Our Future is Not Guaranteed

Our Future is Not Guaranteed

Our Future is Not Guaranteed

Adam Malone, Co-Founder & President at Screenverse

Anna Bager gave an opening address to the 2021 OAAA/Geopath conference in which she detailed the state of the OOH Media marketplace.  The theme of the conference is “Future Proof” and her prognostication is that we are in for a “roaring 20’s” and another “golden age of advertising”.  “OOH will be there” as the world wakes up, as friends, families, and fans “reconnect” with each-other and their favorite pastimes.  “OOH is the backdrop for in-person, outdoor, reconnection”.

Anyone who didn’t just emerge from a 17 year slumber can tell you that this optimism stands in stark contrast to the last 15 months of our collective experience.  We just experienced the industry’s most challenging year in a century.  Revenues were down 1/3 across the board.  Whole swaths of inventory rendered dormant.  People were furloughed, fired, and freaked out en masse.

One would be tempted to, in Anna’s position, chalk 2020 up to a black swan event and move on as if it never happened.  Or, at least, pine for the good old days where we could tout several thousand (or so it seems) consecutive quarters of industry growth.  Back when OOH was great.  Maybe we can make OOH great again?!

This message is for OOH specialists and, to a lesser extent, media owners.  2020 proved yet again that necessity is the mother of invention.  We had to reinvent ourselves constantly in order to survive, and as Anna said, many of us rose to the occasion and delivered some of our best work.

We rethought old business models.  Embraced technology and data to target and account for every dollar.  We insisted on fresh impressions data and followed audiences as patterns changed daily.  We brought creative ideas to our clients — from digital screens in essential retail to pizza boxes, hand sanitizer, and PPE.  We hustled to find solutions to account for lost revenues.  We thought laterally.  As Scott Wells noted yesterday, we built out new verticals such as meal delivery, DTC, and community health and learned how to sell into them.  We had fire in our bellies and a willingness to fight for what we could get.

One of the things that’s always been a hallmark of OOH is that we are an industry of tight knit relationships.  We’ll look back on 2020 for years to come and remember clearly who took your phone calls, worked extra hard to extend the brief and sell through your idea.  And the agency folks who were trying to squeeze every available impression out of ever shrinking budgets will not forget the free media, the deep discounts, and the quick turnarounds from their media partners.

As we look forward to “re-opening, recovery, reconnection, rebirth”… please don’t revert back to the thinking, planning, and campaigns of yesteryear.

Anna Bager’s most poignant lesson for all of us yesterday was to “keep pushing.  The future is never guaranteed.”

Keep pushing.  The future is never guaranteed.

An agency leader I spoke with a few weeks ago told me he’s concerned with his team.  “All of our plans are starting to look the same, again.”  The creative fire that kept us alive in the hardest year of our professional lives is at risk of burning out.  Are we supposed to be done with the skill-building, the pushing and striving and leveling up because highway traffic is jamming again?  Because subway ridership is trending up and Times Square is packed?

How many Trade Desk Certifications were posted to Linkedin in December and are now collecting dust?

Don’t revert back to the same old same old.  I promise it will not work this time.

Follow audiences.  Insist on real-time data and impressions figures.  Lean in to digital place based media.  The tools, data, and technology that deliver real audiences in the real world.  Lean in to media that might never end up on Instagram but will drive real results for your clients.

Anna told us yesterday that  “future proof is not just about planning for worst case scenarios.  It is imagining best case new scenarios”.  Let’s imagine them.  Let’s build them.  And let’s do it with the same intensity and focus as we did when we had no other choice.

Chicago’s TheBulletin Building Millennial-Centric Ad Network In Upscale Residential Blocks

Chicago’s TheBulletin Building Millennial-Centric Ad Network In Upscale Residential Blocks

Chicago’s TheBulletin Building Millennial-Centric Ad Network In Upscale Residential Blocks

Sixteen:Nine

A Chicago start-up is using plain old TVs as digital bulletin boards in upscale residential blocks as a targeted digital OOH advertising medium, with some 500 screens in a handful of U.S. cities and a sales deal with another start-up, New York-based Screenverse.

Screenverse will manage all direct and programmatic sales across TheBulletin.io residential DOOH network.

Run by former algorithmic trader Aditya Ramani and agency veteran Thomas Schneider, TheBulletin.io makes the service free to building operators – with apps that run off smart TVs or HDMI streaming devices like the Amazon FireStick.

It’s not clear to me if the buildings get a percentage of the advertising revenue, which is a model that’s been around for decades, or if this is positioned as a free service that creates an amenity in the lobby or common area for tenants. I THINK the buildings have the ability to use the screens for announcements.

The screens show national, local and hyperlocal neighbourhood ads. Advertisers can cherry-pick locations and times or block-buy time across neighbourhoods, cities or the network. The network’s main footprint is Chicago, but TheBulletin is also in New York City, Washington DC, Boston, and Atlanta

The ad side is managed by Screenverse, a new DOOH service run by a couple of familiar digital signage/digital OOH veterans: David Weinfeld and Adam Malone.

Screenverse is managing and monetizing digital displays in several major cities, in essential retail, bars and restaurants, and office buildings. It has deals with nine networks, covering about 50,000 screens.

Part of the pitch is that Screenverse also sells ads for a recently launched office network, so TheBulletin.io gives advertisers the opportunity to reach young professionals seven days a week where they live, work, and play. Whether people continue to work from home, return to the office, or adopt a hybrid model of the two, marrying TheBulletin’s growing network with Screenverse’s national DOOH footprint enables advertisers to reach real people and real places, while delivering real results.

“The first thing we look for is whether a screen network is delivering value to its venue partners and audiences,” says Weinfeld, CEO of Screenverse. “We then look for whether there is a team in place that can manage the technical and strategic challenges that arise from standing up and then growing a national network. As we have gotten to know Adi and Thomas, we are convinced that they are world-class entrepreneurs and we believe that, together, we can build a world class media network.”

I was aware Screenverse was out there but was assuming this was another programmatic play, given that both Weinfeld and Malone are coming from that world.

But Screenverse is not just a platform for buying and selling. The company does media sales, advertising operations (like scheduling the ads and reporting), AND provides technical expertise “to own the end-to-end monetization of digital screens in the physical world.”

Screenverse Office Network —10,000 Digital Screens Nationwide

Screenverse Office Network —10,000 Digital Screens Nationwide

Screenverse Office Network —10,000 Digital Screens Nationwide

OOH Today

Screenverse Office Network Powered by TouchSource Expands Reach to New Markets

New York, NY, – Screenverse, an emerging startup delivering ad management and monetization to digital screen networks, and TouchSource, the market leader in the field of digital building directories and digital signage, have formed a partnership to bring advertising-supported media to the latter’s footprint of 10,000 digital screens nationwide.

With a focus on connecting office professionals and visitors with large-format, high resolution content, including critical return to work information, Screenverse Office is designed to be a modern canvas for targeted and relevant advertising, public service announcements, and community messaging. This updated, leading-edge digital building signage is placed in prominent shared spaces in commercial real estate; lobbies, elevator bays, and atriums.

Post-pandemic return-to-work momentum is already underway.  Data from Kastle Systems and others show that markets like Dallas, Houston, and Austin, TX are approaching 40% building occupancy.  High-end professionals — lawyers, financial services professionals, corporate executives — are already “back” to a large degree.  And the data show that younger professionals are itching to return to the office to grow their skill sets, social lives, and business networks.

The Screenverse Office Network is positioned to help advertisers reach these young professionals, creative professionals, and high-end professionals who work in law, medicine, media, STEM, and financial services.

Reopening and the Future of Work:

While the last year has seen a global shift from working in offices to working at home, Screenverse and TouchSource are confident that professionals will return to the office for a plethora of reasons in a post-COVID environment. Even if our work lives take on a more hybrid approach to in-office and remote working, there are many amongst us who welcome the chance to return to the high-rises and office buildings that dot our national landscape.

McKinsey recently published an analysis on the future of remote work:

“The potential for remote work depends on the mix of activities undertaken in each occupation and on their physical, spatial, and interpersonal context… employers have found during the pandemic that although some tasks can be done remotely in a crisis, they are much more effectively done in person. These activities include coaching, counseling, and providing advice and feedback; building customer and colleague relationships; bringing new employees into a company; negotiating and making critical decisions; teaching and training; and work that benefits from collaboration, such as innovation, problem-solving, and creativity.”

Find the full report HERE.

In any work environment over the long term, the role of the office will shift from housing workers and companies to fostering collaboration, culture, connection and community.  Screenverse Office, along with our partners, are committed to delivering value to building owners, workers/visitors, and relevant advertisers who want to build vibrant and productive communities.

Screenverse & TouchSource Partnership:

“Our customers want to deliver innovative solutions that deliver a great visitor experience while keeping operating costs lower,” said Ajay Kapoor, CEO of TouchSource. “Our partnership with Screenverse allows us to help our customers accelerate innovation with modern digital signage and directories while lowering costs to maintain the solution. Together, we’re supporting investments in smart digital signage technology, delivering relevant ads, and allowing contract flexibility that fits all parties.”

Kapoor continues, “TouchSource and Screenverse deliver a compelling media network that balances the goals of the advertising community with the standards and expectations of top property owners, while giving more control of content for building owners, more content options for advertisers, and flexible contracting terms for all. “

Adam Malone, President of Screenverse, sees great synergies in the partnership.

“Screenverse is in the business of building partnerships with digital place-based and digital OOH media companies who are poised for growth and vitality for decades to come.  We love the vision of the TouchSource leadership. They do right by their stakeholders – building owners, workers, visitors – and are committed to delivering enhanced services to make workspaces safer, more efficient, and more fun.  We are honored to partner with them to help create the kind of work environments we’d all like to spend time in.

Of course, we are also attracted to the audiences being reached by the signage, and the ability to offer full-motion, bright, brilliant paid content to relevant advertisers!”

The Screenverse Office Network is “live” and is available in the Vistar SSP and direct via the Screenverse sales team. Please contact Screenverse for more information.