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 Gourmet Advertising Campaigns

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Gourmet Advertising Campaigns

New York City Midtown Tunnel Billboard

​​​Posted: February 27th, 2017
By: Andy Sriubas,​ EVP/ Strategic Planning & Development

As Seen in The Huffington Post


Why advertising is like cooking a gourmet meal:
the media mix recipe

We see IBM’s “Watson” Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine all over the place. Every televised sporting event is sponsored by another commercial highlighting an amazing new use for the technology. A group of chefs even spent last summer using it to help them cook gourmet meals. As Bon Appétit magazine reviewed, it was “part culinary BFF, part kitchen ninja, and part super-smart computer.” Picking the appropriate ingredients, in the correct proportions, is the art and science of culinary success.

Advertising is a lot like gourmet cooking. Advertisers need to select the right mix of media outlets for each campaign in order to get the best result. The U.S. ad industry is a constantly evolving $200+ billion ecosystem which includes a myriad of diverse options such as television commercials, mobile banner ads, YouTube pre-rolls and even those squiggly inflatable street-side plastic people. How many ads, in what mediums, and at what price will their cross-media “buy” turn the biggest audiences into the greatest number of customers for the least expensive price? The answers to these questions define successful advertising strategies, campaign by campaign.

While different media owners will argue that their inventory is better and/or more valuable than others, it is hard to argue that a one-size-fits-all provider exists - frankly, it doesn’t today. Each ad unit has its own set of advantages with no two alike. Picking among the bunch is akin to going to five different stores in order to buy ingredients for that gourmet meal.

Media “Super Powers”

Each media outlet has its own set of unique characteristics. These features elevate individual mediums and set them apart from others – their “super powers.” Marketers gravitate toward certain mediums as opposed to others given the specific needs of individual campaigns. Like with the gourmet meal, this is an art and often one that returns mixed results. Individually known to be terrific outlets for certain purposes, a single medium can’t complete the meal all by itself. Contemporary marketing requires cross-media solutions in order attract today’s dynamic audiences with sophisticated palates.

When media types are combined appropriately, they produce exponential outcomes. But finding the optimal combination of media today, is not always easy. Agencies help their clients choose amongst many options using tried and true “recipes” but they also experiment as new ingredients and information is available for evaluation.

Selecting the Right Media is Now a Science

Budget allocations across marketing departments and agencies are becoming increasingly complex – often fueled by a set of additional data elements and new insight. It is, for all intents and purposes, a science. Although the science is in a nascent state today, we will see present day automated platforms evolve into AI controlled media mix modeling. This is not science fiction.

The science of media buying will evolve as efficient media platforms - most recently built by and included within web and mobile ecosystems – converge with some other effective media outlets such as traditional cable TV, broadcast and out-of-home (OOH).

Traditional outlets have historically lacked common cross-media performance metrics and automated buying systems that efficient web and mobile media platforms have made industry standards. Once these inadequacies are corrected, the overall industry will evolve into a far more liquid advertising market. Thus enabling marketers to prepare a campaign involving individual media “super powers” – by pulling exactly the right amount of each medium for the best overall results.

Location-Based Transit Advertising

But what if there was a media outlet that could provide all of these advertising strengths? What if a media venue combined all of these super powers with audience data and a set of buying tools that provided direct two-way interaction with that media owner’s platform? Can all of this be contained in one package?

Is there a heavily trafficked outlet that:

  • Has a substantial amount of captive dwell time?

  • Is great for national brands and local advertisers alike?

  • Provides deep reach across every demographic segment?

  • Has multiple ad unit configurations including rich video?

  • Influences potential customers frequently during repeated daily journeys?

  • Is in a place where ad-blocking is not an issue?

  • Has guaranteed view-ability?

  • Is in close proximity to multiple points of purchase (recency)?

  • Combines with and primes location-targeted mobile ad units for direct feedback loops?


What would it take to create a one-size-fits-all ad medium? Such an outlet would need to be powered by a platform that provides robust geo-location audience data and a toolset that enables media buying and content posting to nomadic but targetable audience segments. It would also have to include a content management system that supports multiple media types delivered in real-time and have a proof of performance reporting system to wrap it all together.

Those same performance stats and data would then need to be provided in a form that was common to other media types and use a currency (i.e. impressions) with high integrity, that can be easily compared and contrasted against other media outlet opportunities; keeping it honest with market-based pricing.

It certainly is a tall order, but this too is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Transit venue advertising will begin to resemble a real world “Hall of Justice” where municipal transit systems have all of these core media super powers. When a comprehensive geo-location media buying platform is added, they become the advertising equivalent of a Costco for gourmet chefs.

Applying Technology – Making it Reality

OUTFRONT Media is laying the foundation for this vision with our partners at the MBTA (Boston), WMATA (Washington D.C.), and MTA (New York) transit systems. Thanks to new advancements in OOH technology and infrastructure, transit media applications have the potential to exceed all other known media types. Such advancements will include: digital screens that can show static or robust video across stations, trains, and terminals; cloud-based content distribution complemented with mobile device integrations; and a central data management hub providing impression-based planning elements and intelligent performance metrics.

Of course, it’s not only marketers and media sellers who will benefit from transit advertising’s progression into the future. Contemporary advertising platforms promise to provide transit systems themselves with additional sources of revenue and offset some of their ever increasing budget demands.

Additionally, the advanced displays used for advertising will provide transit systems and their customers with valuable communication networks for emergency messaging, important news feeds and passenger way-finding. Advertising platforms will play a significant role in bringing our transit systems into the future and enabling the greater goal of a connected smart-city transformation.

Searching for the right media mix is a never ending game of optimization and compromise. However, with modern OOH improvements, transit advertising promises to be one of the greatest marketing opportunities available to advertisers. It’s a fusion of efficient media platforms and effective media value, engineered to deliver the results sought by every marketing “chef.” Pretty soon Watson will be cooking these meals.

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