New achievements in Outdoor Advertising Audience Measurement

Issue 133 of the magazine "Investigación & Marketing" publishes an article by Gonzalo Ortiz Paz, Business Development Manager at CUENDE, on the evolution of audience measurement in Outdoor Advertising, from which we offer an excerpt:

The turnover of the Outdoor media reached 282 million euros in 2014, a figure that has been cut by 50.3% since 2007, the year before the beginning of the economic crisis. In this period, its share of the total conventional media has fallen by 7% in this period, to 6.6% according to Infoadex. 

But their participation in advertising budgets does not correspond to the capacity to contact the population that their audience data show. According to data from the INE (National Statistics Institute) we spend an average of one hour a day on the street. Data from GEOMEX, the Outdoor Audience measurementsystem developed by CUENDE Infometrics, show that the medium obtains coverage of over 90% in metropolitan areas. A typical national circuit, consisting of around 1,700 advertising panels, reaches 39.94% of the population in two weeks. If we consider only those individuals who contact the circuit at least 5 times, the coverage reaches 33.04%. A typical circuit in the metropolitan area of Madrid, with less than 900 faces, reaches 93.27% of the inhabitants, with 86.72% coverage among those individuals who have contacted at least 5 times with the advertising circuit. 

While other media are immersed in a process of audience fragmentation, Exterior is strengthening its position as a mass advertising medium, both because of its capacity to contact the population and because of the concentration of supply due to business movements in the sector.

When analysing the history of outdoor advertising investment, we can see that despite the decline in recent years, it has increased its share by 53% since GEOMEX began measuring outdoor advertising audiences in 2000. At CUENDE Infometrics we are convinced that an important reason for this is the confidence that advertisers and media agencies have in the availability of impact, coverage and frequency data, profiled sociodemographically. With more than 40,000 interviews accumulated since its inception, plus the information provided by 7,900 panellists, whose movements have been recorded using a small A-GPS (Assisted-Global Position System) device, GEOMEX is a reliable and robust source that provides Outdoor Audience data to a commercial offer covering more than 80.It should be noted that the metrics and profiles provided by GEOMEX in Madrid are elaborated on average with a sample of 1,660 panellists per circuit. 

Even so, and with the aim of helping to improve Outdoor's share of overall advertising budgets, CUENDE Infometrics set out to improve and place Outdoor research at the forefront of innovation and accuracy in audience measurement.

The evolution of audience measurement for Outdoor Advertising in Spain

A working committee was formed with the participation of the main media agencies and exclusive Outdoor Advertising agencies, whose valuable contribution we are grateful for, and which has allowed us to reach a series of important decisions. The conclusions were presented in June, during the course of the XXIV AEPE (Association of Outdoor Advertising Companies) Outdoor Advertising Conference, by Petra Plaza, Insights Director of Dentsu/Aegis Network, representing the media agencies and by Diego Delgado, Marketing Intelligence Manager of Clear Channel, representing the Outdoor companies.

The first need raised by the agencies was to facilitate cross-media planning. In this sense, GEOMEX, expands its universe, eliminating the maximum age limit (set at 75 years old) and has proceeded to homogenize the metropolitan areas of GEOMEX and the EGM (General Media Study). In addition, the geographical area covered by the study, which covered 80% of the population, has been extended to include the inhabitants of those small towns where there are no advertising media managed by the main Outdoor companies. For cost-effectiveness reasons, the study had ruled out studying the incidence of those more or less sporadic trips made by the inhabitants of rural Spain to their provincial capitals or municipalities of reference for administrative or leisure reasons. GEOMEX will now incorporate the contribution of these individuals to the existing commercial media, making available to advertisers and agencies a data of impacts and national coverage, when a specific research is completed, province by province, whose results will soon be available.

The GEOMEX outdoor advertising audience measurement system does not simply count the number of people moving in the vicinity of an advertising panel. An analysis is made of the visibility area of each support according to its physical characteristics (height and width) and its location, geopositioned on digital cartography. Thanks to a patented process, the stretches of street from which the billboard is visible are automatically calculated, discarding areas where there are obstacles that make contact impossible. It is a complex process, especially in those advertising panels that are visible from several stretches of street (...). 

The calculation of the audience of an Outdoor medium continues by discarding those individuals whose direction of travel makes it impossible to see the medium. Unlike other media where there is certainty that the user will be located at a distance where they can adequately view and/or hear the media, in Outdoor, with some exceptions, there is no certainty in the distance and direction of travel of individuals. Outdoor advertising audience metrics are a calculation of OTS (Opportunity To See), of individuals who have had the opportunity to contact the message of an advertising panel by moving with a direction of travel and at a distance that allowed them to see it.

Precisely because of the passive nature of contact with the outdoor environment and the fact that it competes for the individual's attention, the working group has decided to apply a new concept in measuring Outdoor Audience. The Outdoor Audience data will not reflect the chance but the certain probability that an individual has seen the panel, resulting from reducing the Opportunity to See with the Visibility Adjust Contact (VAC), whose values indicate the reduction coefficient in different circumstances. (…)

A circumstance that other measurement systems do not take into account is the height at which the advertising panel is located. Outdoor audience measurement in Spain can be proud to be a pioneer worldwide in incorporating this factor. In order to assure advertisers and agencies that their advertising message will be seen, the industry has decided to use a restrictive criterion: in those cases where individuals have to raise their neck, even slightly, they are no longer considered Audience. The field of view is limited to 60º, which corresponds to the field of view of a person. Once again, we must take into account the fact that, given the dynamic nature of the individual-support relationship, the same individual may contact the support beforehand when he/she is at the furthest point of his/her path.

Outdoor advertising research is also advancing in the measurement of digital media, including digital signage, LED monopoles or large digital format, such as the one installed in the Plaza de Callao and the Mercado de Fuencarral in Madrid. All media with dynamic content benefit from an extra visibility factor because the movement focuses human attention. But in general, dynamic media adjust their cycle so that all creatives rotate during the time that an individual circulates through the visibility zone. However, digital media present non-advertising content, so there are individuals who do not get in contact with all advertisers. A system is being implemented to allow the inclusion of grids by media and to be able to make the intersection of the probability of passage of the individual with the probability that a given ad is broadcasted at that time. With this system it will be possible to obtain Outdoor Advertising Audience metrics broken down by each specific ad. 

Big Data in Outdoor Advertising audience measurement

As can be seen, the research of the Outdoor media in Spain has incorporated and is incorporating multiple improvements. And the fact is that fresh winds are blowing for Outdoor Advertising research around the world. In 2015 the United States (TAB) and Belgium (CICM) announced their intention to renew their Audience systems, to which is added the growing interest among several countries, which lack measurement systems, to provide the medium with metrics comparable to other media. In the last two years, competitions have been held in Romania, Brazil and Pakistan, and initiatives are underway in South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Chile, New Zealand,... 

The cause of this boiling is the "Big Data" that opens up new possibilities. Now data from surveys, diaries and panels, whether or not GPS-tracked, need not be the only source of knowledge about population movements. Big Data provides researchers with new sources of information that contribute to the efficiency of measurement and reduce the investment required. 

The future, not to say the present, of outdoor advertising measurement involves a hybrid model, a fusion of sources, just as has happened in Internet audience measurement. ESOMAR already anticipated this in its "Global Guidelines on Out-of-Home Measurement" where it states: "The large number of panels and their geographic dispersion should require a different approach to the measurement of other media (...) Therefore the measurement of Outdoor Audience in most countries relies on a combination of survey data and a mobility model to allow the Audience of all panels to be estimated with sufficient accuracy for the market to operate, while keeping the cost of measurement at an acceptable level".

When talking about location and Big Data, the obvious approach is to resort to information from mobile phone operators, which must be located within the radius of an antenna in order to work. The ubiquity of mobile phones makes them a very interesting source, although the accuracy of the location varies according to the radius of cell coverage, the results being conditioned by the density of antennas and the location system. The basic system is the Cell ID that offers an accuracy ranging from 100 meters to several tens of kilometers. A more sophisticated system is the TDOA (Time Difference Of Arrival), which estimates the differences between the reception times of the same signal to a set of antennas and improves the accuracy, in the worst case, up to a maximum of 5 kilometers. It is a very interesting source of data under development and it is hoped that in the future it will be able to make its contribution to the measurement of the environment.

It would be more accurate to have the A-GPS (Assisted-GPS) positions of smartphones, a technology specially designed to improve GPS (Global Position System) accuracy in urban environments, providing extra information from the antennas to the device if the GPS loses signal when entering the urban canyons and achieving a reduction of the first location times. It is interesting to note how a military technology, GPS has become a mainstream technology in our daily lives, with the generalization of smartphones, smartwatches and other wearables to come. The GPS system remains the property of the US Department of Defense, while the European civilian alternative GALILEO, which promised more precise locations, continues to accumulate delays and failed launches.

There is a lot of A-GPS information although scattered among applications, advertising networks, ad exchanges,... It is not surprising the emergence of business models based on the concentration and marketing of geopositioned locations.

A more practical way to know the traffic flow is to use GPS data collected by car navigation devices. These devices send information about their location and speed, always anonymously and with the user's consent, which, after being aggregated and processed, sends back to your customers updated information about traffic conditions, in order to propose alternative routes.

As an advantage to the location by mobile phone navigators offer location data with GPS precision on digital mapping and even data already aggregated traffic intensity and speed for each stretch of street in a city. As a disadvantage with respect to telephone location, they do not cover pedestrian data and have a smaller user base, although as a reference the Dutch company TOMTOM, receives data from 70 million navigation devices, including navigators integrated in cars, portable navigators and smartphones, which provide information of the order of 9,000 million GPS points per day. 

An innovative approach to understand traffic flows in a city is to analyse images of photographs taken by high-resolution satellites such as those held by DIGITALGLOBE, a private US company, with which CUENDE Infometrics has signed an exclusive partnership agreement for the exploitation of Audience metrics for the Outdoor environment. Its 7 satellites capture 2.5 million km2 per day with a resolution of up to 30 centimetres, which means that from their 600-500 km high orbits they are able to recognise an object with a surface area of 30 cm2. Access to images of this resolution for commercial applications has been vetoed by the US government until June 2014. 

On these high-resolution images, shape recognition systems are applied, assisted by "machine learning" that make it possible to automatically identify all vehicles circulating in a city at a specific time. To eliminate false positives, the system is linked to digital cartography in such a way that only recognizable shapes (vehicles) are located on the roads, discarding other areas. 

When talking about satellite images, it must be taken into account that high-resolution satellites have the capacity to capture information in several bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, from infrared to ultraviolet, which allows spectographic analysis by combining and superimposing layers of photographs in different spectra, making it possible to differentiate those vehicles that are in motion from parked vehicles. 

Naturally, a single image is not enough to establish the traffic pattern, but by accessing the historical images it is possible to identify and evaluate with certainty the busiest streets and provide an estimate of the average number of vehicles. The "Big Data" owned by DigitalGlobe reaches a hundred Petabytes (each Petabyte is equivalent to 1,048,576 Gigabytes), an amount that can only be measured by comparing it with the "Data-Center" of Yahoo Inc, which uses 2.5 petabytes to analyze the behavior of its 500 million monthly visitors.

This system is now operational. Pakistan Out-of-Home Audience Measurement, promoted by PAST (Pakistan Advertisers Society) provides since September 2015 metrics in the main cities of the country, including Karachi, the 7th most populated city in the world with an estimated population of 12.8 million people. Also the South African OMC (Out-of-Home Measurement Council) already has the first data generated from the analysis of satellite photographs and personal interviews, with the incorporation of data from browsers planned for 2016. Both measurement systems have been developed entirely from CUENDE Infometrics.

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