Independent verification partner for DOOH says, ‘44% of gross plays are off plan’

Thorndkye, the independent verification partner for all DOOH campaigns has just released its first DOOH State of the Nation – Verification report for Q1 2022.

Thorndyke verification measures hundreds of millions of impressions a month across the market. The report pulled together insights from the ANZ market through its verification services and offers an industry perspective across the sector in this region.

The report, which is the first media quality report for digital out-of-home from the Australian market, showed that 16% of campaigns are over delivered.

“What we’re doing is actually looking at the performance of the ad created running at the time at point of play,” Thorndyke’s managing director, Jason Cooper told Mumbrella. “Taking a verification approach, we actually run our own tags in the players themselves. So, we make this independent determination about how long it was on screen for, was it on the right screen, the right time of day. So, we’re getting back to measures that are more soft metrics rather than hard metrics. Was it played on the wrong screen, yes or no? You got eight seconds of exposure time.”

He added: “We work closely with the agencies and the advertisers, they provide us a media plan of how the campaign is going to go down, from the time frame of the campaign running, and on what screens it’ll be running on, the location with the targeting, and we know how exactly it’ll unfold, and how many impressions they can expect from each of the panels. 

“We then distribute our tags along with the creative, and when they play on the screen, our tags then say is it playing on the right screen, what is the time stamp, how long was it on screen for in seconds, and they pass on that data to us and that’s how we can track if everything is tracking as it should be, or if there is a delta.”

The report also showed that 44% of gross plays are off plan (outside planned day, time, location, screen etc.), 58% of off plan plays are outside of illumination hours, and 28% of off plan plays are on panels that were not booked.

Cooper said: “If we look at impressions, and you’ve got, for example, I booked 100 impressions and then at the end of the week I am left with 206 impressions from a panel playing in a shopping mall, and I’m getting over double what I booked, a lot of them are off plan, which means they could of played at 2am in the morning, but no one was actually in the shopping mall, so you don’t want to count them.”

He added: “You really don’t want to include them, especially if you’re paying for it, you don’t really want to be paying for that. But, it does depend on how it’s booked, but ideally it should be excluded from the end result, as it wasn’t a part of the plan.

“So, if you take the 44% of the 206 impressions, you’re left with 116 impressions, so, there’s till a slight  over delivery, which is great for the advertiser, but what we’re really saying is if you are seeing these big numbers, to make sure that you’re able to dive into that and sift out what is legitimate, not counting the off plan impressions.”

Another unique aspect of DOOH is player connectivity. Screens are connected via ethernet or mobile/cellular connected, especially in outdoor areas where fixed line may not be available.

“Periodically, these panels will lose an internet connection, but they still have power, and they’ll still play, so, if you’re looking at the screen, you can still see images scrolling through, but what’s happening is that it’s offline temporarily,” Cooper explained. “What we have to do is continue to collect data, the play data locally on that panel and when it reconnects we have to push that data back to the system.”

He noted: “It’s something that not many people know about but it’s interesting, especially if you’re someone that’s working with time-based campaigns, you assume you’re going to be able to control and turn that off, and if you can’t reach the panel then there’s going to be a delay in getting that data.”

Thorndyke predicts that DOOH will be one of the next major growth opportunities as programmatic and third-party measurement becomes standard.

According to the company, Australia currently leads the way with advanced buyers who already verify digital and online activity and want to expand that to DOOH.

This coupled with media owners who are embracing verification and see it as a way to continue to build trust and transparency in the medium.

“There has never been an independent measurement of out-of-home,” said Cooper. “The industry has gone from having these static banners which were literally glued to a wall to the digitisation of that, and having multiple rotations per minute.”

He continued: “But, the infrastructure to support third-party tags, and the idea of third-party tags is still relatively new. No one’s really been able to drop a tag in there and make a measurement independently until the last 24 months, which is what we’re doing.

“It’s really about keeping the media owners accountable, how do we track performance. It’s an exciting time for the OOH industry. Even though we are an auditor of sorts, I’m really positive about the medium and I think programmatic is pushing digitisation of the medium as well.”

Overall, Cooper said the outlook is positive and early moves of the market in Australia are already getting the attention of other markets including the UK and the US.


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