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Clear Channel Offers Automated Ad Buying for Digital Boards

Clear Channel Outdoor Americas now sells digital billboard ad inventory using automated ad sales technology, the company said Wednesday. Clear Channel has enlisted ad tech firm Rubicon to power the effort, and says it plans to use the system to sell ad space on 1,000 of the digital billboard screens it owns across the U.S., including those located in some major airports.

Clear Channel says the new programmatic offering will introduce ease and efficiency to the ad sales process, but could also help marketers better target ads to specific groups of people. Clear Channel already offers clients audience research through a product it calls Radar, for example, which it says can help marketers identify the types of consumers who may view specific billboards.

Alternatively, marketers may have their own intelligence about consumers in particular areas, and might use the new service to pick which billboard locations might best suit their needs. A quick-service restaurant might choose to promote a breakfast deal only in specific locations, for example, based on information about its customers in those locales.

Automated, or “programmatic,” ad sales systems are prevalent in the world of online advertising, but remain relatively nascent for billboard or “out-of-home” advertising sales. Business is typically done the old-fashioned way, with buyers cutting deals with human salespeople.

Clear Channel expects that to change, according to Wade Rifkin, the company’s senior vice president of programmatic. “We asked clients about this, and the response was that the time is right for them to buy out-of-home through the same platforms they’re using to buy other channels, like mobile and display,” Mr. Rifkin said.

The idea is that marketers will be able to buy Clear Channel ad space “programmatically” using their existing ad-buying software, Mr. Rifkin said, including tools offered by third-party ad tech companies such as MediaMath and TubeMogul. Those tools are mostly used to purchase online advertising today.

A handful of clients have already purchased Clear Channel ads programmatically during pilot programs, the company said, including those in the entertainment, financial services and consumer packaged goods sectors.

The system was recently used to purchase ads for Broadway show Matilda The Musical, for example, which appeared on billboards in New York’s Times Square and alongside the New Jersey Turnpike.

Source: Wall Street Journal