Life on screen; Who will launch the first truly cross-screen digital platform for brands?

While writing this article, the news broke that Global have followed up their recent acquisitions of Primesight and Outdoor Plus with the acquisition of Exterion Media. I wonder if Global have ambitions to offer the first truly cross media platform for brands?

The Global DAX network already reaches 160m people a month, across its network of targeted digital audio ads. Being able to target audio ads by location/gender/age and device ID presents some very exciting and interesting opportunities to synchronise with OOH, especially as connected listening increases across all devices, including smart car. See previous article about the rise of the smart car here.


Audio is definitely a really interesting space for sure. However, if I were a marketer, I would also love to be able to buy video views, from one central platform, that enabled me to deliver across mobile, tablet, TV, digital OOH, cinema, Taxi TV etc. Also, the dream would then be to measure that and start to understand, at an individual person level, what the ideal combinations of reach and frequency looks like across all digital screens.

The duplication on my reach and frequency is likely to be high if I buy all of those platforms separately, as unique users are measured in isolation, and people who go to the cinema of course also use a smartphone and pass digital OOH sites, but that person would be measured as three separate people by the different technologies today. When the tracking is fragmented, then so are the insights you can gather.

So what is the solution? Well, forgetting the challenges that GDPR and data privacy will likely pose for one second, what is stopping one tech platform from developing an SDK (software development kit) that works via hyper-accurate location data inside digital OOH poster sites, smart TV’s, smartphones and tablets and uses machine learning to learn a consumers preferences over time? The mobile and tablet piece exists in isolation today of course, but could a smartphone and smart OOH site communicate when a consumer passes it and while my ad is in view? Can the tech platform running this activity then track that centrally and accurately? Maybe using the mobile device ID as the way of measuring unique users because the mobile phone is the most likely of those screens to be present alongside any of the other screens, as consumers tend to take them everywhere they go. So the mobile phone would pass digital OOH, be sat in front of cinema, TV, and taxi screens etc.

Think of the creativity that could be unleashed if a brand was able to reach individual people, across all of those different screens, at different times, and in different locations, and then measure the effective of that campaign throughout the consumer journey. Oh, and at scale.

Lets look at an example. I drink a lot of coffee, and the coffee space is super-competitive, so let’s imagine what a consumer journey might look like to Starbucks …

So picture the scene. I go to see The Meg with the family at the cinema on Sunday afternoon. A new coffee flavour is being launched by Starbucks, and they use the rich, deep sound and huge cinema screen to deliver me a compelling brand message. A central platform uses location data to recognise that I am in Epsom cinema, Screen 2, and so it knows I am sat in front of that ad, and the platform logs that as a connection between me as a consumer, and Starbucks as a brand.

Later that evening, on my sofa and in front of my smart TV, another Starbucks brand ad is served to reinforce the earlier message. Another connection is logged.

Monday morning, bleary-eyed from my nightmares about sharks, I leave my house at 6.30am in Epsom and see a brand ad for that new Starbucks coffee on my smartphone. I then board the train headed for London Waterloo.

As I take my seat, I get out my tablet to review some work documents, and the cross-screen SDK recognises my location, that I have seen the brand ad both at the cinema, and on TV and Smartphone already, and so now the platform serves me a location-specific, brand-response advert for the Starbucks at Waterloo station (where it knows I am headed).

As I enter Starbucks in Waterloo, the SDK ‘shakes-hands’ with the store Wi-Fi, and confirms that I visited the store. That is recorded as success by the ad-tech platform. This is where the quality of the location data is key. The difference between walking past Starbucks versus walking in is not always easy to define, but the value to the brand are obviously chalk and cheese.

I then board the Northern Line headed for Tottenham Court Road. The location signals recognise when I alight at Tottenham Court Road, and the platform serves me a ‘one cup is never enough, is it?’ type of message with details of the Starbucks location near TCR station.

Later that morning, I am served a desktop ad asking if I would like a free Starbucks loyalty card. It will entitle me to try a half-price hot chocolate one evening if I register for free today.

As I leave the office that night, the wind is howling, it’s dark already and I pull out my smartphone to check what has been happening in the world while I was at work. ‘Your half-price Starbucks hot chocolate is just 80 yards away’ purrs the high impact ad I see on my device…

It would be a really exciting new frontier to be able to track consumers across all devices, and understand how a
mixture of connections, at different times, locations and on different screens drives footfall.

The technology to make this a reality exists today but it is run by different companies. What is stopping more collaboration, or acquisitions, to deliver on this vision?

I will tag a number of industry thought-leaders in the hope that they will expand and enrich this conversation.

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