Outdoor bosses slam OIS viewability claims

Outdoor advertising vendors have slammed claims from compliance company Outdoor Inspection Services which suggested up to 10% of the outdoor market was not delivering ads correctly.

Brendon Cook, CEO of Ooh Media, said the report was a “gross misrepresentation” of the situation at hand.


OIS claimed up to $90m of outdoor advertising was wasted on poor viewability

The Viewability Report, collated by OIS, also suggested the average ‘in view’ benchmark – which shows how many ads are actually visible – has fallen to 90% in the first half of 2018, down from 92% in 2017. OIS collects data from more than 500,00 compliance checks across vendors and advertisers.

“It is unfortunately based on data that is questionable; and by an organisation that has commercial gain from casting doubt on the industry posting performance,” Cook told Mumbrella.

“We have undertaken an audit on their reporting of campaigns we have run and can categorically demonstrate that their claimed issues were absolutely inaccurate.

“Of the 162 issues raised, 117 were actually errors by the inspector doing the compliance checks and not an issue with the campaign. In these cases, the people doing the audit were either looking at the wrong sign, turned up on the wrong date or wrong time or simply did not monitor the site for long enough to align with the loop structure at the site,” he said.

APN Outdoor chief executive officer and managing director, James Warburton, added it was “disappointing” for a report to make “general and unfounded statements”, arguing the data was a “conflicted pitch by the author”.

“APN Outdoor takes compliance extremely seriously and we fully endorse transparency, which is why we are part of Seedoh and why we have encouraged our industry to ensure transparency is a key priority,” Warburton said.

Warburton said the report was ‘disappointing’

“We work with all clients and their audit partners including OIS, with the aim to rectify any problems in the rare circumstance they occur and to provide the relevant make good within the campaign period.”

Like Warburton, Cook suggested the platform Seedooh is most effective, as it provides “independent and audited reporting at no additional cost to the client”.

Seedoh is paid for by the outdoor vendors, and provides verification of ‘posting’ or ‘plays’ to an operator. By comparison, the OIS service is paid for by agencies and advertisers.

“At Ooh we continually explore how we can best report back to our advertisers on our posting performance against the agreement and why we made the decision to appoint Seedooh to provide independent and audited reporting at no additional cost to the client,” Cook said.

“The Seedooh reporting supplements what the business has been doing for many years to ensure the integrity of our offering for clients.”

He added Ooh Media has a team of 12 who run a Network Operations Centre (NOC) which monitors digital assets, a technical assistance and escalation service for technological issues, timestamped proof of classic sign posting upon installation, a QA officer and asset team who inspect classic signage and a maintenance schedule to ensure assets are regularly serviced.

“We recognise that signage can become obstructed by objects in any given time due to natural objects such as trees growing, or from new built environments,” Cook added.

Cook: “Our physical nature makes out of home a very transparent medium”

“As with all other media, occasionally there are some issues with out of home campaigns, with adverts not appearing as scheduled.  Our own audits of our performance shows that these issues are less than 1% of all activity, which is not good enough, and something we continue to seek to improve upon,” he said.

Cook said clients who want to understand viewability can go and view inventory themselves: “Our physical nature makes out of home a very transparent medium.”

Chris Tyquin, CEO of Brisbane-based outdoor company Goa, said he was unable to comment until he saw the exact breakdown of OIS data and cross checked it internally. But when asked about how he defined a viewable outdoor ad, he said: “Ideally a billboard that is seen in its entirety, i.e not partially obscured, from a point that the message can be read (say 100 metres ) up until you have driven past.

“Any viewing obstructions should be noted in proposals and site cards so that clients know what they are getting before their agency commits them,” he added.

Tyquin said each of any viewing obstructions should be noted in proposal and site cards for clients

Tyquin said his business has always been transparent when issues such as faulty or broken screens arise.

“Each one of our screens has a web cam that is monitored continually. In addition we have made these web cam feeds available online for clients, agencies and auditors to check on at anytime. Additionally each screen has monitoring hardware that sends a text notification if a screen is using less power than it should otherwise be using that would indicate a partial or total screen breakdown. We also make available post broadcast data reports for clients, agencies and audit services,” he said.

And when issues do arise, Goa’s in-house technical team will aim to fix the issue within an hour or two. But he’s not sure whether overall, the industry has made progress in viewability.

“With the recent consolidation of the industry and talk of programmatic selling where it becomes a game of mass involving hundreds of faces or screens across Australia then the obvious risk for planner buyers is they are buying sight unseen. I’ve always offered to fly agency buyers to Brisbane before they buy to show them why what we offer is so special and that we’ve got nothing to hide,” he said.

Cook said while the industry had a way to go, it had never had an “online digital viewability fraud issue”.

The Outdoor Media Association’s CEO, Charmaine Moldrich, said the industry body was unsure of the accuracy of the data report, adding they had no information as to “validity” of the methodology.

Moldrich said it was hard to make informed comment on the story’s claims

“However in general, we wonder if the analysis is accurate or could it be a case of promoting a solution to a problem that by and large doesn’t exist? Also, as this has come from a commercial service provider who hasn’t discussed any of this with the OMA, it is hard to make an informed comment on the story’s claims,” she said.

Justin Singh, CEO of OIS, disputed the outdoor operators’ comments, arguing if every campaign was being delivered in-view with zero problems, Australian advertisers wouldn’t support his service.

“More importantly, if advertisers do not engage OIS, how do they know, independent of media owner information, that a campaign has been delivered correctly?” he said.

“Reporting is only as good as the data we receive from media owners: As our agency clients would be familiar with, most media owners work directly with OIS, providing the information we require to complete reports in a timely and accurate manner.

“Unfortunately a media owner may not have, or may choose not to ‘share’ the data we need – such as accurate and detailed descriptions of site location, identification number and the likes. In these instances we do our utmost to locate the correct sites and the agencies understand the challenges faced when this is the case,” he said.

“I’d challenge media owners to be more collaborative and consultative in their approach to working with OIS so collectively we can drive further standardisation and a better service that tracks the viewability of advertisers campaigns.

“OIS has no agenda or conflicts, we aren’t funded by media owners, and we are the only verification company that physically enables Australia’s largest advertisers to report if their campaigns are appearing in view by creating their own reporting data.


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