Ooh Media’s Cathy O’Connor on tackling the challenge of digital measurement

Cathy O’Connor joined Ooh Media as its CEO in early 2021, moving across from a significant and successful stint as the chief of Nova Entertainment.

Joining the Mumbrellacast this week, O’Connor reflects on her time in the radio industry, and said her time in the hyper-competitive field of Aussie radio served her in good stead for moving into outdoor, but reveals that the collaborative nature of the sector has its own benefits.

“I’m a competitive person so I like competitive media. I liked working in radio and I can see that elements of out-of-home are also very competitive.

“[But] there is an enormous amount of collaboration between all of the out-of-home businesses. I talk to my peers in the other companies regularly and we frequently meet with the OMA (Outdoor Media Association) on measurement and the marketing of the industry.

“People said to me ‘oh it’s really competitive in out-of-home’, and I said ‘well radio is pretty competitive as well’. Competitiveness is something we love but I always make the point that… there’s a much greater win in working together to compete for the sector against other sectors.

“It’s probably five times as materially profitable to do that, [rather] than to try and rip share off each other.”

Ooh Media CEO Cathy O’Connor

One of the biggest challenges facing not just O’Connor and Ooh Media, but the OOH industry at large, is the lack of a unified measurement solution for digital out-of-home (DOOH) assets.

O’Connor said it’s a challenge she’s relishing, with Ooh’s bespoke mobility data to continue as a part of its business, even after MOVE 2.0 (and in the interim, MOVE 1.5) come into play.

“We’re evolving the industry currency MOVE which dates back some way and was developed before digital inventory had the presence that it does today. So the industry acknowledges there is some catching up to do,” she told Mumbrella.

“In the interim, each operator is using their own bespoke data sets to communicate about the way audiences are moving. In our case, we have mobility data from DSpark, and Quantium buyergraphic data exclusively.

“Over and above the industry currency, we will seek to differentiate our audiences. We will be moving to one apples for apples comparison in a very standardised way, and I think the industry is looking forward to that.”

Many brands that use outdoor have preconceptions of how and why it should be used, O’Connor said educating the sector about the possibilities of digital, as well as how DOOH can be used as part of a wider strategy, is vital, especially in the run-up to MOVE 2.0.

“I still see a place for bespoke data sets where we can educate that second layer of intelligence on top of the work we do with advertisers. In 2020, Ooh Media was able to run to that knowledge space for audiences,” O’Connor added.

A recent Ooh campaign for Flordis KeenMind

The in-your-face nature of a lot of OOH assets leads people to buy in ways that might not be the most effective, and O’Connor explains that it’s often easier to deliver results when clients allow Ooh Media to use its full suite of assets in a more holistic way.

“The sheer physicality of the assets means people come to you with preconceived views about how to use them. They might want ‘that site or that format’. [While] it’s one of the great things we have, being that out-of-home is everywhere in your local environments… it can also be a limiting thing in terms of getting the best potential about of buying the sector.”

That’s where Ooh Media’s audience-led approach can be more effective for brands.

“In our case, having the breadth of formats that we do, we are now starting to understand that when advertisers and buyers come to us and say ‘here’s the audience i’m trying to reach. Tell me how that audience interacts with all of your assets and don’t limit us in terms of format.

“[In those cases] we’re finding that we can achieve significantly better results for the same investment.”

Ultimately, OOH needs to work together as a sector to highlight its strengths, O’Connor said, and again it comes back to education.

“We believe that it’s important to continue to educate around our own assets and our own sector. Particularly when we feel that increasingly, with the fragmentation of media, that out of home is the established medium that has growing audiences.

“That’s a very important point that we need to make as a sector and as a company, to recommend a higher share of wallet for out-of-home. So the more intelligence we can bring to those conversations around robust datasets over and above the MOVE currency is going to be really important.”

Listen to the full chat below from 22:45:


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