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How transparency and accountability helped Seedooh get outdoor vendors on board

It's hard to believe that 20 years ago the out-of-home advertising industry was at a standstill, with close to no digital screens or audience measurement metrics. But as companies evolve and digital becomes more prevalent, questions are often asked. How much does it cost compared to static? What are the quality of these screens like? And as the digital outdoor advertising space continues to soar, measurement becomes a necessity. Zoe Samios looks at one of the potential solutions.

Despite it often being cited as the media owner success story of recent times, there are many questions around outdoor advertising: How effective are these sites? Are advertisers getting the share of voice they pay for? Are there screen faults? Are the screens even there? Is the campaign being delivered accurately at all sites?

Outdoor advertising operators have now partnered with the service, which seeks to promote transparency and accountability

Last year, outdoor advertising service, Seedooh, emerged in market with founding partner Ooh Media. The company, started by two Melbourne-based industry experts, was hoping to tackle some of the industry’s biggest issues: transparency and accountability.

At that point the outdoor industry did have the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) certified measurement system, Measurement of Visibility and Exposure (MOVE). However what it measured was accuracy reach and frequency – it was looking at the way audience interacted with outdoor devices, as opposed to guaranteeing campaigns had been served.

Tom Richter, founder and CEO of Seedooh, wanted to create a solution that would be able to verify campaigns, through 100% visibility of each outdoor device. The company, which is independent of both agencies and sellers, connects data systems to report and verify what has been booked versus what has been delivered.

Richter says alignment with PwC was crucial

And although it took almost four years to develop the product, Seedooh has signed with other outdoor players, including APN Outdoor, JC Decaux, Adshel, Outdoor Digital Network Advertising, and is now a working platform that receives feedback in real time.

Joe Copley, director of partnerships at Seedooh, is surprised by how quickly the industry has changed as a result of the product.

 “To get from where the industry was 12 months ago to where we are now, with consensus from most of the sales side and a large part of the buy side, creating the ability to see full campaign delivery data all in one place has meant a tremendous amount of change predominantly on the sales side, and helping the industry come to terms with that change, but also to implement that change has been a really interesting and challenging journey,” Copley says.

Independent measurement solutions are crucial in any medium,and full campaign accountability and transparency is needed. To ensure reliability, the duo aligned with PwC.

Richter says that alignment was crucial, given there haven’t been any global standards in non-financial data assurance for the outdoor industry.

“While that is common in other industries, we are working with PwC to build out a process for assuring controls within out-of-home businesses to an international standard,” he says.

Overall, Richter and Copley say the feedback so far has been tremendous, but they have faced a number of challenges.

Copley says he’s receive a lot of feedback on efficiency.

“Efficiency and confidence is the feedback that we are getting. We are also getting a lot of useful feedback in terms of improving the visualisation of the data and the reports. The platform is in continual development and will always be continual development,” he says.

Copley says the Seedooh design allows reporting of ‘any conceivable booking parameters’

But Richter explains education around how campaign processes have been put together, and getting all owners and campaigns onto the platform has been slower than expected.

“It takes a little bit of time to understand the process of how media owners put together a campaign to report it and it takes a little bit of time to relay that story on in the context of Seedooh to agencies and the other stakeholders,” he says.

“By its nature, on the sell side, there is limited consolidation in terms of systems and processes. We made a decision early on that the best response to having an effective industry-wide supporting solution was to connect with everyone, and within those environments connect with 100% of the campaign delivery data. That is obviously going to be a complex process because every business is slightly different, there’s multiple content management platforms.

“There’s different formats and business rules and all types of issues that relate to standardisation, so we were ambitious to think that could’ve been done a little faster but equally it is from our perspective the only way to build an effective industry-wide solution. “

But he says that time has been critical in establishing the right product for the market.

One of the platform’s capabilities, according to Richter, is its ability to measure share of voice and ensure that clients are getting what they’ve paid for. Mumbrella understands in the past, a number of media outlets did not deliver on guaranteed share of voice for clients. And while some smaller entities have webcams on their screens to provide transparency to clients, others have not, creating a demand for a service like this in market.

“We are reporting those metrics now and validating that data now. They are pretty critical tools in obviously reporting a contract versus delivery of that contract. Seedooh will report what was booked and what was delivered against any conceivable parameters,” Richter explains.

And that is essential, according to Copley, who points to the future of booking parameters. With the trading and booking parameters changing, based on data and technology, having the ability to measure each screen is crucial.

“It’s always been at the very heart of the Seedooh design and architecture to be able to report against any conceivable booking parameters in out of home,” Copley says.

Richter adds: “With a platform like Seedooh, you’ve got visibility of over 100% of that slot or that loop. From a server or a platform side, really the only effective way to determine and validate delivery is to have 100% visibility over what’s happening on that content media player level.”

But the future for this platform doesn’t end on Australian shores. Richter and Copley – who have also employed Kenta Shimizu locally – are looking to expand the business beyond Australian borders and work with the outdoor industry globally.

“We are definitely interested in scaling overseas,” Copley says. “We still have a lot of work to do in Australia but we are making really interesting and positive connections in a bunch of other developed markets. We are refining the shortlist in terms of expansion. There’s some really interesting opportunities.”

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