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Lessons Outdoor Ad Media Needs to Learn from Mobile's Woes Today's new breed of out-of-home advertisers are challenging the digital advertising platform.

By Cynthia Johnson Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Why do advertisers spend millions of dollars on TV ads during the Super Bowl every year? Sure, it's the most watched event on TV, but brands could arguably get better value from running ads on Facebook and Google.

Regardless of where you stand on that specific conundrum, it points to important questions about the advantages and disadvantages associated with online versus offline ad buys. Among the media industry, it's generally believed that digital platforms offer more data transparency and value than offline, but today's new breed of out-of-home advertising (OOH) platforms are starting to challenge that belief.

Until relatively recently, OOH has been a strictly analogue industry, but now it's catching up with Web and mobile to support tracking for view metrics, programmatic ad buys and the use of beacons and their tracking view metrics. Innovations like these were among the topics covered in a series of events called Digital Signage Week, which took place Oct. 24 to 28 in New York.

Related: The 6 Best Advertising Strategies For Small Business

In the same way that mobile advertising is finally coming of age, so is outdoor. Here are three keys to the future of OOH, drawing inspiration from the mobile ad industry.

1. Bill advertisers according to attention metrics.

Digital ad platforms are capable of serving up ads that ultimately aren't seen by anyone, so it's important that attention performance should play a role in billing models. This is in the best interest of both parties. When advertisers pay out according to impressions, it's unclear how much value they're getting for their budgets. Impressions can run almost continuously, but they won't do any good if no one is paying attention to them.

Viewability is critical, but you have to know how to measure it before you can charge for it. In order to adopt attention-based billing, OOH ad platforms need the ability to track performance, which is easier said than done. Next-generation analytics platform Placed is leading the charge.

2. Advertisers and platforms are strategic partners.

With mobile ads, we're seeing innovative models emerge that share revenue between publishers, advertisers and agencies. With OOH, platform providers can designate certain spots for in-house ads that venue management can control on their own.

Related: 8 Tips for Producing Advertising That Sells

Impax Media, for example, sets aside a certain share of their screens' content for venue managers to use as they like. Studies show waiting in the checkout line is the most hated part of the shopping experience, so Impax works together with retailers to capitalize on engagement with sponsored content spots to entertain shoppers as they wait to finish their transactions.

"Retailers have responded to our model with tremendous enthusiasm, because it addresses some real needs," said Dominick Porco, Impax's CEO. "For starters, it will cut down on theft by providing an elegant means to close a lane and prohibit someone from leaving the store with a shopping cart full of unpaid groceries. It will enhance the shopping experience by providing shoppers with relevant information while simultaneously reducing the perceived wait time; a significant deterrent to customer loyalty. And lastly, it provides the retailer with a 21st century communications platform to introduce and reinforce programs and incentives to their customer base."

Related: The 4 Digital Trends That Are Reshaping Advertising

3. Maximize impact with contextual relevance.

Shrewd advertisers know how to command attention with ad creative that's relevant to audience members. With OOH, which is by definition always location-specific, content can achieve maximum impact by speaking to locale-specific issues or venue-relevant activities.

Cynthia Johnson

Co-founder and CEO of Bell + Ivy, marketer, speaker and author

Cynthia Johnson is co-founder and CEO of Bell + Ivy. She is a marketer, speaker and author.

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