Syncing Radio And Out-of-Home: An Actual Thing You Can Do

radioDOOHIt's possible to sync radio ads and digital billboards to reach drivers with cross-channel messaging – but scale, targeting options and measurement are roadblocks to adoption.

For one, there’s just not that much inventory available programmatically yet.

“It’s nascent,” admitted Mark van de Crommert, CEO of Mediasynced, an Amsterdam-based TV/online syncing company that recently released a product that uses radio spots as a signal to trigger DOOH ads.

It’s early days for DOOH RTB in the US, but in the Netherlands, it’s even earlier, with just six programmatic outdoor screens available and only around 130 digital displays in Shell gas stations across the country.

But advertisers such as insurer Centraal Beheer have begun to experiment with the technology, and they’re seeing decent results.

The Centraal Beheer arm of Achemea, the largest insurance provider in the Netherlands, was looking to boost car insurance sales and conquest the competition in what is already a highly saturated market – a bit like the constant tussle in the US among GEICO, Allstate, Progressive and State Farm.

The brand’s typical mix relies heavily on TV, radio and digital advertising, but out-of-home hadn’t made an appearance on a media plan for at least the last five years. OOH was expensive and, frankly, not all that exciting.

“Outdoor usually requires a pretty high investment, so if we want to use it, we have to look for ways to make it more effective and relevant,” said Olger Smit, managing director of digital at Omnicom Media Group Netherlands, home to OMD, Centraal Beheer’s media agency.

The opportunity to reach people when they’re actually driving on the highway and listening to a Centraal Beheer radio spot proved compelling enough for the brand to test-drive the tech in a pilot that ran from late January to early February.

“We felt that could create a stronger effect together beyond just hearing the ad on the radio or just seeing the billboard,” said Ellen van der Horst, advertising manager at Centraal Beheer.

Mediasynced monitors live radio feeds from stations across 15 countries and maintains a partnership with MyAdbooker, a Dutch aggregator that hooks into outdoor inventory. MyAdbooker has integrations with several DSPs, including Adform and Platform 161, with Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager on the road map.

When Mediasynced determines that there are enough people listening to a spot to make the buy worthwhile, it triggers a signal to run a digital billboard ad in conjunction with the audio.

Most of the ads were fired off during the a.m. commute, when the largest number of listeners are tuning into one of a small number of popular morning talk shows and music programs. For now, that’s the level of targeting available  a sort of GRP for the radio.

The ads stay up on the screen from anywhere between two minutes to seven or eight minutes, depending on the price.

And it’s not cheap. The base CPM for a DOOH/synced buy is around 12 euros. With the tech vendor costs added in – the SSP, DSP and Mediasynced – it can get to north of 20 euros.

That’s due in large part to the experimental nature of tech and the incipient nature of the ecosystem. Regardless, Centraal Beheer did see value. Total sales uplift for car insurance during the campaign was 3% above target.

Although the scale was clearly limited, the fact that there are far fewer billboards in the Netherlands, digital or not, could be seen as an advantage. Less clutter.

“[Because] there is not as much as you might see in America and the UK, outdoor in the Netherlands has much more of an impact,” said van der Horst.

That said, syncing radio and DOOH won’t move beyond the experimental phase if the pool of programmatic outdoor inventory doesn’t grow.

“The actual syncing here isn’t the challenge so much as getting digital out-of-home connected to DSPs, but we know that out-of-home publishers are investing in this space,” said Smit, who noted that OMD is running digital out-of-home pilots with several other advertisers and actively pitching the technology to clients. “Previously, outdoor was only for the big budget advertisers with one message to get out to millions of people with no targeting whatsoever – but now it’s getting interesting.”

Other players are also cooking up innovations in the DOOH space.

While tech companies like Placed are starting to use mobile location data to connect out-of-home campaigns to in-store sales, advertisers are getting creative, too. General Motors, for example, is using cameras on billboards to determine the type of car driving by. If it’s a competing brand, GM tosses an ad up on a billboard a bit further down the road, explaining what makes GM a better choice than whatever the person is currently driving.

 

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