How close can Route get to programmatic buying? (02/05/14)

How close can Route get to programmatic buying?

In an age dominated by performance marketing and programmatic buying, how is out-of-home's £19 million audience delivery system, Route, helping clients improve the efficiency of their investment? Mark Henson, Head of Business Development at Primesight, explores.

There are times when the traditional media are barely acknowledged in the crowd crush of new technology, social strategies, data usage and the buying mechanics that are pushing marketing’s frontiers beyond previous recognition.

Performance marketing and programmatic buying are 2014's new buzz phrases. Indeed, the latter has been hailed as the antidote to "spray and pray" marketing via its ability to separate out audiences and buy them efficiently with the gilt-edged combination of critical mass and targeting capabilities.

But in this world of algorithms and software, how is out-of-home’s audience delivery system, Route, helping clients improve the efficiency of their investment?

Can out of home target someone who has just recently been on a website looking at a BMW 4 series? Not individually, but we do know which sites, from a universe of over 360,000, is likely to be seen by an AB male, aged between 25 and 55.

And what’s more, due to the vast increase in granularity of data behind Route, the efficiencies of targeting a defined audience has increased by up to 40 to 50% in most cases. This, in itself, is a huge leap in terms of efficiency and should be celebrated as such.

Look beyond the new and shiny

So why hasn't it hit the headlines? After all, if a television channel broke the news that advertisers would now be able to target pre-defined audiences at twice the efficiency as they previously did, like Sky IQ let's say, it would certainly make waves.

When Route was launched it was so huge in its remit and its data was unwieldy to extract. Now that the industry has had time to understand how best to use this revolutionary piece of research, clients are beginning to see the benefits of the £19m investment.

But our industry, like most others, pays disproportionate homage to the "new and shiny". The fact is that enhancements or significant evolution within an existing medium rarely get the same column inches as a perceived media first.

Strong case studies for Route are emerging

A good example of a brand using Route’s multi-layered data was Skype's recent out-of-home campaign where they used Route to identify posters that targeted its specific ethnic audiences and outside local convenience stores to remind their customers that they could top up their Skype credit at PayPoints at their local store.

Skype then amplified this relevance by matching their creative designs to the ethnic groups living in each individual area in order to achieve a higher rate of viewer’s self-association.

The real pearl lies in out-of-home’s delivery of these new, more efficiently bought audiences. Like programmatic buying, there is an equally radical potential for a medium that can now combine the benefits of increasing audience buying efficiency, whilst maintaining its inherent benefits of stature and scale. Providing an inclusive rather than an intrusive delivery and at a time when people have the time to consider purchase, be entertained or share.

What Route now allows advertisers to do is to shape a campaign based on a mix of traditional proximity data (the big currency in the mobile world) along with specific data across 256 different behavioural statements reflecting media habits, shopping habits, lifestyles, modes of transport as well as the usual demographic breakdowns.

It feels like a really exciting time for out of home as the industry continues to develop a delivery system that can make our broadcast formats, the ones that deliver mass coverage and high frequency, more efficient at either targeting traditional out-of-home audiences or attracting new advertisers into selecting more niche audiences for their needs.

The combination of geography, modality and personal information can afford out of home similar advantages to programmatic buying and it would be encouraging to think that as more clients discover the benefits Route has to offer, out-of-home’s massive investment in both its portfolio and audience measurement starts to gain a few more headlines.

Mark Henson is Head of Business Development for Primesight