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Solving the ‘Aggravation of Aggregation’ in Digital Signage

The concept of standardizing and packaging ad space from multiple DOOH networks to make media buys easier for agencies is becoming more and more prevalent. We talked with Brian Dusho, CEO BroadSign, about his approach to target this market. Brian will pick up on this topic at the 4th Munich Digital Signage Conference which will be held on the 19th and 20th of October in Munich. (Tobias Franke)

Brian Dusho Broadsign International aggregation

Brian Dusho, CEO of BroadSign

Brian, what is meant by DOOH media aggregation?

Brian Dusho: The concept of DOOH media aggregation is based on the fact that, although digital signage is a powerful targeted medium, the average size of a network is not that big compared with TV, cable or radio. So, in order to be of interest to a media buyer, the ad space from disparate networks must be ‘aggregated’, i.e., combined, categorized and packaged in a way agencies are used to. Many entrepreneurs saw this potentially lucrative niche a few years ago and started a DOOH aggregator business.

Have the digital signage aggregators made a difference on the market?

Brian Dusho: The aggregators (or Ad Exchanges as I like to call them) have raised awareness of the medium over the past 4 years and have contributed greatly to educating the advertising community about DOOH. As for their market penetration, I know there are multi-network campaigns going through some of them, but not on a mass scale yet.

The idea that aggregation would accelerate advertising sales in DOOH is still sound from the strategic point of view. In fact, it is the only way big advertisers could place DOOH campaigns of regional or national scale. For this concept to materialize, technology should be applied to automate the process of ‘traffic’, or campaign execution across multiple networks.

You are saying a key technology component is missing, what is it exactly?

Brian Dusho: As it stands today, multi-network campaigns can be planned and booked through an aggregator web interface, but that does not cover the actual execution of a campaign. Once the media space is bought, someone has to create and send insertion orders to each network; verify and send the right versions of content; make sure the ads are played as scheduled; try to get reports from each network and consolidate them; obtain invoices and manage payments. Today all that is done by phone or email. In other words, a most sophisticated digital medium is being handled in an old-fashioned, inefficient way.

There are software platforms and APIs that can help to completely automate this process. It is a matter of time until this happens and one would be able not only to book but to execute large-scale campaigns without adding manual labour overhead.

What are the consequences of lack of automation for aggregators?

Brian Dusho: The goal of aggregation is to create economies of scale. However, the missing technology pieces prevent these media businesses from being scalable and, therefore, being commercially successful. For instance, some aggregators do not even accept ad space from networks below 200 or 100 screens because it is too costly to handle them manually. This, in my opinion, defeats the purpose of aggregation. Larger networks do not really need to be aggregated, as many of them rival TV broadcast or cable stations by size. The ‘gold’ is in combining and standardizing media space from small and medium-size networks, because it gives advertisers easy access to the consumers they would not reach otherwise.

With Broadsign Open you allegedly have a solution to address this issue. Can you tell us more about that technology?

Brian Dusho: Being a Software-as-a-Service provider, we are able to offer client networks to opt-in and be part of the connected BroadSign Universe. This year we released our BroadSign Open API, which is a platform through which networks can make their ad space visible to authorized outside parties (aggregators, agencies, advertisers). Network space is associated with geographic and demographic profiles, so it can show up in appropriate queries by advertisers.

We have already integrated BroadSign Open with a number of aggregator systems and our client networks started opting in to their platforms. It means that when campaigns involve networks running on BroadSign, their execution will be completely automated, from generating insertion orders to near-real time proof-of-play reports. The process is still new but it has started.

Can you explain how Broadsign Open and rVue or any other aggregator work together?

Brian Dusho: Rule number one is that every party has to explicitly opt-in. The aggregator has to volunteer to integrate with BroadSign Open; each network has to sign up to be part of the combined ad space and submit the data that describes their ad space inventory. Networks must have the right to accept or reject any media buy or any piece of content.

When the number of signed up networks reaches a critical mass, everyone will see and benefit from the efficiencies brought by automation.

What is the benefit for media planner or buyer?

Brian Dusho: Eventually, due to lower overhead and higher efficiency, the ROI from campaigns will be higher. The turn-around cycle will be shorter, and the whole process will be more transparent and accountable.

What is the benefit for network owner?

Brian Dusho: As I said before, the ones who will benefit more will be small and medium-size networks. In addition to the local advertising they usually get, their space will now be considered for large-scale campaigns, regional or national, that would otherwise be off-limits to them.

There are other advertising planning, reporting and billing tools on the market (e.g. Punctuate from Harris or Scala Admanager) why should an aggregator decide to use Broadsign and Broadsign Open?

Brian Dusho: BroadSign Open is the first platform to date that automates the execution portion of cross-network campaigns. The current version enables campaigns on BroadSign-run networks; the next step will be to provide access to BroadSign Open for any other networks.

Are there similar technologies on the market or is this the first offer of its kind?

Brian Dusho: If you mean technologies for automating cross-network campaign execution, I am not aware of any competition today.

Do you think that deployment of BroadSign Open by aggregators will accelerate the acceptance of DOOH among the media buyers? Can you give us an example?

Brian Dusho: Media buyers are interested in well-standardized, pre-packaged or custom-packaged DOOH media campaigns that are easy to buy, execute and account for. Using BroadSign Open automates the last remaining piece of aggregators’ manual workflow, thus reducing costs and turnaround time; so it meets the above requirements directly.

Thanks for the interview!