Vistar Media Taps Carrier Data To Target Consumers Across Mobile And OOH

VistarMediaHere’s a potential new acronym for you: MOOH – that’s to say, mobile out-of-home.

Digital OOH programmatic player Vistar Media launched an extension of its cross-screen offering Wednesday via a partnership with AirSage, a little-known Atlanta-based company that collects data on consumer location and population movement.

AirSage captures and analyzes in the neighborhood of 15 billion anonymous cellular signal data points every day – a trove of information for companies looking to serve targeted, real-time messages to on-the-move consumers via mobile and OOH.

“Each time a device makes contact with a cell tower, AirSage captures that location,” said Andrea Moe, VP of product management and marketing at AirSage.

Historically, AirSage has sold its data to government entities, the transportation industry and commercial enterprises to help determine traffic patterns or plan road improvements based on signal clusters, which could represent areas of roadway congestion. The company has also recently moved into travel and tourism and market research.

The partnership with Vistar represents AirSage’s first foray into advertising.

“AirSage aggregates carrier data, but it doesn’t work with or for the carriers,” said Vistar co-founder Michael Provenzano. “It’s very rich data and no one is really using it for marketing purposes today.”

The geotemporal data provided by AirSage enables Vistar to create a better connection between location and a consumer’s real-world behavior. From there, it’s just a short step to monetizing that data for marketing purposes, said Provenzano. Vistar first started to link mobile and OOH inventory last year after partnering with location ad network Verve. AirSage broadens that reach exponentially.

“We build audiences based on where people go throughout their day and based on known affinities and specific behaviors, and then we activate media against that through out-of-home and through mobile executions,” Provenzano said.

For example, say a quick-serve restaurant (QSR) is looking to reach consumers with a new morning coffee offering. For starters, Vistar would determine the behavior of the target audience, a.k.a. anyone who visits a competing QSR between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Having built that audience, Vistar can help brands and agencies figure out where to place their digital OOH for maximum impact based on audience profiles built on a consumer’s actual movements. Complementary messaging sent via mobile is intended to seal the deal.

Location is becoming an increasingly important – albeit “elusive” – part of the overall strategy for many brands, said Gregg Colvin, chief operating officer of Universal McCann, which has been working with Vistar for about a year and a half.

“[Location] data enables brands to market to their consumers with increasing accuracy and relevance,” Colvin told AdExchanger. “The ability to ascertain and activate against location is critical to achieving conversion goals [and] represents a critical step toward achieving our overall marketing goals.”

One of those goals is the ability to “target the consumer journey online and offline,” Colvin said, who noted that “by connecting mobile and OOH we can create a more holistic and more compelling view of the customer journey.”

UM also uses Vistar for retargeting and in-store alerts and to reach consumers in their car, elevator, office or at home – wherever they happen to be. “This provides us a uniquely persuasive marketing canvas, although we must be careful to protect the consumer trust,” Colvin said.

Down the line Vistar – which integrates with a variety of mobile DSPs, including AdX, Nexage and MoPub – is looking to further strengthen its ties with the offline world through partnerships with Datalogix – in the works, according to Provenzano – and shopper data purveyor Catalina. Vistar is already working with location analytics company Placed and online market researcher uStamp.

Although programmatic is still in its infancy in the OOH world, Provenzano, who described Vistar as a “nerd-first” company focused on the tech first and foremost, is banking on growth. After all, clients are asking for cross-screen – and cross-screen at scale means programmatic.

“This move was very client-driven,” Provenzano said. “If a brand has a location strategy, the agency is going to buy out-of-home at a particular time based on that strategy. For us, the thinking goes that if it’s valuable to buy that space and time for OOH, then it’s also valuable to buy in mobile. We see this as a cross-screen solution.”


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