Videos, interactive gaming, choose-your-own-adventure product tours... there's so much complexity in digital marketing right now that nobody could be blamed for yearning to rely on a plain old billboard. But is such a thing still effective?
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As is the case with most marketing, it depends on what you're trying to do.
"[What] might make the case for a company....is if you have a high density of a target market," explains AdQuick CEO Matt O'Connor. "What that means is if the companies that you're trying to target or get on the radar of are in a particular area or at a particular event, that is a big green sign to say you should really explore this."
But if you think such opportunities are confined to big events, you're wrong. Think about how many ads you see in the airport—a "common B2B target where many companies are targeting decision-makers who are business travelers."
In fact, out-of-home (OOH) advertising has several advantages over its more complex brethren. It's one of the lowest-cost mediums, for example, as well as easily optimized: "You don't need to necessarily buy a 12-week campaign for your product if you know that decision-makers are going in and out of the office at 7:00 to 9:00 AM....you can hyper-target," O'Connor says.
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George Thomas: Marketing Smarts listeners, I am excited to bring you a conversation that I think many of you, this may be a new conversation for you. I have to ask you, have you tried OOH? If you're like what is OOH? It's out-of-home advertising, and that's what we're going to talk about today. Let me know using the hashtag #MPB2B if you've used it, tried it, thought about it, wondered what in the heck we're talking about at the beginning of the podcast. I look forward to hearing from you on socials or in my inbox.
Today, we're chatting it up with Matthew O'Connor. Matthew is the CEO and co-founder of AdQuick, the first platform to allow marketers and agencies to complete the entire process of planning, buying, executing, and measuring out-of-home advertising campaigns anywhere in the US and across the globe. That probably means where you live, hopefully, unless you're an alien.
Prior to AdQuick, Matt worked at Amazon and held various executive positions within Instacart. Matt earned his BA from the University of Notre Dame and MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business. This gentleman is educated and he's about to educate you. Listeners, you know what time it is, it's time to get into the good stuff.
Matt, for the B2B marketers who are just trying to get up to speed on this conversation, how would you explain what is out-of-home advertising?
Matthew O'Connor: That's a good segue. It's any ad that is actually out in the real world that you might encounter in public. That's everything from the most commonly known billboards, but in office buildings, airports, doctor's offices, street furniture, so any ad that you might encounter out in the real world. As you can tell, there are a lot of different formats and types of that.
George: Obviously, there is going to be a way that we want to be able to measure that. In the bio, we kind of talked about that AdQuick is probably a platform that might be able to do that. We may at some point dive into that, but we're talking to B2B marketers today, and they're probably asking, is it for me. I need you to think just for a second, all the types of B2B marketers in the world, who is out-of-home (OOH) advertising a right fit for?
Matthew: There is a very likely chance that it has some application for your company and building the brand. That's because the medium is literally everywhere. It has the highest reach of any ad channel. I think a couple of things that might make the case for a company to have an exceptional use case is if you have a high density of a target market. What that means is if the companies that you're trying to target or get on the radar of are in a particular area or at a particular event, that is a big green sign to say you should really explore this.
When a density of your prospects or decision makers are in the same place, out-of-home is a tremendous way to get on their radar, educate them about your product, increase your consideration with that set of people. That's what I would say would be one of the biggest indicators as to whether it's a really good fit.
George: I think about the world that we live in, and times they change. That's the one thing that is constant, by the way, is things are always changing. Why is now the right time for B2B marketers to test out-of-home advertising or even think about if it might be great for their marketing efforts?
Matthew: A couple of things jump to mind. One is that the creative required to do a good out-of-home campaign is relatively low, especially as compared to other traditional medias like TV and radio. That's because TV and radio require a lot of production, vocals, video, etcetera, that have long lead times, and once they're shot, they're static. Whereas with out-of-home, you need creative similar to what exists in digital, which can be relatively simple to create and updated and iterated over time. Going back to things changing, in three or four months, the messaging you want to have around your B2B product might have changed because the world has been changing pretty quickly. That's one big reason.
The other thing that comes to mind is as budgets are getting tighter, the recession or macro things are a bit in flux as well, out-of-home is one of the lowest cost mediums. The national average CPM is about $5. When you compare that to rising digital costs and rising TV costs that are in the CPM ranges of $25+, out-of-home is a really low cost way to get broad exposure. Ultimately, if you prove that it works in certain markets with certain demos, you can scale it to a national presence.
That combination of things makes right now a really unique time to actually give out-of-home thorough investigation.
George: I love that. I'm going to ask a precursor to the next question that I thought I wanted to ask. You kind of painted this picture of "and then go nationwide." Is there a smart way to implement this where it's like, do something local, make sure it works, and then drip it out? What have you seen companies doing as far as the surge or the start of these out-of-home advertising campaigns?
Matthew: We almost always encourage a test, measure, and scale approach. As you mentioned, that first piece would be the test, where a company can start with ideally a handful of potential markets where their ideal buyers are. That's really important to start with a broad geographic view, at least a list, because another nuance that a lot of people aren't aware of is that market rates can vary by almost 20X between a high cost market like New York City and a lower cost market like Dallas, Houston, or Miami. Having that list allows you to look at what the penetration levels and overall cost for an initial campaign can be.
Then we always suggest work your way up the cost structure. That allows advertisers to test a single market at anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000, which is a pretty reasonable experimental budget for most companies, and then actually gather the data on either their brand awareness, or their site traffic, or their prospect's willingness to engage on a much smaller scale that they can then extrapolate out to either higher cost markets or similar cost markets throughout the country.
That test, measure, scale framework is really highly encouraged with out-of-home in particular because of the cost variance in the channel.
George: I love that launch strategy of getting started. Let's flip the coin and look at the other side and put our tactical actionable hat on for a second. How can B2B marketers easily get started? Meaning they might be sitting here thinking, "Where do I go? What do I do? This is a new world." Where can they easily get started with out-of-home advertising?
Matthew: I would go to where your highest value prospects are geographically. It's maybe obviously a geographical medium. If you can find sort of hotspots, events, headquarters, etcetera, that is a really good place to start initially. From there, you can look at where do these people travel, do I want to target them during a commute, are there other places that they might be like airports, which are another common B2B target where many companies are targeting decision-makers who are business travelers. Finding those geographic pockets and then working backward to engineer the best out-of-home campaign that really gets in front of those people on their journey, whether that's commuting, traveling, etcetera.
One point of emphasis here that is pretty unique, and a lot of people don't realize with out-of-home, is that dayparting and dynamic creative are now very prevalent and highly used. What that means is that you don't need to necessarily buy a 12-week campaign for your product if you know that decision-makers are going in and out of the office at 7:00 to 9:00 AM and leaving at 5:00 to 7:00 PM, you can hyper-target your out-of-home during only those time windows and only during the workweek. There is the targeting geographic density and then working backward on engineering those campaigns, and then there's even more specificity around when is my audience most primed and most likely to have this ad resonate with them.
George: I love that you leaned into those two things, targeting and the mindset of the consumer or the prospect, the lead, the human being that hopefully your ad is getting them into a direction of you're going to be able to help them with something. It's interesting because that leads me into my next question.
There's typically mindset, you're going to do paid ads, mindset, you're going to do social media marketing, mindset, you're going to create content for your blog, mindset. There's a place that you go, a thing or things that you think about when you're creating that content for that space. What are two or three, could be more, things B2B marketers should be focused on when getting started with this out-of-home advertising?
Matthew: The main things that come to mind are, one, to the extent that you can develop a geographic breadth, at least from the consideration of where your campaign goes, that is going to give you a ton of place and media type flexibility, going back to my earlier reference about the variation in price between markets. That's one good one.
Two is developing a simple, somewhat provocative, or at least authentic copy where you have the constraints of a billboard. That means that you don't get 50 words to explain what your company does, you need do it in 7 to 10 words and really get to the core essence of it. The more authentic you are about it, the more it's going to resonate with the consumer, in this case the decision maker at the brand.
The last main piece I'd emphasize is that there are thousands of media owners across the US, so really making sure that you consider all possible options is going to be important for optimizing the exposure of your ads and the cost that you end up spending. That would be the last major piece that I would suggest advertisers consider.
George: Valuable information. Maybe a rewind point right there, Marketing Smarts listeners. The amount that you're going to spend, you definitely want to focus on things that can help you to maybe not do so much of that spending unless it's making sense and it's working.
I will say this. One thing I've learned in life is when we do something for the first time, which there may be people who are listening to this right now that it's going to be the first time they're trying this, there is usually a hurdle or two in the way. By the way, people have done this 20, 50, 100 times before, they look back and go, "Geesh, never saw that hurdle before."
What are some hurdles, so that we can help the audience that they can watch out for, or should watch out for along the way when they start to implement or re-implement some of these out-of-home campaigns?
Matthew: It is a nuanced channel. With AdQuick, we've tried to streamline a lot of these workflows and basically take a lot of the friction out of the buying process. One is that there's going to be a lot of different creative formats. If you could just imagine a subway ad has a different dimension than a billboard ad. Because there are so many different media types, often campaigns include a bunch of different creative formats, which require to have your creative in multiple formats. That's one big one.
The second is that out-of-home is increasingly measurable. A lot of advertisers don't really understand that you can measure out-of-home. It used to be sort of just thought of as a brand play, impressions play, so we know that 3,000,000 saw our ad, but we don't know what they did after that, we don't know precisely with that group did our brand awareness go up, we don't know if any of those people went to our website. With modern data sets and first-party data, you can actually get granular information around increased brand awareness and consideration, what pool of the exposed audience went to your website, etcetera.
Other things include if you're a physical store or have a presence, you can see where certain consumers traveled. There's a lot more ability to measure, so that's another thing that you should really consider. Again, something that we've built, but is also possible for most advertisers to determine what the actual ROI was, rather than how many people simply saw the ads.
George: It's great that you leaned into that direction, because I come from the philosophy if you can't measure it, it don't make sense. Be able to have that spend, be able to have that measurement, understand in these different kinds of pillars, or verticals, or vectors, or whatever words you want to use there that you're like, yes, we moved the needle is amazing. Speaking of moving the needle, I'm curious if you might be able to share with the Marketing Smarts listeners and myself what are a couple of success stories that you've seen around out-of-home advertising in the past?
Matthew: There's a really good list and I think some of the iconic B2B success stories. One that comes to mind is Twilio. This was a while back when they were still a younger startup. They simply got creative in San Francisco that said, "Ask your developer." They got that location on the 101 in San Francisco. They had it forever. Everybody was asking, "What does this even mean?" So, it was provocative and in a curious way. They really speak to how that single out-of-home campaign really propelled them to a much more well-known within their community there in the developer space in San Francisco. That's one that comes to mind that. I think in the memoir about Twilio's success, Jeff Lawson starts the book with that, so obviously that made a pretty big difference.
A few other examples that come to mind is it's a really great way for upstarts to get on the map. Another more recent example was Rippling calling out one of their competitors, Gusto, as to a benefit that Rippling had that Gusto didn't. That was another one.
The last one that comes to mind is a similar upstart to massive success story, which was when Brex was getting started they dominated markets, and they did so really affordably, and said billboards were the highest ROI ad channel they've ever done.
These are stories of companies who were on the up-and-coming path using billboards to really propel them a few steps past where they would have been organically. Those are a few that jump to mind. There are a bunch of others, but I'll stop there for brevity.
George: I love that. I almost feel like I want to ask you the same question in a different way. Is there one that just stands out in your mind that you're like that is super innovative? It might have been the copy, it might have been the creative, it might have been the location. I want the listeners to hear how far, in a good way, can you push the envelope. Is there one that just really stands out that you're like that was just innovative?
Matthew: I have to go back to the Twilio example, just because it was really definitive in their company's history. If you saw it on the surface, the copy was indirect to their end target audience, which was developers at large companies who were looking to SMS automation and technology that Twilio had built. It was playing into the fact that they had an obtuse initial angle to the average B2B employee, so they kind of owned that and said, "Just ask your developer."
When people in marketing or business operations, etcetera, saw the ad, they would go to their developer and say, "What is this Twilio thing?" That is marketing gold right there, when you have certain teams asking the teams who are going to be using it what it is and whether they're interested in it, and then those people checking it out and they're like, "Oh my god, this is going to really help us in tons of different ways."
I really think that was one of the crème-de-la-crème of B2B out-of-home marketing.
George: If it makes it into a book, then you know it's good. Also, I think there's a visceral response. Marketing Smarts listeners, you can have this or not have this. If somebody said, "Ask your developer," about anything right now, where does your mind go? It's know your audience, know the people around your audience, and then craft something around that.
Matt, as we close this up, I'll give you an opportunity if people want to connect, if they want to learn more, all of that good stuff here in a second. One of the ways that we like to end the Marketing Smarts Podcast is with some words of wisdom. What are some words of wisdom you would want to leave the audience with as we land the plane today?
Matthew: In particular with out-of-home and our space is that you can think of these ads as blank canvases. At a high level, there are two directions. There's regular vanilla advertising that just describes what your company does. Then there's more thought-provoking, authentic angles around messaging and creative. I strongly suggest—and maybe it sounds obvious —going the latter route, which is authentic to your brand, potentially thought-provoking.
The more you can lean into that, the more that resonates with the consumer, and that will leave them A) remembering the ad, and B) asking questions, probably looking to learn more. I think there is a hesitation to be edgy, or maybe wanting to stay in a certain lane when you're using out-of-home, but I really suggest doing the opposite, which is going aggressively into what your company stands for, the values, the authenticity, the brand voice. That is a really important factor in out-of-home, and I think one of the pieces of wisdom that we've learned from seeing all of these different campaigns.
George: Marketing Smarts listeners, embrace your different. By the way, if this is the first episode that you're listening to, you stumbled across it on social or whatever, you can go back to the Sally Hogshead two-part series about different is better than better, and then listen to what words of wisdom Matt just gave us, because it's like, yes, please do that.
Matt, if people want to connect, if they have questions, if they want to buy you a steak dinner because now they did out-of-home advertising and it blew up their business, where do you want to send them?
Matthew: Hopefully this podcast is the start of many future stories for different companies who end up using it and exploding. We'll hope for that. We've built AdQuick.com to be a resource center with a bunch of free software tools, like market explorers and planners. Basically, everything you need to know with a bunch of different tools to understand what markets might be right for you. So, AdQuick.com has a bunch of free resources for anybody who is curious to learn more about the space, see what might work well for their business, so that's definitely the best place to go.
George: Marketing Smarts listeners, did you take lots of notes? I have to ask, what is your one thing, your number one execution opportunity after this podcast? Make sure you reach out and let us know either in my inbox or on Twitter using the hashtag #MPB2B.
I know for me one of the most interesting sections of the episode was actually being able to measure out-of-home advertising. Think about that; low cost and being able to measure it, and it being an amplifier to what you might already be doing.
We'd like it if you could leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast app, but we'd love it if you would share this episode with a coworker or friend. Until the next episode where we talk with Mark Kilens about leveraging event-led growth for B-to-B marketing success, I hope you do just a couple of things. One, reach out and let us know what conversation you'd like to listen in on next. Two, focus on getting 1% better at your craft each and every day. Finally, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B-to-B human. We'll see you in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast.
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Published on July 14, 2022
Matthew O'Connor, CEO and co-founder of AdQuick, the first platform to allow marketers and agencies to complete the entire process of planning, buying, executing, and measuring out-of-home advertising campaigns in the US and across the globe. Prior to AdQuick, Matt worked at Amazon and held various executive positions at Instacart. Matt earned his BA from the University of Notre Dame and MBA from the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business.
LinkedIn: Matthew O.
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