Brian Dusho (BroadSign) – “Industry Needs Automated Booking Systems and a Category Name”
Ooh-tv met with Brian Dusho, CEO of BroadSign. He shares with us the next steps that the industry has to take to become a 20-30 billion dollar business.
What prevents the industry today from becoming a significant player in the media landscape?
In the past, we have had a lot of different issues holding the industry back: we had a lack of standards, hardware was very expensive, capital was not present in the market place, advertisers weren’t interested enough in our space…
All of those barriers have now been lifted: prices for hardware have dropped, capital is starting to come back, technology is now advanced to the point where you can join other networks and be part of a major advertising offer with the aggregators, etc.
To me the key factor that is still really holding back the dollars right now is the lack of automated systems.
In the USA, we had these experimental media buys, such as the Schering-Plough experiment. (Schering Plough wanted to place ads on 17 place-based video networks as part of their overall media strategy for 7 consumer brands, Ed.). This multi-network campaign was coordinated by OVAB (now DPAA), who hired an agency to fulfill it. The results were phenomenal; ad recall was 62% and 26% of viewers said they were likely to buy the advertised products. The problem is that this buy took six months to execute. It took a month to look at all the media kits, another month to plan it, there was little or no reporting during the campaign period, etc.
So we might have examples of great media buys, but how does that scale?
We want to become a 20-30 billion dollar business and we can’t do that without the systems to be automated. Today the booking technology is still in a very analogue, manual world.
What we have to do is to create open standards which allow media buyers to make thousands of transactions, whether they are local, regional or national buys.
Is that what BroadSign tried to address by launching its own booking platform?
Yes, we hope to solve a part of the problem. We have 300 networks today running on BroadSign technology and we have provided the ability to automate three things: the inventory across all the networks, the process for the insertion order, and the proof of performance system that will soon be audited by a reputable third-party.
A company that has maybe 200 very good locations – and might never get the attention of a media buyer – can now be part of hundreds of thousands of screens and get some ad dollars.
And this also solves the problem of capital. Owners don’t have to raise 20-30 million dollars to build a sizable enough network to talk to a media buyer. They can focus on 200 good locations, and still be seen by a media buyer because they are part of larger network.
We believe that building automated cross-network campaign execution solutions is the only way for the industry to scale and other companies have to do the same in order to have, in the end, one central network.
Look at the internet: if every single computer was using a different internet you won’t have internet advertising. Our problem is very similar.
Another factor holding back development is a clear name and category for the market. Please explain.
Yes, as of now we are not a separate category for advertisers. We are perceived as part of the OOH space – a small part of that actually – which is already the smallest bucket in the overall media spending.
But we don’t really belong there. If you look at the internet, they managed, in a very small period of time, to create their own category and are able to get 10% of the media revenues no matter which market you look at in the world.
So if we want to have our place at the table, and not just have crumbs, we’ll have to create our own category and come up with a name that everyone understands.
Is the new name DPAA the answer?
No I don’t think so. With the name change – from OVAB to DPAA (Digital Place-based Advertising Association), we wanted to clarify a market position and separate our industry from the OOH. We wanted a name that gives a good description of our industry, whose particularity is to be place-based. But this is just the name of our association.
We have yet to define a media category name that people understand. If you look at the Google searches right now, the number one key word is Digital Signage and people seem to get it.
A last word about the OVAB name change. It has been received with mixed feelings by OVAB Europe, what’s your opinion?
OVAB built a great brand but the name ‘Digital Placed-based Advertising Association’ positions the industry association more accurately. I think that is more important.
I don’t know how much consultation there has been between OVAB and OVAB Europe with regards to the name change, but, in the end, I think that we have to be consistent and we should have only one name to show an undivided front.
Let’s talk about BroadSign. Are you seeing a lot of activity in Europe? How does it compare with North-America?
The situation has been pretty much the same everywhere. The industry had a bad 2009, because of the financial crisis. Since the end of 2009, we see a lot of new projects, but they haven’t generated a lot of revenues yet. I think the business will come back at the end of this year.
In Europe, our strategy now is two-fold: we will continue to service and add more direct clients to the growing number of networks and complementing that strategy with new product and service offerings in the SMB market through Bell Micro and other reseller channels.
Our solutions have been received well and we expect to make some big announcements in the next 4-5 months.