This content relates to : DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
CEO, Project X Media
We started ADstruc really to automate the workflow behind how people bought and sold outdoor advertising. What do I mean by that? I mean, really stepping back and looking at the way e-mails I’ve sent, the way information is shared, the way photos are shared, the way descriptions are shared, the way pricing and the way negotiations happen, and the way the printing of a billboard happens. There’s a 100 steps that go behind the planning and buying of an outdoor campaign. Those steps, historically, have been wildly inefficient in the way two people are sharing information back and forth. And so our focus was on. understanding the day-to-day of how this industry work. We spent hundreds of phone calls talking with media owners about their day, asking them what they did on a daily basis. What was the first thing they did when they got to the computer? What was the last thing they did when they left the computer? How did they send e-mails? The majority of their time spent on emails or phone calls? How did they put together Excel spreadsheets? You saw this incredible break down of data and files and sharing and this ultimately a tremendous amount of errors that happened as a result of this manual process, that we said, “Listen, if we put all this information in one place, you can start to do a lot more.” And so it stemmed from intimately understanding the day-to-day operations of how the people that worked in this space worked everyday. And when we’re able to do that, the mapping if you will, of that workflow was pretty easy to do on a whiteboard. We really started to understand the flow of information, how technology needed to be built in order to support it, augment it, replace it, right, there are multiple areas where we’re able to reduce the amount of time that’s spent to put something together.
Simple tools and innovation like how do you digitize a PowerPoint presentation? When people are sending outdoor advertising campaigns and you want to buy a national media campaign, it might be 300 slides of a PowerPoint deck showing you all the media that you’re going to buy. But some individual will have to put a photo and each one of those pages, had to write a description into each one of those pages, organize all of them. Our technology and what software can do today automates 300 page PowerPoint decks at a matter of one to two minutes, that you don’t have to have people building these things anymore and that’s the beauty and the ugliness of the conversion of service and technology. And you had sort of two digitizations of outdoor advertising happening right now. You have the transformation that we did on the workflow side and automating the planning and buying of this media and you have the digitization of the actual media formats themselves. You have a tremendous influx of digital screens coming into the space, not just a traditional sort of static board with a vinyl stretched over it. You now have digital billboards and you have screens in doctor’s offices and screens in gas stations and screens on the subway and screens in the back of a taxi cab and screens in the airport. These are all connected through a really archaic software system that if you rewind 20 years ago, somebody was going to that screen every morning or every week with a little File Share Drive that they would put in there, little thumb drive, and that would be running the schedule of the advertisements for the week ahead. When you think about that, and you now think about the ability to change that information in real time, to change the campaigns in real time, to buy those campaigns in real time based on a bunch of datasets, you now start to understand what the automation, where the automation has to ultimately happen and that’s really in the back end in order for the front end, again back to that customer experience to really be changed and to have a different layer of value.
So, the beauty of taking a static billboard into a digital is that a static billboard would have one advertiser for four weeks, which is a typical sort of length through a campaign. Now fast-forward and you can have 20 advertisers every day, multiple minutes a day running and, well that is incredibly exciting. There’s a tremendous amount of technology and software that has to go behind that in order to support the changing of advertisers and the slots and the sale process behind all of it. And so you can’t digitize the assets unless you digitize the workflow. And that’s a really, really important sort of maturity step for the outdoor advertising industry to recognize that it needs to improve the way the media is bought and sold and managed in order to take advantage of the speed at which digital screens and the transformation is happening in the real world. And I think, ultimately when you step back and look at the role that technology plays in the outdoor advertising space, It’s supporting both. It’s making sure that the industry is staying up to speed with the influx of digital screens and mobile and the information that’s happening around that, while also making sure that the industry is able to support the screens and the selling of those screens because again, you had a salesperson that needed to sell that billboard to one advertiser for four weeks. Now that salesperson could sell that billboard to 20 people a day. They need to increase their pipeline, they need to increase their outreach, there’s a tremendous amount of things that flow from that. When you then layer in what’s happening in the mobile world, what’s happening with our mobile phones and location data and the fascinating insights and sometimes scary insights that we are able to understand based off of your mobile phone usage.
We’re now getting smarter about who we should be selling those advertisements to and when we should be selling those advertisements to. And that is an incredibly exciting development or the industry, but it’s also a monumental task because those data points are in the trillions on a daily basis. And so we need to have software in order to actually be able to make sense of that. You can’t have a bunch of people sitting in a room figuring out those data points, you need to have software to understand it, and be able to turn it around in order to make value and that value is us being able to go to the advertiser and say, “We know where your consumer is. We know what they’re thinking about and looking for. We know what they’re searching for on their mobile phones and we should be advertising this kind of message at this time of day in order to capture them” And that is the future of the outdoor space, is how outdoor advertising uses software to be smarter and better and faster about how it operates itself, but also how it works in tandem with other media channels and the digitization of those channels in order to be able to merge the experience of advertising to again, add more value to the customer while also returning more insights and an attribution to the advertiser itself.
CEO, Project X Media