This month in the ‘CEO Spotlight’, we welcome Aileen Lee, CEO of Danoo in San Francisco .
- You came from a career in the world of investments. What intrigued you to enter the DOOH sector and what has compelled you to stay?
- Your screens have been in coffee shops, yogurt chains and high-end delis. Now you are working with Trofie to put your screens in airports. Which business sector will be Danoo’s #1 priority in the future? Has this changed your business focus?
- Tell us about your airport screens: will they be different from what we see in other airports? Will they be external as well as internal? How many screens? And will they offer interactivity for consumers and/or staffs?
- Your screens in delis and coffee shops allow customers to submit their own events, art, photography and Web videos. How is this controlled, and are the submissions seen nationally?
- What are your current revenues and how are they being affected by the current economic situation?
- Following in that same vein, from your perspective, how do you see the current economic situation affecting the digital out-of-home sector in the near future, in the U.S. and globally?
- How does Danoo monetize the screen real estate? Do brands get 100% of the screen? What portion of the screen is allocated to the local store, the local news, and live data feed?
- Do you have any data and/or specific research on how effective your model is? Explain, please.
- Do you have any aims to move into other sectors, e.g. fashion stores in malls or transit? Why or why not?
- What are your plans to expand your screens in coffee shops, etc., into other cities and in what time frame? Any thoughts of going international?
- In general, what are you opinions on UGC – user generated content?
Yes, I joined Danoo from Kleiner Perkins, a venture capital firm that is an investor in Danoo. (I’m still a partner there.) Kleiner specializes in helping companies grow from an early stage, and looks for opportunities to help create whole new industries. It was a backer of companies like Google, Amazon.com, Netscape, and Genentech. When looking at the DOOH space, we saw the characteristics of the kind of green field KP looks for. There was no question in our minds that this industry would grow to become a permanent and valuable part of the media landscape.
When we met the team at Danoo, the right combination was there. It had a great team, a low cost, scalable technology platform, a vision for a great customer experience, and it had started building a network which consumers, advertisers and venue owners loved. But, there was no CEO on board. So I was named chairman and I found myself spending a lot of time with the company, seeing so much opportunity in the category and for Danoo. It became a natural transition. After a decade at KP as an advisor to startups, I found myself wanting to jump back into an operating role to help Danoo and our category. I’m fortunate there was such a great fit, as there is nothing more exciting than helping build a company with a great product, and helping to build an industry.
Our mission has always been to deliver the most relevant information and entertaining content to consumers in their places, when they have time to pay attention. We try to understand consumers’ lifestyles, where they spend their time – and bring the right information to them, tailored to where they are and what’s relevant to them. So expanding to reach people in airports is a natural extension. We’re growing – from reaching millions of consumers in cities to also being in the top airports, where people also have time to wait and are interested in staying connected.
The Danoo Traveler experience will be tailored to what’s most relevant to travelers and frequent flyers as they wait for their flights. On average, consumers have 45 minutes to wait in the terminal post-security. So the content will be a mix of important national news to make sure people are in the loop, weather forecasts, entertaining content like short form videos and trivia, and advertising targeted to the frequent flyer audience.
We average two or three screens in each newsstand or gift store, located in key merchandising areas and near the point-of-sale. So this is an outstanding way to reach frequent flyers and travelers with dynamic video media while they have time to pay attention. Being near point-of- sale also gives us the opportunity to influence what travelers purchase and sample. We’re excited to offer what we call an ‘immersive marketing solution’ to advertising partners in these venues – a combination of screens, interactivity with the phone via SMS, product sampling and employee participation. We’ve done some case studies on this with our partner in airports, Trofie, and the impact on sales has been really outstanding.
A good amount of the content featured on Danoo screens is recommended and submitted by the Danoo viewer community. We have a growing number of regulars who watch Danoo frequently and who submit content they find locally or generally interesting. We also get submissions from local bands, museums, photographers and a variety of content owners. Submissions are made via the ‘participate’ tab on our website or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We have editorial staff that reviews submissions in each market, which helps us maintain a local feel in our programming, as well as a team in our San Francisco headquarters who help select what is most interesting for the screen nationally. We really appreciate all the submissions!
There aren’t many businesses that aren’t being affected by the current economy. But the tough economy has caused us to be even more disciplined about making sure we understand the needs of our consumers, venue partners, and advertising partners, and about making sure we deliver great, measurable value to each. We are an extremely efficient media for difficult times because people really pay attention to our content; we are extremely geo-targetable (each screen has an individual IP address); we offer great reach in the top cities; and we engage and influence a very desirable audience. But on top of that, we also work closely with clients to craft solutions to address specific marketing objectives, and provide proof of performance metrics to measure the success of each campaign. Those elements make it compelling for marketers to work with us despite the difficult economy.
We are working actively with a broad number of clients, some who have specific audience and geo-targeting goals; some who have goals of influencing transactions and driving retail traffic; and others who want to build their brand and build a 1:1, more grass-roots relationship with consumers through screen media and interaction with the mobile phone. (This is a new solution we are in the process of rolling out.)
We’re a private company, so we don’t disclose revenues. We’re fortunate to be well-backed financially and to have great cost advantages due to our technology platform and having both U.S.- and China-based teams. So we have the resources to build the right foundation with consumers and advertising customers for the long term.
The economy is having an impact on the sector. As we already discussed, the tougher economy is causing all companies to look harder at the value they offer consumers, venue owners and advertisers. During a time when ‘flat is the new up’, what we offer has to give advertisers a reason to buy when they are working with flat or decreasing resources.
This economy will also likely cause industry consolidation. Several years ago, a lot of forward thinking people saw the potential of this new media. Bringing tailored, relevant content to consumers – the right message, at the right place and time – should be, by definition, more efficient and effective for advertisers. So networks were started in a variety of places and geographies, targeting a variety of audiences. But the financing market has become much tighter, and working with a large number of small networks with different ad standards and measurements is not very efficient for advertisers.
If some of these networks start to consolidate, we’ll be able to deliver better impact and pool resources – specifically, larger, more consistent audiences; broader geographic scale; consistent ad formats; better measurability; more efficiency for advertisers; and likely, better results. We have already started to see some activity of this nature, I expect that will continue.
A good portion of our content is fed via RSS feeds, so what you see on the screen will be fresh and it will keep you up to date on what’s going on in the world. We also tailor our content mix by market, to maximize the appeal in each city, since we’ve found regional tastes differ. Our technology platform is built to be able to tailor the content mix, programming wheel, and the look and feel, down to the screen level – which gives us a tremendous amount of flexibility.
For advertisers, we offer full screen media. We also offer additional solutions for advertisers in terms of sponsored custom content, dynamically localized creative, mobile downloads in our venues, in store sampling, and more.
We do offer a portion of the screen time to each venue partner. They can use this space to welcome customers, share their history, or promote key items on the screen. This works incredibly well in terms of building measurable customer loyalty and influencing transactions. We have an online portal for our retail partners to create and manage digital marketing campaigns, and our creative services team also helps with templates and suggestions.
We have conducted a lot of research studies, both internally and by third-party vendors, to demonstrate the impact of our media. Studies have shown very high audience engagement, with 84% of people who notice the screen saying they spent some or all their time watching the content. Our ad recall numbers are also very strong: we’ve seen from 25% to 70% ad recall depending on the campaign, (averaging 42%), and we’ve seen purchase intent scores increase two-to-three times after a given campaign.
At a more product specific level, we’ve done a number of point-of-sale studies, both in our City and Traveler networks, to demonstrate how our media can increase sales of featured items by 20%-100+%.
And as I mentioned, we just completed work with a number of advertisers on a beta program to deliver mobile content downloads in our venues. We’re working with advertisers to use the screen to drive awareness and to invite consumers to download relevant content to their mobile phone. The results we’ve been seeing are pretty significant. The Danoo audience is proving to be very receptive to unique content on their phones, which provides advertisers with a new way to engage with a very mobile audience. We might just have the ideal environment for inviting mobile downloads and for helping consumers discover mobile content.
We do plan to grow into other sectors, and also plan to partner with leading companies in other sectors.
In addition to the rapid airport expansion we’re currently working on (we’re part way into a 40+ airport deployment plan), we are currently in the process of rolling out our next city, which we haven’t announced yet. And we have additional expansion plans which I can’t talk about yet, but stay tuned. We are definitely growing and are always looking for additional opportunities.
We like user-generated, and user-contributed content. It is a great way to identify content that has organic appeal and is less mainstream. It allows us to learn what our viewers like, and helps us stay ‘tapped in’ to what’s going on in our communities. The content is always reviewed which gives us an added filter – but it is a great way to leverage our community, build loyalty and stay relevant.