Growing expectations for accurate audience measurement
Measuring up to global industry standards
Other than TV, OOH is the only medium to have established globally accepted standards for audience measurement. These standards have been sponsored by the global research organisation ESOMAR and endorsed by all major industry stakeholders* such as Wold Federation of Advertisers (WFA), The European Association of Communications Agencies (EACA) and the 4As. The OOH guidelines have set common ground for both international and local best practice and research standards.
Real contact vs potential contact
Unlike most other media, which provide measurement based on viewable impressions, the best OOH audience measurement programs deliver actual viewed impressions. In a world where most media deliver measurement based only on potential contact, OOH figures give the number of people who saw your ad (VAC) rather than the number of who could have seen it (OTC).
Pioneering Big DataOOH pioneered the use of Big Data over twenty years ago, before it came on the radar of mainstream advertising conversations. Since the 1990s, the industry has been using a system that integrated large data sets with dedicated surveys and a refined definition of ‘contact’ at an individual panel level to deliver a precise viewership for campaigns.
How does OOH measure its audiences?You can think of OOH audience measurement as being built on four main independent blocks of data, each overlaid and integrated with the other creating Big Data. Let’s look at each of these four building blocks.
Identifying patterns: The Travel SurveyTo identify audiences, we must first understand where, when and how people move around the city. In OOH measurement systems around the world, a detailed travel survey based on a representative population is conducted to identify detailed patterns of consumer mobility.
These surveys can be memory based but in most cases, they involve passive sensing and recording of the participants’ movements via a smartphone or a custom device that measures GPS and Wi-Fi signals. These devices can even incorporate accelerometers, barometers and compasses to establish everything from the mode of transport and the routes a person takes, right down to the granularity of the floor of buildings he or she visits.
Identifying Traffic: Vehicular DataTo comprehensively measure traffic going past the panels, OOH audience measurement systems integrate the results from the consumer Travel Surveys with big data sets of traffic flows around the city.
This data includes information on every mode of traffic and come from a variety of sources including official government traffic counts, transport authorities, GPS, real time sensors on panels, video counting techniques and even satellite spectrum imaging.
Identifying Ads: Panel Classification and MappingNot all panels are physically the same, therefore their visibility must be weighted differently within the audience measurement system.
When the full catalogue of advertising panels is imported into the system, every panel is classified by its physical characteristics such as size, height from the ground, angle to the road and illumination. Each panel is then geolocated and placed accordingly on the same map used by the traffic data sets . The resulting clasification establishes which of the pedestrian and vehicular traffic will result in potential views for that panel.
Analysing Views: Visibility Adjusted Contacts (VAC’s)Once we have the potential audience numbers for a panel, how can you be sure that people have seen it?
Advanced OOH measurement systems incorporate algorithms built around extensive eye movement research based on established psychological techniques on how people view and respond to the world around them. By analysing all classification factors for panels and audience behaviour in this way, these measurement systems can convert the number of viewable impressions (OTCs) into actual viewed impressions (VACs). It is the application of VACs that makes the accuracy of OOH audience measurement unparalleled within the media measurement landscape.
Global Guidelines on Out-of-Home Audience Measurement
ESOMAR: Global data, research and insights
WFA: World Federation of Advertisers
EACA: European Association of Communications Agencies
4As: the national trade association to represent U.S. advertising agencies
Postar Visibility Research: An integrative eye-tracking study of visibility hit rates
for poster panels in UK environments