By David Little
In mid-February 2012, the TV ratings service provider Arbitron released data counting all viewers who had watched the Super Bowl football championship earlier that month outside of their homes—e.g. at bars and restaurants. Across 44 media markets that were tracked with the company’s Portable People Meter (PPM) system, some 12 million people watched the game in these places. That equalled nearly 10 per cent of the 123 million adults who live in those markets, enough to lift the ‘in-home’ Super Bowl audience of 57.5 million people in those markets by 20.7 per cent.
When announcing those figures, Arbitron’s senior vice-president (SVP) of cross-platform sales and marketing, Carol Edwards, pointed out that while TV ratings have traditionally counted viewers at home, watching sports programming is often a group activity that specifically takes place outside of the home.
Similarly, digital out-of-home (DOOH) networks are drawing a huge, verifiable number of viewers everywhere from fitness clubs to gas stations, from airports to arenas. Nielsen, also well-known for measuring TV audiences, reported adults visiting 12 of these types of venues in the fourth quarter of 2010 were exposed to more than 500 million gross minutes per month of OOH media.
For advertisers, marketers and digital signage network operators with the vision to develop this emerging media market, the opportunity to create successful DOOH campaigns has never been greater. Doing so, however, depends upon five key ingredients:
- Setting goals.
- Choosing the right hardware and software.
- Successful deployment.
- Designing effective content.
- Collecting, analyzing and responding to audience metrics.
Like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, these elements of digital signage must be assembled properly to achieve a complete success in DOOH advertising.
Dorn Beattie, the founder, president and CEO of Solara Adworks in Coquitlam, B.C., is one example of a ‘puzzle master’ assembling these elements. He is currently building a digital signage network—known as ‘Solara360’—across North America as a franchisor.
This involves signing up franchisees to provide proprietary liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and related software to sports bar owners as a turnkey system. The system is provided to the bars for free.
The key to this business model is Solara’s proprietary display technology, which enables the playback of local, regional and national ads in an L-shaped space along two sides of each screen, without interfering with the sports programming’s visibility. The franchisees secure locations, manage deployment, sell ads and collect content for the loops that are scheduled and played back on the signs. The bar owners share in the ad revenue, with no responsibility at all for the signage.
Beattie’s approach exemplifies the goal-setting necessary for successful DOOH campaigns. Simply put, his goal is to provide a digital signage system so compelling that the bar owners can’t say no.
“We have a 100 per cent closing ratio of signing up sports bars,” he says.
Also, as that success rate would be difficult to sustain financially on his own, Beattie transitioned Solara to the franchise model, giving entrepreneurial go-getters the opportunity to invest in the necessary technology and then reap profits from ad sales.