Mediabrands announces ‘first’ outdoor digital programmatic trading platform

Marc Lomas

Marc Lomas

Media agency group IPG Mediabrands is claiming an Australian first with the launch of a programmatic trading platform for outdoor digital advertising.

The move by the group, whose agencies include UM, Initiative and BPN, sees its programmatic buying division Cadreon partner with out-of-home businesses Brandscreen and Site Tour to launch real time buying of digital inventory across nearly 1,000 outdoor screens. Among the vendors to sign up to the platform at launch are Westfield, Adshel and Executive Channel.

“This is definitely an Australian first and possibly even a world first,” Marc Lomas, managing director of Cadreon Australia told Mumbrella. “We haven’t heard of anyone else throughout our network and speaking to various different vendors, even across Clear Channel in the US, no one seems to have cracked this nut.

“Especially to put it through a digital based demand side platform. So you can actually identify it along other inventory video, display and all of that.”

Last month Val Morgan announced it was implementing facial recognition technology on some of its outdoor assets, and providing programmatic trading to some of its customers to target people based on age and gender, amongst other facets.

As part of the move Brandscreen will be providing the real-time media trading technology while Site Tour, which claims to have Australia’s largest network of digital billboards, will be connecting their outdoor media buying platform to Cadreon’s systems.

“The idea with programmatic trading is that you can execute the buys down to individual panels and you are able to implement the creative almost instantaneously,” said Lomas.

“You have got the ultimate flexibility in the panels you are targeting, the buys you are executing and the ability to serve creative really fast and efficiently across those different vendors.”

Mediabrands said it expects to announce some of the clients who will use the service in the coming weeks.

Lomas added: “We’ve done the rounds and while we haven’t got any clients on board yet we have been discussing the philosophy and the changes. We have had some very positive conversations and are waiting to finalise the details in terms of panels etc. but we foresee in the next week or two to have some very big flagship clients coming on board.”

The move will help IPG Mediabrands in its goal of reaching 50 per cent programmatic buying by 2016.

IPG Mediabrands chief investment officer Victor Corones said: “This development will also allow the OOH sector to compete for new digital dollars that have previously not been accessible to traditional OOH. We are looking forward to seeing how numbers from the first project stack up against other channels.”

One of the biggest concerns about real time bidding from vendors is it may drive down the value of inventory. However, Lomas said their conversations have all been positive and that he was hopeful others would sign on in the coming months: “We have had some positive chats with some of the other well known (outdoor) brands too and they are all very interested.”

Michael Scruby founder of Site Tour said the deal was a major development for the company: “For me this is massively exciting. We are now at a point where we can open up this audience to advertisers.

“Where digital out-of-home dominates is in the bricks and mortar store right up to the checkout. Transaction in the volume in the store is ten times what it is in online (retail) so you can imagine the potential of this for advertisers in tapping that consumer dollar and targeting it effectively.

“What we bring to the table is the ability to take the principles of real time bidding and apply them not directly, but we are bringing those same principles to digital out of home.”

However, he also said the company is open to working with other agency groups as the deal is non-exclusive.

“Mediabrands are one of the agencies at the forefront of programmatic. It is exciting to deal with them but we not exclusive to them post the initial period and open to doing business with other people post this initial phase (June),” he said.

The Mediabrands deal raises some questions around the viability of the Outdoor Media Association’s (OMA) ability to connect to agency systems so that inventory recorded in the measurement system MOVE can go can be paid form immediately through a unique billing system.

In light of the Mediabrands move other agency groups are expected to follow their competitors down the programmatic out-of-home path.

Grant Guesdon the OMAs research manager told Mumbrella that there would no direct impact on the metric from today’s announcement.

“What we are doing is connecting up to billing systems so when they have finished doing their work in MOVE they can push it straight through,” said Gusdon.

“We don’t have access to the rates being charged or the avails that exist in the marketplace. We will have discussions with them on these (developments) but Mediabrands are not connected to the MOVE data.”

Lomas told Mumbrella that they were “platform agnostic” and that were the OMA to develop technology that could improve their buying they would consider it.

“This gives a different perspective and a different solution. We are all trying to automate the buying, to get the ability to target in increasingly granular segments,” said Lomas.

“We all understand the power of out of home advertising. The Mediabrands philosophy across all our programmatic buying channels is we are a technology agnostic vendor, we use all the different technologies in market, we optimise across them and we decide what’s best across each individual circumstance. We are definitely open to it.”

Nic Christensen 


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