Proof of Play Standardization For Digital Out of Home, An Open Invite To Help Make It Work Globally

October 30, 2018
Charlotte Jones

OpenLoop Programmatic Digital OOH

Hypothesis

Globally agreed standards for independent 3rd party verification of advertising playouts (down to a panel and individual play level), will support the growth of the digital OOH market globally.

Situation Analysis

The medium is enjoying increased spend, digital inventory supply continues to grow at pace and digital OOH may soon be the fastest growing media channel in multiple markets. There are new companies entering the sector with the goal of helping improve how the channel operates. This all reflects the significant opportunity we believe digital OOH has.

I don’t believe that there’s one platform or service that can truly solve all the challenges we face. I think it would be good for all the parties trying to solve a particular challenge to come together for a conversation so we can move forward with an agreed standard.

My goal with this ‘open invite’, is for it to be a rallying call for us all to collaborate to implement global reporting standards for digital OOH. I want us to work together to build trust and transparency within the sector. Transparency is a hot topic in advertising right now, and I believe that embracing transparency and setting global standards is the best chance we have to really help our channel grow.

But before I go too far into how we view proof of play, we want to acknowledge that we are not alone in facing challenges. From the rise of ad blockers in the online world to on-demand TV and the decline of traditional print media, each advertising channel has its own unique challenges to overcome. When tackled in a collaborative way with other industry experts, the complexity of the challenge can be reduced.

Reporting Levels

The last six years of my career has been spent working in the increasingly exciting world of digital OOH. In that time I have partnered closely with media owners, specialists, advertisers and agencies and this proximity have given me a real insight into the reporting challenge. I have digested the various methods for reporting I’ve come across and condensed it down into this diagram you see below.

Proof of Play Standardization Digital OOH

As the diagram illustrates on the far left we have completely manual, quite time-consuming reporting and over to the far right we have fully automated and transparent reporting. What this diagram also illustrates is where self-verification ends and independent verification begins.

This scale is constantly evolving as new technology emerges and I am certain that the number of reporting levels will increase. However, for where we are today, I believe that this an accurate picture of how digital OOH is currently providing proof of play and verification of campaign playout.

Effort Versus Value

Being able to state that advertising is independently verified offers businesses high value and will build trust with advertisers. Of course, in order to reach the situation outlined in my hypothesis, will require significant effort. Businesses will have to change their processes and find alignment with each other, even with competitors. We will have to be collaborative as there is no organization or individual that can solve these problems alone.

Let’s consider the correlation between the amount of effort needed to operate and develop these new systems compared to the business value that is returned based on the current reporting levels.

In the short term, there needs to be significant effort and investment to achieve an optimal way of working. But that investment will return long-term value to the sector.

Proof of Play Standardization Digital OOH

Additional Forms of Verification

It’s essential to have all the different data points at a player level to ensure the correct content was served to the right location at the agreed time, however, player data alone doesn’t confirm the content was displayed on the screen or that the screen was turned on.

We also need to consider how the other data sets can be overlaid with proof of play logs so they correspond exactly to what was shown on screen at a given time.

We need to consider if having computer vision, pixel tracking and live webcams should be mandatory within standardized reporting and how best to overlay mobile carrier data to show how many of the intended audience had the opportunity to see the content.

A Reason To Believe

If you’ve got this far I hope it means you are bought in. If you need any further proof it’s worth considering how the digital online space has delivered significant global revenue growth through providing a medium with universal standards – key evidence to support my hypothesis.

There is a strong belief today that digital OOH has a big opportunity to find new revenue from existing digital budgets and the reports from the likes of Magna and PQ Media clearly point to that.

We already have support for a collaborative approach from trade organisations, outdoor specialists, media owners, signage software developers and complementary services in multiple markets. There is momentum to this program and I truly hope you will join up.

Want To Get Involved?

If you are a media owner, publisher, media agency, outdoor specialists, digital signage software developer, DSP, SSP, exchange, hardware manufacturer or any other type of business involved in the OOH sector please reach out to me to continue this discussion.

As a starting point, you can request access to our proposed standards (a thought starter). You will be prompted to enter your email address, which will allow us to organise a next-steps meeting.

Thank you for your interest.

Ben Putland, Managing Director at QDOT.