximity and time to interact. Bluetooth and WiFi can also be deployed in these scenarios as a broadcast medium that will give people in the vicinity of the OOH media an opportunity to receive certain content. For large format signage that is not within reach, geofencing, URL links and SMS will be the most effective.
DM: Is the idea to offer ad buyers a mobile option as part of the marketing mix that they might not have considered otherwise?
MD: By bringing mobile into the OOH campaign, ad buyers will have the ability to weave consistent messaging throughout the overall media mix. For example, if the client has a social media campaign, we can now tie that into the mobile experience as part of the OOH campaign and continue that conversation with the users as they go about their daily routines.
DM: What metrics do you expect to provide to the ad buyer that leverage the “seamless experience” you expect to deliver?
MD: We measure the number of mobile interactions, the method of interaction (NFC vs. QR), the exact date/time and location, what content is being accessed, information about the device of the users, and even information about the user – his/her history and preferences. The more information we have about what consumers like, want and tend to interact with, the better we can target those consumers with offers and messages that are interesting and relevant to them.
DM: What do you see as the market potential (the percentage of total ad spend) for ad buyers considering integrating OOH with location-based advertising? Is this somewhere in the low single digits?
MD: There is currently a large disconnect between the amount of time consumers spend on their mobile phones and the share of total ad spend attributed to mobile. This provides a huge opportunity in the space and the total spend for mobile advertising will likely surpass the total spend for OOH. When zeroing in specifically on the mobile opportunity in OOH, we feel that the mobile enhancement as a percentage of the total OOH budgets can be in the low double-digits and bring billions of dollars in additional revenue to the industry over the next several years.
DM: NFC is just a part of the overall location-based advertising push. What’s real and what’s hype at this point, and when do you see the market reaching “acceptance”?
MD: NFC is certainly a popular acronym these days; however, I wouldn’t necessarily call it hype. It is currently present in about 25% of smartphones in the U.S. market and we see a significant percentage of our campaign interactions coming from NFC. It still trails some of the other engagement technologies but is steadily gaining traction from both hardware and user standpoints. As we see more broad-based consumer utilizations of NFC such as payments and ticketing, the numbers will grow at an increasing pace.