OOH leaders reflect on how Playout is a sector game-changer

OOH leaders reflect on how Playout is a sector game-changer
The Media Leader Interview

UK OOH leaders discuss how Playout will change the OOH sector and wider media world.


Following the article in The Media Leader revealing Outsmart’s launch of Playout — a new system to unify tracking and verification of all out-of-home (OOH) advertising in the UK — we decided to pull together some of the best brains in UK OOH in a virtual round table to investigate why the system will change the OOH sector and wider media world.


James Copley, UK CEO, Talon Outdoor

David McEvoy, chief marketing officer, JCDecaux UK

Nick Maddison, managing partner, the7stars, and founding member of the UK’s first dedicated outdoor buying company Blade

Gill Reid, partner and head of OOH, EssenceMediacom

Julie MacManus, head of OOH, Adwanted

Richard Bon, managing director, Clear Channel UK

Chris Forrester, director of commercial outdoor, Global

Why will Playout be good for the OOH sector?

Copley: Playout will improve accountability in OOH. It’s important to make sure that as an industry we are consolidating our position as a trusted and accountable medium — creating an industry wide approach is a fundamental step in doing so.

McEvoy: Measurement across all media is cited as the number-one priority for CMOs in terms of proof of play and effectiveness. Playout is an industry standard so the whole of Out-of-Home is measured on a single platform rather than peer-to-peer individual reporting

Maddison: 100%. Any form of collective view of what’s running where & when has been lacking for too long.

Reid: As the platform is still being built, we will want to understand how it will work in the real world with real data.

MacManus: The OOH industry has already collaborated brilliantly in reaching consensus on standards, and this next step will add accountability and transparency at a time when this is ever more important to clients.

Bon: The accredited Playout data platform will deliver enhanced accountability and transparency for all DOOH advertisers.

Forrester: Playout delivers certainty of ad delivery on every screen and every moment so it’s undoubtedly a positive development for the outdoor industry

What is good about Playout versus what you get from other media?

Maddison: It’s always great to see competing media owners coming together for the greater good — holding each other to account will raise the tide.

Forrester: Outdoor companies, Global included, own the end-to-end infrastructure, from ad opportunity to delivery on screens. Playout certifies the safe arrival of the intended ad on the chosen screen, and provides ease of access to that data

Bon: OOH stands out as a highly trusted Real World media channel. As Justin Gibbins, founder of Work Research puts it: You can’t lie in public! Playout adds a much anticipated additional layer of operational trust that will fuel unparalleled growth across DOOH.

JCDecaux UK’s chief marketing officer David McEvoy

McEvoy:  It’s one single point of Playout, and shows the sector’s approach to making this brilliant medium easier to plan, buy and measure. With 64% of all revenues now digital measurement becomes much more important.

MacManus: Introducing a central system automatically removes the overhead and potential inaccuracies inherent in peer-to-peer distribution. Buyers can access the Playout data for their OOH bookings on their timescales, in the same format, whoever they buy from, with the confidence that validation from an independent third party adds.

Reid: Suffice to say we support and applaud anything that leads to greater standardisation and accountability.

Copley: Unlike some other media channels that report claimed views, small samples or a small percentage of ad pixels being in view for 1 second, Playout will be providing reports based on actual data from the media players. When paired with Route, buyers can then confidently understand the actual impact of their campaign rather than just an ‘opportunity to see’.

What are your clients asking for in respect to OOH data?

McEvoy:  In our recent research, digital OOH measurement was cited as a key reason for purchase but also the area where expectations were highest. This level of reporting also delivers much better feedback into econometric and multimedia attribution models.

Reid: We always demand on behalf of our clients the rigorous set of standards that Playout is saying must be adhered to.

Global’s director of commercial outdoor, Chris Forrester

Forrester: Flexible access and accurate ad delivery. Playout will assure them of both!

Maddison: OOH is hugely personal to clients. When they go out and check their fine creative is being liberated to their target audience and find it’s not running, there is, quite understandably, instant distrust. We need to know at the touch of a button exactly what’s live at any given moment.

Bon: Clients rightly expect granular, timely and simple proof around DOOH campaign delivery, via a consistent connection that avoids unwelcome complexity.

Copley: Clients ultimately seek transparency. They want to be confident that the investments they make into OOH are effective. Standardised playout reporting is a positive step towards providing improved accountability for our clients, making it more straightforward to deliver holistic reporting.

Which clients or brand sectors do you think OOH might attract due to the advent of Playout data?

Forrester: This is a powerful opportunity for advertisers. For those focussed on online media, Playout data can be ingested into established econometric or data response models, with time and location of ad delivery metrics easily added.

Maddison: There’s an opportunity for OOH to prove itself as a response driving medium — a true single source of quality data will enable us to understand the true outcomes of experiments & tests across many advertiser categories.

Talon Outdoor UK CEO James Copley

Copley: The proliferation of digital OOH inventory and ability for OOH to be activated in much the same way as online campaigns with improved verified playout data will attract more interest from performance-based clients.

Bon: OOH already delivers outstanding results for a raft of global brands and local businesses. Playout will benefit all advertisers, while perhaps offering added appeal to more digitally orientated brands, particularly given the rising allure and accessibility of programmatic OOH.

McEvoy: Brands that are highly penetrated or reliant on digital Online and Social media; they are used to being able to measure and now they can add digital out-of-home to that mix.

What other industry wide tech solutions would you like to see (in OOH or elsewhere)?

Bon: The OOH industry has already aligned around important standards including OpenDirect and OpenRTB for programmatic OOH. Digital display technology is also advancing to drastically reduce energy consumption. Just as critically, it is now common for OOH media firms to collaborate on advertising effectiveness studies, charitable campaigns and projects that outline OOH’s positive societal contribution.

Reid: Media owner collaboration has been the best thing to have come out of the last two tumultuous years and long may it continue across all facets of the business.

McEvoy: I think the next big area is around creativity. How do you pre-test and AB test in digital out-of-home for improved outcomes? DCO is a key in digital online and will be in the future for digital out-of-home.

Clear Channel UK MD Richard Bon

Forrester: Working with advertising industry bodies like the IAB is important to shape industry solutions, but we must also must focus specifically on outdoor standardisation — that’s where our collaborative efforts with outdoor database SPACE, and the joint industry audience measurement ROUTE comes in.

MacManus: I agree with Chris. Along with Route and Space, Playout will form another building block in the whole OOH process and allows for future extendibility. It can also provide a powerful data set to improve econometric modelling for the medium.

Copley: Talon have invested heavily in technology to develop capabilities that deliver simpler activation, greater value and effectiveness for clients. We would advocate for increased investment across the sector and continued improvements to media owner automation and integration capabilities. While Playout is a big step in the right direction it’s only one piece of the overall puzzle.

Maddison: Let’s get Playout sorted for reporting, then a front-end platform too, please. Oh, and add the smaller OOH media owners to the party invite.

Any final thoughts?

Bon: Playout is globally the most advanced industry-level POP system and the first of its kind to collect data across all player types. As such, we hope it will be a model for how the industry can work together to create high levels of trust and transparency in our medium.

McEvoy: Once again the OOH industry is showing its collective will to grow the media and give access to improved outcomes for clients. As a sector we try to take the responsible choice and put clients at the heart of our business decision making.

Greg Grimmer is CEO of Adwanted UK, the parent group for The Media Leader.

Adwanted UK is the trusted delivery partner for three essential services which deliver accountability, standardisation, and audience data for the out-of-home industry. Playout is Outsmart’s new system to centralise and standardise playout reporting data across all outdoor media owners in the UK. SPACE is the industry’s comprehensive inventory database delivered through a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution which delivers the ooh industry’s audience data quickly and simply into clients’ systems. Contact us for more information on SPACE, J-ET, Audiotrack or our data engines.

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