In my 2nd October 2012 article ‘Seven Hurdles to Success‘ (split into two parts) I described the lack of comprehensive, reliable media-buying tools for placing digital signage DOOH campaigns and mentioned the “aggravation of aggregation”.
- The past three years have seen several DOOH ad space aggregators go out of business. The visible reasons were lack of scale in the ad space offerings, absence of reliable ROI measurement and the high overhead of behind-the-scenes multi-network campaign fulfillment and coordination, which all happened to be manual.
As a result, the first aggregators were not able to sustain enough demand from agencies and their clients.
The feedback I have been getting from the agency/media houses side suggests that there is still an acute need for an aggregator-type facility that would offer combined ad space from a large number of quality networks, brought to common denominators in media research, planning criteria and audience/campaign ROI measurement.
The next reincarnation of DOOH aggregators should avoid the mistakes of their predecessors and build their platforms on the principles of automation, standardization and accountability
The weeks following the publication showed that a long-sought solution to the cross-network DOOH media buying inefficiencies may be coming our way sooner than many expected.
Among other companies developing the next generation of multi-network campaign placement tools, Spafax Networks stands out, as it seems to tackle all major issues in a systemic, logical way that makes sense to the media-buying world.
Spafax Networks is part of WPP’s tenthavenue. The company was created specifically to find a high-tech way to connect media buyers and sellers in DOOH space, similar to what Doubleclick did for online display advertising.
The fact that this initiative was born inside the world’s largest advertising and PR agency holding (WPP) deserves special attention and I believe gives it a better shot at success.
It is the first time that a solution originates from within the advertising community, and not from a digital signage technology or service provider.
According to Patrick Bonomo, EVP of Spafax Networks, the SN: Xchange (SN: X) platform will offer:-
- automated cross-network DOOH campaign planning, buying and execution
- ‘Near real-time’ inventory updates will allow for real-time bidding (RTB)
- Proof-of-play and campaign performance reports that can be broken down to single ad play occurrence level for every cross-network campaign executed by SN:X
And the planning process will be facilitated by standardized metrics obtained via Nielsen audience impressions ratings and further enhanced by consumer behavior data for the targeted locations.
When specific campaigns have consumer engagement elements (e.g., via call to action, interactive content or mobile), advertising ROI measurements, such as cost-per-action and cost-per-transaction data, can be enabled through 3rd party providers (outside of the SN:X).
While the methodology, the workflow and the integration of the metrics and analytics were conceived by Spafax Networks, the technology engine for SN:X platform was built by Vistar Media, who customized their existing software product for Spafax Networks’ proprietary solution.
Mr. Bonomo is reluctant to use the word ‘aggregator’ to describe the Spafax networks platform. He prefers to refer to it as a “real-time bidding DOOH ad exchange”, or a consolidated DOOH ad network.
One of the key components of the SN:X is Vistar Media’s API that connects to individual content management systems running the participating DOOH networks.
This API addresses the current lack of interoperability standards in the digital signage industry. It allows Spafax Networks to insert an ad into a specific network’s schedule, enforcing required playback at required times and locations, regardless of which software is used to operate the network.
Several cross-network digital place-based media campaigns have already successfully run through the SN:X system, however Spafax Networks did not disclose any networks or names of advertisers.
Stay tuned however for my overview of the new generation of DOOH aggregators, ad exchanges and ad serving platforms coming up here on DailyDOOH in the New Year.