Kym Frank on the Path to Real Time Impressions

On yesterday’s Billboard Insider podcast Stephen Freitas suggested the out of home industry needs to move towards real time impressions data in order to compete effectively with online advertising.  Billboard Insider asked Geopath President Kym Frank  about the path to real time impressions.

Kym, how often does existing Geopath impressions data get updated. 

In the past, Geopath issued “Average Weekly Impressions” that were updated annually. This included average impressions by hour of day. This was a solid approach considering that population movement is typically consistent year over year — unless something unusual happens – like COVID-19.  

As the pandemic began to disrupt normal traffic patterns, Geopath, our partners at Intermx, and our Insights Committee recognized the industry’s need for near-real-time data to reflect what was actually happening on the streets of America.  

We were able to generate several new products in 2020 to fill this gap utilizing existing data resources that the organization was already leveraging for its place-based measurement methodology. These products included near-real-time mobility data, measuring the movement of consumers throughout the country, as well as impression adjustment metrics demonstrating the directional impact of population flow changes on the delivery of OOH advertising.  

Geopath is now constantly monitoring real-time audience movement and working with the industry to determine the optimal data release schedule cadence moving forward. This year, we will be updating the impressions data with incremental solutions and releases throughout the year. 

Is real time impressions data something which is feasible in the out of home industry? 

Providing impressions data in near-real time is possible in the out of home industry, but the availability of that level of measurement has significant business implications that need to be considered 

Near-real-time data will have a massive impact on everything we do as an industry – the internal software being utilized by our members, impression guarantees, the way contracts are written, inventory management systems, data storage, compute costs, and even the organizational structure and roles of employees within our member companies 

What has to happen for the industry to get there? 

The OOH ecosystem needs to determine if investing in this level of measurement will result in positive ROI for the industry and fully understand how to handle the business implications as they arise. In order to prevent significant disruption, software, training, staffing, business rules, and infrastructure need to be in place in advance. The industry also needs to decide what features and functionality make the most sense. Should data be delivered hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly? What demographics and targets should be included?  

Building the data solution itself is, in some ways, much easier than ensuring that it is understood, adopted and results in the industry recognizing incremental revenue.  

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  1. If the industry really wants access to real time data they’re going to have to use camera technology and right now I don’t see that anywhere in these remarks. Why is the industry so afraid of using camera technology to measure traffic? Chances are it’ll show that there’s more traffic than we think there is.