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Michael Cooper

The automated buying which has been enabled by digital screens and audience metrics has created an environment where both agency and creative team can be efficient. So efficient, that brands can update messaging in “real time” creating interactive relationships with consumers based on demographics, mood and even what the consumer may be wearing or who they are standing next to. 

EYE Reporter touched base with Rapport Global President/CEO Michael Cooper to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing out-of-home technology buys heading into the
new year.

Cooper supports the Rapport brand working to expand the company’s philosophy and culture to global markets. He previously ran the company for six years in the UK and
three years in North America after spending three years on the client side working for
British Sky Broadcasting.

EYE:

As we head into Q4 2016, what are Rapport’s observations on the biggest challenge and then opportunity out-of-home media faced this year? 

Cooper:

The challenges and the opportunities were one and the same, but they were many.   Our audience continued to grow, as did our ability to reach, connect and engage with it. However, the influx of data, information, systems and processes, often led to complication and confusion instead of simplification when it comes to planning.  Our medium has often been criticized as, too complicated to buy, it shouldn’t be and we now have the opportunity to simplify it massively, on a national level, if we align as an industry.

EYE:

Is there anything you have seen in 2016 with respect to a client using OOH media creatively to make an impact that you can share? Any pictures of the execution?

COOPER:

I love that OOH is now also used as a creative vessel in order to generate content that can go socially viral. The ‘Better Wingman’ Campaign we did with Mediahub for Jet Blue was a great example of that. It wasn’t a pure OOH campaign to deliver a massive reach, it exploited the medium and technology to interact with consumers on a personal level and the filmed footage went viral very quickly.  

 
 

EYE:

What is your favorite tech forward OOH initiative right now?

Cooper:

Again I love the multimedia interaction and the tracking abilities. The fact that we can take a brand with multiple creative messages, and update them, ‘real time’, to be relative with what is trending, how a geographical area is feeling or any other metric, is pretty great. We really have reached a point where, ‘anything is possible, with the restrictions of time and money’.

EYE:

How is technology changing the way the agency looks at buying media?

COOPER:

The automation of buying has really benefited us in terms of efficiencies, freeing time to be more creative and drive the business. We’ve also seen our business grow with the ability to ‘top up’ campaigns with hyper targeted programmatic buying added on top of generic awareness campaigns. Rapport doubled in size again this year, and a lot of that is down to our ability to accurately add incremental, accountable audience numbers to our buys.

EYE:

How far are we from really buying audiences as opposed to media screens?  What might be the greatest barriers we still need to combat?

COOPER:

I think we are there, and in truth we have been for a while. Our industry measurement tools are, at least as robust, as that of other media, more so in may cases. The fact that much of the industry has not yet adopted this as a currency is on us. We should not dismiss screens/ units, or geography as a segment of measurement; it’s what sets us apart from other media. The quantity and distribution however, should be dictated by optimum delivery and indexed distribution, before we add on lifestyle and actual interaction. 

EYE:

How is mobile changing the face of out-of-home media?

COOPER:

It’s another tool, a great one but like all tools, it’s as good as the people using it. Our sector will not grow simply because new things appear, we have to analyze, sell and monetize them. Mobile and OOH are a powerful combination and uniquely linked, not just in the ability to track an audience and automize creative delivery, but dual messaging, audience interaction and reward distribution. 

"Our medium has always been criticized as, too complicated to buy, it shouldn't be and we now have the opportunity to simplify it massively,
on a national level, if we align as an industry"

EYE:

EYE recently worked with industry partners to deploy an eight-week digital screen mall initiative utilizing facial recognition technology to target audiences.  Essentially the screens were outfitted with cameras and when a person walked in front of the screen the advertising experienced was customized based on age, gender, and mood. No personally identifiable data was saved so as to protect consumer privacy. As you think about utilizing new technologies that use cameras and various mobile technologies, do you believe there is a way to ensure the balance between capturing important data and maintaining the privacy of the consumer?

COOPER:

It’s a challenge in every area of life as more and more data is collected on us.  Wrongful collection or distribution of audience data is basically illegal, and we have to make sure we never cross that line. I think people will be more worried on what social platforms; banks, comms companies and government might be collecting before they worry about OOH. We just have to hope people adhere to the rules and create and follow industry standards and best practices to insure we take audience privacy seriously.  

EYE:

Out-of-home advertising was the only traditional media business to grow last year, what are your predictions for the industry in 2017. Is technology the driving force behind this growth?

COOPER:

The driving force is will be the people. Developments in technology and audience metrics are all well and good, for success we need to market them and use them aggressively. We really are in a position to prove that we out perform and over deliver against other media. The audience is moving more and more into our world, our ability to reach them and add real life value is incredible and the evolution in technology makes our industry exciting. If we don’t want to be a 4% medium in 2020, we have to embrace it, believe in it and use it.