All about the WOW factor!
By Rajiv Raghunath - February 22, 2023
Scott Krantz, CEO of Los Angeles-based WOW Media, a leading operator of iconic DOOH media sites and a pioneer of traffic-facing, large format full motion displays, talks about the company’s business journey to the top, in an interview with Rajiv Raghunath.
You have had a long association with OOH, having started your journey on the outdoor advertising landscape back in 1999 when you founded Mediacom Outdoor Advertising. How would you view your business journey of two decades up to the point where you are today, as CEO of WOW Media? If could throw light on the major milestones.
It’s certainly been a journey. I’ve done several different types of advertising in Los Angeles, from building 500 pay telephone advertising kiosks to 250 freestanding poster panels to wildposting to supergraphics, to 1,000 digital screens in 400 college bookstores around the country. Some were a great success and others a total financial failure, but all were a great learning experience, which lead me to be able to create WOW Media. Without these experiences, I don’t think I would have been able to build WOW Media 20+ years ago.
Under the WOW Media banner, you have created iconic and unique DOOH media sites that today engage top brands for their campaigns. Given that it is never so easy to set up and operate traffic-facing large format DOOH screen owing to various inhibiting regulatory norms, how did you navigate this path?
To set up and operate a traffic-facing large format DOOH screen, I had to be aware of and comply with various regulatory norms such as zoning laws, building codes, and advertising regulations. It's important to research and understand the specific regulations in the area, and to consult with legal and industry professionals if necessary. Having a thorough understanding of the regulations and obtaining the necessary permits and approvals help ensure a smooth set-up and operation process. Additionally, building strong relationships with local authorities and having a clear plan for the management and maintenance of the DOOH screen helps overcome any potential regulatory hurdles.
WOW Media is a forerunner in operating centre read, full motion DOOH advertising screens. How would one strike a balance between creative freedom and regulatory checks when running full-motion DOOH campaigns?
Balancing creative freedom and regulatory compliance when running DOOH advertising campaigns can be achieved by following some best practices:
- Know the regulations: Stay up to date on local, state, and federal regulations, including zoning laws, building codes, and advertising standards. This will help you understand what is allowed and what is not allowed on your DOOH screens.
- Work with legal and industry professionals: Consult with lawyers, industry experts, and other relevant professionals to ensure that your campaigns are compliant with all relevant regulations.
- Develop a clear content policy: Create a content policy that outlines what types of content are allowed on your DOOH screens and what types of content are prohibited. This will help ensure that your campaigns are both creative and compliant.
- Build relationships with local authorities: Building strong relationships with local authorities and having open lines of communication can help ensure that any concerns or issues are addressed promptly and effectively.
- Monitor your content: Regularly review and monitor your DOOH campaigns to ensure that they are in compliance with all relevant regulations.
By following these best practices, we were able to arrive at a balance between creative freedom and regulatory compliance, ensuring that WOW’s DOOH advertising campaigns are both engaging and compliant.
Are there any ongoing challenges?
There are always new challenges but nothing that can’t be overcome. The OOH business is highly competitive and when you own some of the most iconic assets in the fastest growing area in Los Angeles there will always be new obstacles.
WOW Media has partnered Neuro-Insight to study the efficacy of centre read, full motion DOOH advertising. Do you see a greater number of brands opting for full motion displays, or is this preferred by a particular band of brands?
There has been a growing trend among brands for full-motion displays in their digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising campaigns. This is due to the increasing popularity of DOOH advertising as a way to reach consumers and the advances in technology that have made full-motion displays more impactful than traditional static OOH or static DOOH. We all instinctually understood that full-motion is more impactful than static ads but the recent study done in partnership with Neuro-insight ( https://wowmedianetwork.com/neuro-insight/) now unequivocally proves that full-motion is 5.8x more impactful than static roadside billboards.
However, the preference for full-motion displays can vary by brand and industry. Some brands, such as fast-food chains, entertainment companies, and sports brands, have embraced full-motion displays as a way to showcase their products and services in an eye-catching and dynamic way. Other brands, such as financial services companies, may prefer still displays for their more straightforward and informative messaging.
Ultimately, the choice between full-motion and still displays will depend on a brand's marketing goals, target audience, and budget, as well as the type of message they want to convey. Some brands may choose to use a combination of both, depending on the campaign and target audience.
As the DOOH world goes increasingly programmatic, are iconic DOOH media assets cut out for programmatic buying, and would you worry about the ‘race to the bottom’?
Programmatic buying is becoming increasingly popular in the digital out-of-home (DOOH) world as it provides more efficient ways for brands to quickly reach their target audiences. Premium DOOH like WOW Media’s assets can certainly participate in programmatic buying, but they face some challenges in doing so.
One of the challenges is that programmatic buying often relies on real-time bidding, where advertising inventory is sold through a blind auction process. In other words, brands don’t know whose assets they are buying. This can result in lower prices for advertising slots and potentially reduced revenue for DOOH media owners. For this reason, we stay away from programmatic, but we do participate in the Private Market Place (PMP) programmatic because this allows WOW Media to be separated from the less expensive DOOH inventory. It’s like the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”.
However, despite these challenges, WOW Media has embraced programmatic buying with our own proprietary solution as a way to reach a wider audience by creating it’s on self-service buying platform called WOWNOW where brands can search and book exclusively WOW’s inventory instead of contacting our sales team.
As for the "race to the bottom" in terms of pricing, this is a common concern in any industry undergoing a shift to programmatic buying. However, by focusing on delivering high-quality premium digital assets, WOW can differentiate itself and command a premium for our advertising inventory. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that programmatic has its place. In fact, at my old company On Campus Media, we were one of the first companies to work with Vistar Media, one of the leaders in programmatic buying, and it worked well but we were not a premium product. Unfortunately, as of today, programmatic and premium inventory is like oil and water. Hopefully, one day that will change.
Are you planning to increase your business footprints beyond the markets that you address currently, and would you also look at collaborations across global OOH markets?
Yes and yes. We recently added a Minister of Schmoozing and International Enlightenment (aka VP of International Business Development) to our team for exactly that exact purpose. We’ve seen an increase in international business because WOW’s inventory is in the 2nd largest media market in the US, situated outside Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) which is the gateway to Los Angeles, adjacent to some of LA’s (and the worlds) greatest attractions like Sofi Stadium, the Kia Forum, and soon the Intuit Dome in 2024.
WOW is the exclusive provider of digital media in the epicentre of sports and entertainment so it’s only natural that international brands would want to promote their products and services on WOW Media’s network.