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Out in the ecosystem: Out of Home America CEO Jon Selame

Posted by Chad O'Connor  March 5, 2013 11:00 AM

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Ever wonder how that billboard you see gets up there? Companies work with out-of-home
media agencies to rent space. Out-of-home (OOH) media includes all media formats that can be viewed outside of one’s home, and includes billboards, buses, experiential advertising, event marketing, and digital place-based media. While just five years ago, this media format was seen as dated it is now becoming rich with innovation, metrics, and data.

Recently I sat down with Jon Selame, 31, Jon is one of New England’s youngest CEOs, leading Out of Home America (OOHA) and Wilkins Media, two of the nation’s oldest out-of-home media agencies. Combined, OOHA/Wilkins represents the largest, independently-owned OOH media agency in the US.

A Boston-native, Jon has a BA in Business Administration from Franklin & Marshall College and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Jon, thanks so much for sitting down with us today. Given the easy to measure benefits of digital advertising, why should digital companies think about having an OOH strategy?
The digital landscape has become highly competitive, and the need to differentiate your company from the rest requires a bold integrated branding strategy.

No other media opportunities are as impactful as out-of-home. OOH offers tremendous reach and frequency and is the only media format that can’t be ignored, turned off, or skipped in today’s world.

Many online businesses are looking to reach a demographic that may not be efficiently targeted through traditional media such as print or television. OOH media allows advertisers to reach their target audience where they live, eat, shop, and play every day. Using relevant research data, we map out a typical day in your key consumer’s life and determine how we can best reach them across multiple touchpoints over the course of a single campaign.

For example, if you’re an online travel agency looking to reach an affluent audience, our research has shown that elevator advertising is a prime opportunity, as it provides a call-to-action to this audience in a highly targeted manner, with high frequency and little waste, near a prime point of purchase (the consumer’s computer).

TC: In the digital age, what has changed? Why should you still do out of home advertising?
Digital media has helped create an environment that limits the consumer’s exposure to all other “traditional” media, leaving OOH the last bastion on the mass media landscape.
Technologies such as the iPad, Netflix, Hulu, and Sirius have transformed the media ecosystem into an environment that allows media to be consumed on demand, on the user’s terms. Consumption of media is really being turned over to the hands of the consumer.

Just think of 18year olds who are watching their favorite television shows through Netflix or Hulu. Think of the constantly traveling executive who is reading the Boston Globe online on his iPhone.

Only a decade ago, media planners needed to make phone calls to only a few traditional media vendors in order to build a plan that could efficiently reach their target demographics. Due to the fragmentation of media used daily by consumers, integrated, cross-media plans are becoming the standard. It is for this reason that there is a strong need for expert out-of-home media planners, who are experts in the category and proficient with the latest research and measurement techniques.

How do you identify where you can get ROI?
The out of home media industry made a major investment over the last five years developing OOH media planning tools and audience measurement data that is on par, and in many cases better than, other traditional media metrics. We now have the ability to measure audience, based on your exact demographic, for nearly every OOH media unit in the country.

This means that if you are looking to target a specific audience, OOHA/Wilkins can optimize your campaign to select those locations that maximize your investment. We can then tell you the reach and frequency against your audience and integrate the campaign across thousands of OOH media options.

Due to this transition, one of our clients recently re-allocated a portion of a television-only budget to OOH. This resulted in an increase in reach and frequency more efficiently and at a lower overall cost per point (CPP). We were able to prove this by employing our OOH media planning tools to illustrate the uplift in reach and frequency through leveraging specially-selected OOH media in conjunction with television.

For example, if your goal is to reach Hispanics, age 18-34, earning over $50k, we can create an OOH campaign that optimizes your budget to reach exactly that (or any) demographic.

What is your place in the Boston business ecosystem?
We’ve operated in the Boston Market since 1983, when we were founded as New England Outdoor Advertising. Our clients are represented by many of the leading advertising agencies in Boston. Boston represents a core market for OOHA/Wilkins, and we are expanding our sales and media team in this market.

We purchase and plan OOH media for many leading Boston-based brands. These efforts return money to the local economies, as we purchase OOH media such as billboards, buses and street furniture in the Boston market. Our advertising programs return money directly to local municipalities through fees, revenue shares and supporting local print production facilities and installation crews.

Your Hartford-based company OOHA recently acquired Wilkins Media, another major East Coast out-of-home company. Can you discuss?
Wilkins Media is an award winning OOH agency that brings industry-leading capabilities in Research & Measurement and digital out-of-home. We are the only independent out-of-home media agency that has made the investment in a dedicated research department that uses robust technologies to measure the effectiveness of OOH campaigns. Wilkins was the first OOH media agency to launch a dedicated division, n2, dedicated solely to digital placed-based media.

From a personnel standpoint, the result of the merger gives us an experienced team of media professionals that are second to none. Our least experienced OOH media buyer has been with us for over five years, and our executive team has over 150 years combined OOH media experience. Having this as a resource is invaluable to our clients’.

Our recent growth has resulted in a 300% increase in employees in New England. Given the compelling media opportunity that OOH media represents, I expect our growth to continue at a robust pace.

Ted Chan is Founder and CEO of Upward Mobility, Practice Quiz and Noyo, companies in the mobile education market. Ted is also a strategy consultant for Boston-based CSMG.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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