Those numbers are according to Wachovia Securities. The weekend before last in Boca Raton, Florida, the TAB (Traffic Audit Bureau) announced its plans to unveil a new measurement system called “Eyes On,” which is a much needed replacement for the antiquated DEC model.
Very Quick History of DECs
In the US DEC (Daily Effective Circulation) has been used for over 20 years to measure how many people have the opportunity to see a billboard. So, if the DEC of a wall in Times Square is 1.5 million, then that is the number of people that could see it on an average day. The vagary of the DEC is probably what has kept OOH to only 4% of the total advertising-spend in the US each year.
The New EOI
EOI (Eyes On Impressions) is the industry’s first real attempt to get on par with traditional forms of media. The EOI measures the amount of people likely to see an ad by measuring format and location. The numbers will be measured on a weekly basis as opposed to a daily one. The EOI will be deployed in the top 200 markets, which is so important to giving the measurement a fighting chance for survival.
Eyes On Integrity
TAB did a great job from the beginning of making sure to include people from all areas of the advertising community to participate in helping OOH become a credible medium. They included advertising heavy hitters such as Jack Sullivan (Starcom), Dave Yacullo (OMG) and Andrea MacDonald (MacDonald Media). Traditional, digital and non-traditional vendors were included such as Lamar, Zoom and Captivate as well as client-side thoughts from Bea Perez (Coca-Cola) and Mark Kaline (Ford). Having these players behind the new measurement system will be a great asset in legitimizing it.
The major concern of the new system is that the CPMs will raise thus relinquishing credibility from the current billboard buying process. I was surprised to hear these concerns for two reasons. One, even if it shoots the CPM up by $2, OOH is still significantly lower than other forms of media. Two, this new system improves credibility for the industry amongst media planners thus increasing value and in turn increasing buys.
Another concern was how the transition from DEC to EOI will affect the industry. As with all change, nothing will happen overnight. A common theme that Joe Philport (President of TAB) began to emphasize, increasingly as the conference continued, was to get used to the idea of life without DECs. For now, a VAI (Visability Adjustment Index) will be utilized. This index is simply a ratio that between DEC and EOI. 1 is the best.
Quick Hits from the Workshops
Three workshops took place during the conference. Two were formatted to educate on the new Eyes On system and the other was about the new DOOH (Digital OOH) frontiers being created. Honestly, I was more interested in the digital space because much of the questions that took place in the Eyes On workshops were questions stemming from fear of the unknown.
-Andrea MacDonald, President of MacDonald Media, confirmed that when media planners received DECs, they’re immediately irrelevant to any planner that sees them.
-Predictions about where digital will be in three years was very focused on allowing for more local markets to get involved in the game…Tommy Teepell, CMO of Lamar and always a hoot, predicted that a credit card will be buying OOH media in less than three years.
-The first Eyes On test results are set to be released in June 2008.
-Eyes On is set to rollout in Q4 of 2008.
-The industry is still unsure about how to effectively run a digital OOH network.
-The TAB touts that this will be running efficiently in 18 months. I don’t see it. There will be a lot of teaching many “old dogs new tricks.” Everything seems easy in principle but OOH has never been a sophisticated medium to sell. I sensed a lot of fear over the two day period.
-Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity and Kayak, made an excellent presentation. He did a wonderful job of creating a parallel between the Internet’s dot-com run and where OOH is trying to go now. Compare niche digital OOH networks to niche dot-coms of the late 90s.
-The two fastest growing mediums (OOH and Online) are 180 degrees apart and there is tremendous room for growth by combining them.
-I’ve been to the trade shows of many industries. Anyone in the OOH realm always seems to have the best parties. Go out with any group in the OOH industry and it becomes spring break for adults (the drinks are strong and everyone has a good story).