Amber: Hi I’m Amber Ambrose and this is BusinessMakers USA brought to you by Insperity, inspiring business performance. Today my guest is Ken Sahlin of DOmedia, welcome to the show.
Ken: Good Afternoon Amber, thanks for having me.
Amber: I should also mention we’re here in Columbus, Ohio.
Ken: Beautiful, the metropolis of the world for the media industry, absolutely.
Amber: That’s right, so tell me about DOmedia.
Ken: DOmedia was founded back in 2007. We actually launched our Cloud-based platform in 2008 and we really were a technology company that services the advertising media business. Media has really come a long way, it’s very difficult – advertisers are finding it increasingly difficult to reach their target audiences and we actually focus in what is called the Out-Of-Home segment of the industry. So lots of people think billboards and whatnot, but actually it’s a very old industry, it dates back to the 1800s; the circuses used to put posters out and there used to be horse-drawn advertisements on carriages actually. So the industry is very old but really over the past decade or two innovations have abound. It’s not just billboards, there are large wallscapes on the sides of huge buildings, there’s ads on buses, transit shelters. You see them in the waiting rooms at doctor’s offices.
Amber: So you gave us a picture of what Out-Of-Home advertising is, but you don’t actually own any advertising platforms. You own a technology platform.
Ken: That is correct.
Amber: So help me learn the difference between that world and your world.
Ken: Well one of the challenges that faces advertiser is there’s so many choices out there and in the world of Out-Of-Home, with all the innovation, with all the choices out there, it’s extremely difficult to plan and buy. We work with some of the biggest agencies in the country – and in the world quite honestly – and then we’re also starting to launch products for the very small advertisers. And at the end of the day it’s really solving the problem of finding a media – some type of billboard, poster or moving ad for instance – that reaches your target audience. So we build software that helps people find it, evaluate it, put it on a map so they can see where it is, and then actually contract it and buy it.
Amber: Wow. So let’s get into that one part of something you just said a little bit earlier about bringing it to the smaller people – that you’re not inside a big agency, you don’t have a media buyer, you’re not at 10 years of experience buying media – that’s something new for you guys right?
Ken: Absolutely. It’s a brand new product. The site is actually Billboardsin.com and it is an avenue basically for any advertiser. Mostly small and medium advertisers who don’t have an agency as you said and quite honestly might not have time. We like to say you can buy Facebook advertising at 2am in your pajamas and we’d like to bring that to the offline media and again, specifically in the world of Out-Of-Home. So years ago that pizza shop operator might have been run by a gentleman who today has now passed that business to his daughter. And his daughter is very busy, she’s very computer savvy, she wants to go online; she wants to see what’s out there, she wants to quickly evaluate the options that are out there and she’d like to very efficiently evaluate those things and then quite honestly move to buy media. Our newest product actually kind of democratizes the process of finding Out-Of-Home media and then buying it.
Amber: Sure. And so how do you get that data together to figure out what the perfect billboard or the perfect medium for your advertisers is to marry with the properties?
Ken: Well we do have the largest source of supply so to speak in the Out-Of-Home industry. So well over 1,000 different media companies come to our site, it’s free for them to post who they are, where they are and what they do including pictures of their media on our website and they provide a great deal of data. We also have data partners that provide more sophisticated levels of information that some of our more sophisticated users use. One of the new technologies is today there are ways to kind of measure attribution. So after a campaign ran, really with a lot of the information is available through connected cars and obviously your cell phone, anonymously some of this data is available to media companies and platforms like ours. It just helps advertisers deliver more contextually relevant information at the right time to the right person. Lots of people hate advertising quite honestly but billboards have been around for a long time; they’re really huge, done well the creative impact is outstanding. So lots of people think that it’s ubiquitous, it surrounds you; it’s not something that’s assaulting you on your TV or on your mobile phone through a lot of the popup ads so it’s extremely successful. It’s really going through a renaissance. The Out-Of-Home industry has been growing, besides digital it’s really the only growing media out there, growing second most to digital quite honestly.
Amber: What are some of the most exciting things happening in the industry right now?
Ken: Again, some of the bigger markets bigger is still better; you go to Time Square – I’m there very frequently quite honestly, there’s nothing like it. We talked about how mobile cell phones can combine with Out-Of-Home advertising. The technology is there to really retarget you – I know it sounds a little spooky – but when you’re in the vicinity of an advertisement, if you’re opted into certain applications, that you can actually be served an ad. But the whole idea is to reach you where you’re in a location where the service being offered by the advertiser is something that you might want. It might be in the vivacity where you’re at, it might be alerting you to a deal at Starbucks where you can go in and save a dollar on your cappuccino.
Amber: It’s more targeted than it seems.
Ken: It can be very targeted and also very mass at the same point and time. I think that’s another part of the renaissance it’s going to is it really is a mass media. Today there’s so many, even websites – you’ll go online and there’s just so many websites, clearly on TV there’s so many different TV channels, not to mention the over-the-top options that a lot of people are unplugging their TVs for.
Amber: Sure. So you mentioned Time Square, there’s obviously a lot of digital things going on there, is there a trend in the world outside of New York for digital billboards?
Ken: Oh absolutely. It you’re in Time Square you can probably get a suntan by all of the digital screens there.
Amber: Wear your sunglasses.
Ken: But a lot of the operators are converting their static signs over to digital, they do a lot of things. First of all they can provide much richer content, it looks better; as I mentioned before, very impactful advertising. Secondly it allows more targeted advertising. You can do day parting; you can put a different message up in the morning for the morning drive for coffee versus the noontime quick lunch versus what you might be doing in the evening. The other thing that the operators have done is they’ve created a lot of value for the communities in which they’ve put these digital boards. There’s been a lot of very positive results around Amber Alerts, fugitives that are wanted; there’s been many fugitives caught because of Public Service Announcements so it’s been very popular. They’ve been growing absolutely, not just the big billboards again, but as we discussed some of the digital screens in airports, gyms, QSRs – quick serve restaurants, etcetera.
Amber: So Ken you mentioned how mobile technology is being combined with the Out-Of-Home advertising to really get more bang for your buck, I would love to know more.
Ken: Absolutely. Lots of people obviously go online to see digital advertising ads and lots of advertisers spend a lot of money on digital ads but the one thing that Facebook can’t do is really kind of track you through your day, or be with you through your day. And yeah, a lot of people look at Facebook or update their Facebook pages throughout the day, but actually the Out-Of-Home industry has identified that when people see Out-Of-Home advertising it drives a lot of online search. So when you think about it, I’m out of the home, I’m seeing a billboard but I’m also looking at another screen in my hand, so in some ways that’s an extension of Out-Of-Home advertising. And again today with that personal device in your hand, I see a message that’s very relevant to me, I can go right to my cell phone, I can go right to a website, I can access an offer; I can order something directly online based upon something that I saw on a billboard. So advertisers are capitalizing on that convergence.
Amber: But how do they connect ultimately?
Ken: Again, anonymously advertisers can purchase data around mobile data. So when somebody is in the vicinity of seeing a billboard ad for instance and then the GPS on the cell phone goes somewhere the advertiser can to a degree at a very high level, certainly not on a personal level, see where traffic is going as a result of their ad. So that actually provides them a way to measure the effectiveness of what they’re doing. I see a billboard and then I go someplace. Obviously that’s what an advertiser is trying to accomplish.
Amber: Absolutely. What’s next for DOmedia?
Ken: Onward and upward. Really I think internationally we want to go there and our vision right now is to build the first, true marketplace for Out-Of-Home. We’ve started to build that as I mentioned earlier for the local marketplace with Billboardsin, but we’re really looking to build that exchange for the entire industry, including all the big guys as well, and beyond that you’ve got international. Out-Of-Home is a global industry, so it’s much larger obviously to look to some of the international opportunities so we look forward to that as well.
Amber: Ken thank you for joining us.
Ken: Amber thank you for having us.
Amber: Yes. Once again this is BusinessMakers USA in Columbus, Ohio with my guest Ken Sahlin, I’m Amber Ambrose.
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