INTERVIEW WITH TIM BERKEFELD
The DOOH market in Germany can be considered relatively advanced in the European context. Although there is still room for improvement from a global perspective, Germany is well-positioned compared to other countries in Europe. In terms of technologies, we have now developed the ability to present booking logic in a similar way to the online world. This means that we can buy and book various ad spaces programmatically via demand-side platforms (DSP) and supply-side platforms (SSP). So technically, we are already in a position to implement this. However, we are still in the early stages of leveraging these technical capabilities, especially when it comes to specific targeting or incorporating movement patterns and other target group characteristics. Currently, this is not happening to its full extent. Here, future technologies will help us address and include target groups even more precisely.
Do you think this will be the case in the foreseeable future or will it still take a while?
I think it will still take a while. I am currently attending many conferences that deal precisely with the topic of DOOH. At these conferences, I still meet a lot of people from the previous generation who come from traditional outdoor advertising backgrounds. It seems that they are slowly getting into the subject.
However, in my opinion, more influence must come from outside, namely from new young companies that come from a completely different world, not from the world of outdoor advertising, but from the field of online marketing, for example. These companies bring new opportunities to revolutionize the whole concept. I don't think the older generation understands what is technically possible. They come from the traditional, old world of traditional advertising. They have started to use moving images in digital, but they don't fully understand it. This could also be the reason why, so far, only 30% of digital revenue is programmatic, while the rest is still done through manual orders. I believe this is related.
Expectations can vary and depend on different factors. DOOH can be used in a variety of ways to create sales-boosting effects. Ultimately, it's always about image representation and creative approaches. The specific goals of the campaign largely determine how DOOH is used. Compared to traditional outdoor advertising, moving image advertising offers more flexibility. There are a variety of ways and approaches in which clients can position themselves. It's difficult to say if there is a traditional or specific form for brands. It depends on which target group you want to reach. For example, screens in workspaces can be used to target specific audiences. There are countless ways to create great campaigns.
Indeed, since the pandemic, advertiser requests have changed, especially during the long lockdown in Germany when I worked at Ströer. Ströer is the largest provider of outdoor advertising in Germany, as well as the largest digital outdoor advertising provider. Since their main touchpoints were mainly on roads, highways, and subway and commuter train stations, the impact of the pandemic was noticeable. Due to travel restrictions and the fact that people were traveling less, inquiries dropped to almost zero, and many bookings were canceled. It was a challenging time. After all, outdoor advertising only works effectively when people are mobile. However, this was not possible during the lockdown.
If you compare the time before and after the pandemic, you can also see a change. In particular, the importance of outdoor advertising and digital evaluation has increased every year.
After the pandemic, this trend has continued, and we have reached the same level as before the pandemic and even higher growth rates.
One change we've seen has been a shift in booking methods. People are now using programmatic bookings more because they are more flexible and can adjust their campaigns as needed. Previously, such adjustments were not possible in traditional IO campaigns because they had official cancellation periods and deadlines. This flexibility has helped drive the evolution of programmatic advertising. Today, flexibility achieves great results.
It is of great importance that marketers carefully analyze and link all available information to gain valuable insights. This process requires the systematic compilation and integration of sales figures, subscription numbers, and other relevant data to understand which measures have been successful in the past. Unfortunately, many companies neglect this opportunity and develop marketing campaigns without a comprehensive analysis of past data.
To pursue innovative approaches in marketing, it is crucial to collect data, link it together, and develop a strategic direction based on it. The current approach of looking at individual campaigns in isolation does not lead to a holistic use of data or the development of an effective marketing strategy.
We do not use specific metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of our DOOH campaigns. Our main focus is on the reach we can achieve in the target group. Our main task is to sell this reach. Therefore, there is no need to prove or evaluate that. There are some tools that we can use to determine performance metrics such as reach and contacts, but beyond that, we do not influence classic marketing or other factors.
"To pursue innovative approaches in marketing, it is crucial to collect data, link it together, and develop a strategic direction based on it."
Data protection regulations undoubtedly limit the possibilities of personalized marketing. Theoretically, it would already be possible today to know exactly where a person is with their phone and in front of which screen they are currently standing based on the available data. This would make it possible to launch a mobile campaign for H&M and display directly on the screen: "Hey, Tim, the closest H&M store is only 140 meters away." In purely technical terms, this could theoretically be implemented in real-time. But for reasons of data protection, this is, of course, not allowed, which makes things more complicated. It is possible that in the future, there will be consent that allows personalized advertising to be used in a more targeted way. But for now, data protection has a big impact on marketing.
One example is a telecommunications provider called Oi in Brazil. They once introduced a new product where customers could sign up and then speak a word or phrase. Based on the voice input, their personalized brand logo was created. This meant that there was no longer a single brand mark for the telecommunications provider, but each customer had their own visual identity. I think that's a really interesting and usable story in marketing.
You could create your own experience for each customer with personalized products and also for the company itself. For example, if the Amazon logo always looked different, regardless of who was visiting the website, that would be an exciting personalized story. Most likely, something like this wouldn't be possible in Germany but, hopefully, implementable in other parts of Europe. I think that would be a fascinating development.
Audience targeting is still used far too little. However, it is extremely important, and every client wants it. Every agency sells it too, but the possibilities are not yet fully exploited. The disadvantage of outdoor advertising is that it is a one-to-many medium, and you always have people to the left and right of the actual target audience.
Anyone is rarely looking at the screen alone, and therefore the money is not being used effectively. That said, audience targeting is extremely important. I would use all available data to optimize the campaign for the customer. Currently, the available data is underutilized.
Nevertheless, I would specialize in it and emphasize that we offer the possibility of reaching the target group through different channels. The main goal is that the target group is reached to its maximum.
From my experience in media and strategy, I would always focus on a specific target group. If I have one product, it has a specific target group, while another product appeals to a different target group. So you can play with different motifs and play out different content depending on which target group segments are on the go. Still, it's important to delineate and address the target audience. This simply helps to achieve the desired effect.
In general, I have a few concerns. I believe that everyone, including myself, already discloses a lot of personal information. It doesn't seem to bother anyone much. In terms of data protection, I think politics often plays a bigger role than is necessary. Maybe it's individual cases, and not every company acts well in terms of privacy. I know Meta has always had poor privacy ratings, so they took regulatory action to improve their privacy policies. But overall, I think the privacy issue is a bit overrated.
I believe that outdoor advertising in general will become increasingly digital. This means that existing analog advertising spaces will be replaced by digital ones. The number of screens will increase significantly, and new touchpoints will be created. There are already over 100 different touchpoints through which digital outdoor advertising can be booked. This variety of possibilities is fascinating, especially when working with agencies, at conventions, or at large digital trade shows. DOOH is currently a trending topic, along with artificial intelligence and other technological possibilities. It's the growth topic and the success story. The approach will be to increase spending on DOOH and change the media mix towards DOOH. There will be more programmatic buying. Manual campaign creation or booking by humans will eventually be over, and everything will be automated.
Could you name a few interesting touchpoints that come to mind off the top of your head?
There are exciting touchpoints such as workspaces and fitness studios. There are also touchpoints in pharmacies and doctors' offices to reach specific target groups that you can't otherwise advertise to. I find that particularly fascinating. I just saw someone offering car-sharing. The car-sharing cars are parked at the side of the road, and when they are not being used, advertisements are projected on the windows. This turns them into mobile billboards. The person said that their car sits unused about 80% of the time and therefore can be used for advertising. I find that very interesting.
First, these technologies, especially artificial intelligence, will automate many tasks, making certain jobs obsolete. Activities that are currently done by human brainstorming, strategy development, and creative thinking could be taken over by software in the future. These AI-powered systems are expected to be faster and of higher quality, enabling the development of previously unimaginable innovative solutions.
By using artificial intelligence, we can create customized content without having to rely on generic and often unattractive images. The software can generate images based on the client's needs and preferences. This capability already exists today, and I find it extremely fascinating. Last week I had a meeting where this topic was discussed, and I know that it is already possible, although it is a new area for me. So I'm very excited about the potential of artificial intelligence.
For example, if you wanted to develop a 10-second commercial for a digital product, you could either search the Internet for stock images showing a sunny sunset over the ocean, or let the AI develop a unique creation based on your input. While you would probably only find a limited selection of about 10 or maybe 100 similar images on the Internet, the AI could generate something that didn't exist before and is even more impressive.
I believe that AI will be able to create something that you wouldn't find otherwise and that will ultimately be much more appealing. I expect the pace of progress to accelerate over the next five years, and we'll see impressive results.