A Buyer's Journey in Out-of-Home Advertising

Sep 27, 2017 5:43:54 PM

“Unlike other mediums, Out-of-home has seen growth every single year. I’ve always been able to pay the bills very well and it’s a medium that works! It’s always going to be around till the end of time or till we figure out how to teleport from one location to the other, we will have OOH advertising.”  - Kristy Vivian, VP of Business at Billups


I recently had the honor to interview an OOH influencer with nearly 25 years of experience, Kristy Vivian, VP of Business at Billups. Out-of-home was something she fell into. She was attending the University of Texas, getting a Master’s in Advertising, when she found a position in Austin Outdoor Advertising – and never looked back. That was her first toe dip in the industry. She has a Radio/Television/Film Degree from Sam Houston State but she was always fascinated by how fun and creative advertising can be. She’s been in the industry ever since, and still believes it’s the best career choice she could have ever made. 

Measurence: So I just read the article from Billboard Insider, “8 Questions to ask before you film Billboards with a Drone.” What do you see happening with that trend?

Kristy: My husband started a commercial drone business called Drone It Texas and he enjoys filming billboards.  I, on the other hand, am excited about the possibilities it brings to our industry.   Drones used in outdoor advertising have not become a “big thing” yet but there is a huge opportunity for it.  A brand might want to amp up the social media currency of the campaign by adding drone video footage which will extend the reach and bring an element of fun to the campaign.   Also, if a billboard company hires a commercial drone pilot to film a portion of their plant, the completed video gives a much better idea of the area that the billboard is in which gives the sales team something really interesting to put in front of a prospect.  The possibilities are endless.

Measurence: How do you make your decision to buy space from one billboard vs. another? From a buyer’s perspective, what’s important to you?

Kristy: There are a lot of variables when making a decision – in the case of one billboard over another, make sure all players are represented  - don’t just go the easy way. Dive deep and look at all players in the space including the independents. But before you even look at locations to compare – you have to ask yourself if the area you are interested in is the right one.  What does the data say?  Audience insights, demographics etc. Now you have narrowed it down to one or two to choose from.  How is visibility of that billboard in the current season?  This is very important.  Google maps does not tell the full picture.   Lastly – rate.  Rate from one vendor vs. another on the same stretch of road can vary widely – so that is why you dive deep and reach out to all vendors in a zone of interests.

Measurence: Out of curiosity, do you also “ride locations” to check on the billboards’ visibility?

Kristy: Absolutely!  I once rode the entire state of Texas and reviewed every single Dairy Queen billboard. The ride tells it all. Every board is unique and has its own personality. Traffic lights can increase the dwell time of the unit and therefore increase the value. I also have a theory on right hand vs left hand that I always put into play. Here in the US, we drive on the left.   If you drive on the left, the full visibility of a billboard on the right hand side may be obstructed by the rear view mirror of the car vs. a billboard on the left hand side could have longer overall visibility due to lack of “in car” obstructions. Something to think about.


Measurence: Do you think technology will eventually replace riding locations or it’s something that will always happen?

Kristy: They should continue riding locations because it gives a good feel of the market. In my opinion, it’s really impossible to get a good feel of the market otherwise.  It’s time consuming and costly, but it’s the best thing to do. The second best thing is to look at the data, look at the most recent vendor photos and Google street view.  However, Google doesn’t always update the photos quickly, or show the varied season that may affect the view – like the new growth of trees in the spring. The photo might say it’s a good location but then a building is built etc. Unless we can figure out a way to have live satellite feed of billboard locations we should always people riding the billboards.  Also that is where our audience is – in a car.  We have to see what they see.  I feel very strongly about having the customer be the driver while you’re taking notes of their reactions. Let them experience the ride and the billboard itself while you take all their notes.

Measurence: How has the buying process changed over the years?  

Kristy: The terms and the sales cycle are much shorter. I believe that the average term for a contract is between 3 months and 6 months – with 4 week intervals being more frequent. In the good old days – long term perms where the norm.  12 and 24 month contracts were common and anything less than a month was charged a very hefty premium. The digital world is a reflection of this. It is a much faster turnaround for the entire process. We have bought multi market digital units and had copy up within 24 to 36 hours from contract signature. Crazy fast in today's OOH world.

Measurence: How does the evolution of programmatic buying affect negotiation?

Kristy: We have not felt the full impact of this yet. We know it is coming and it is possible with a little special handling. Long term pre-set programmatic buys are in my opinion the most feasible means of handing programmatic buying. 

Measurence: How has increased measurement helped OOH buyers get more sales of the products they’re putting on the billboards?  

Kristy: The good old ROI question. When we are able to connect the advertisers data in connection and comparison to the OOH campaign – then we can finally prove ROI. By tapping into the client's back end data analytics and reviewing patterns pre, during and post campaign. But there are two or three other variables that are very important but can go under the radar like good creative or a product that is of interest to the audience it is in front of. By setting up the buy with data and insights beforehand, we can at least give the product the best possible position in the market for a sale. Trust me – we want those products to fly off the shelves. Also studies show that combining OOH with other mediums such a mobile or social can amplify the campaign upwards to 200 to 300%!

Measurence: How has data and technology changed the way OOH is created, planned, bought and sold?  Image uploaded from iOS-168436-edited.jpg

Kristy: DATA is KING!  In the old days, maps were printed on large sheets of paper, and sometimes we would have stickers that were numbered to place on that map to show the locations.  (Also only the very special clients got the “Big” maps.)   Then you would have to fax it and circle the dots so they would show up on the other side. Now you send links and they can investigate on their own.  You can then calculate which locations are the best to consider based on dwell time, speed, visibility and rate, taking the guesswork out of planning. The mapping software today is light-years ahead of how it was done when I first started in this industry. Sort of mind blowing, actually. Not only that, for creative, I have seen it go from hand-painted pictorials where people would paint faces on billboards to digital printing where they would print out the whole vinyl, and now we have artwork that we can create on our desktop, send out and have it up in less than 24 hours. It’s a good time to be in outdoor.





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