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There's a hole in your video plan

There's a hole in your video plan Jeremy Ozen
About a month ago, a video from The Tonight Show went viral on social networks.  It featured a couple at a gas station who were surprised that the anchor of “Pumpcast News,” broadcast from a screen installed over the pump, was not only speaking to them directly, but in fact encouraging them to entertain him.  While the video may have been faked, the 80s-music-loving couple still made everyone smile.

The video did something else, too: It exposed a wide swath of consumers to an increasingly common location-based video advertising channel: pump-top televisions placed strategically at or near eye level to capture the attention of a captive audience that, for the five minutes or so that it takes to pump gas, has nothing else to look at.

Digital advertising like this is becoming more commonplace every day.  Digital screens on commuter trains tell riders about shops and restaurants along the rail line.  In the back seat of a taxi, the day’s headlines run on a ticker at the bottom of a TV that offers previews for next season’s TV lineup.  In office buildings, strategically placed screens update us on the weather, sports scores, and relevant business news.  We are so attuned to screens thanks to our televisions, computers, smartphones, and tablets, that we are naturally drawn to these digital displays.  In fact at first, we might not even realize that we’re being marketed to.  If anything, location-based video has become an information source, just like all other marketing platforms.  From an advertiser’s perspective, it’s a valuable and uniquely placed medium because it enables TV-style engagement using sight, sound and motion, but it reaches consumers who are not at home.

The Video Gap

Supporters of TV advertising tout the four hours of TV consumption on a daily basis.  Average numbers are misleading, but let’s leave that for another day.  Here’s the real question: how many hours per day do we spend in cabs, airports, gyms, malls, doctor offices, gas stations, nail salons, bars and office buildings?  Day after day, these are the places we live our lives.

Reaching consumers on-the-go reflects the value of location-based video—it is an awareness driver where broadcast TV and online video can’t reach.  If we reflect on our own lives, we’ll see this is true.  Waking up we probably check our phone and get our day started.  I personally take a cab to the gym before heading to the office—seeing three screens before booting up my computer.  Depending on the day, we are at clients’ offices, traveling, or on calls.  Such is life.  However, what’s interesting is that over the workday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., location-based video screens are the only TV screens many of us will see.

A Cohesive Cross-Platform Video Strategy

Most video strategies center around TV—fair enough as this branding palette is tried and true.  That being said, marketers and agencies we speak to almost universally accept that their video strategies need to be cross-platform.

However, this tends to be difficult—not necessarily from an execution standpoint—but from a measurement and effectiveness point of view.  With the advent of Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings, online video is getting a seat at the video-neutral table.  What people don’t realize is that most location-based video has the same Nielsen backed audience currency.  This is important. It’s considered the same asset, so it’s subject to the same measurement.  With the Nielsen video currency of TV and online video, location-based video is a completely viable channel.  A cohesive cross-platform video strategy can’t ignore consumers just because they left their couches or desks.

The Value of Location—Where You Should Be

Premium video is scarce.  And with audiences fragmenting on TV and online, it’s increasingly difficult to affordably reach the mass consumer public.  In the world we now live in, location-based video fills a gap between the living room and the office, and is key for the following reasons:

-          The audience is consistent. We will always spend time at the gym, shopping at the mall, and commuting to work.  These are behaviors that will never change.

-          The audience is growing. Thanks to smart phones, consumers are unchained from their desks.  This means more time is spent on the go, potentially in front of location-based screens.

-          The audience is captive. Your average consumer is so used to screens now, in fact, that it’s easy for them to tune out advertising.  We already know about DVRs and banner blindness.  But location-based video viewers have less control, and therefore have no choice but to pay attention to your message.

-          The audience is near your products or stores. If you are a QSR advertiser, for example, how much closer can you get to the point of purchase than people leaving their office buildings at lunchtime?

Jump Right In

Until location-based video emerged, marketers had limited options for premium video placements reaching high value consumers.  You’ve got primetime TV from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. during the week and cinema on Friday and Saturday evenings.  But what about those workdays?

Reaching consumers in a measurable way as they do real things in the real world sounds like a challenge, but that is exactly the value location-based video brings to the table.  Without scale, it was easy to ignore these screens on an individual basis.  But marketers now have the ability to target consumers with video at a time they were previously inaccessible.  If you want to be comprehensive with your video plan, it’s important to make consumers away from home, where they spend the majority of their time, a top priority.  As with any advertising campaign, start with deciding whom you want to reach, and then consider where they’re most likely to be receptive to your content.  If you follow this logic, your success is almost guaranteed, irrespective of the screen.  Just remember, location-based video should be one of them.

As co-founder and president of Vistar Media, Jeremy Ozen is responsible for strategy, business development, marketing, and key strategic accounts. Ozen was previously at Goldman Sachs European Special Situations Group in London monitoring a...

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