Out-of-Home the Next Frontier in Local?: A Conversation With Ripple

Ripple is one of the early leaders in the nascent category of out-of-home advertising. For those unfamiliar, this is rich media advertising that is served with news, weather and sports, at places such as coffee shops and gas pumps.

Most of the companies in this space are serving national display advertising, but Ripple is going for more of a local touch. Cofounder & president of products and technology Ali Diab says popular categories so far have included real estate, where many agents have existing video content and are looking for targeted places to advertise.

Here, geographic and demographic targeting can be effective, depending on where the videos are shown. So far the company has formed deals with chains such as Borders and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, where customers are waiting in line and receptive to things that are more engaging than the back of the person’s head in front of them.

“For a real estate agent, it’s an attractive proposition to show homes in a certain radius of a coffee shop where a demographically specific group of customers are known to be,” says Diab, adding that it also possesses the vanity factor toward which real estate agents have proved to gravitate. Local professional services such as doctors, lawyers and chiropractors could also represent an opportunity here.

More Local Video in More Places

With the increase in local video being produced for online — by virtue of local video channels opening up by IYPs and others — there will be a greater opportunity to repurpose video in these types of places. IYPs will realize that local video should be pushed out beyond their own listings, to live on in other places (such as search engines, as argued) in order to drive the most leads and ROI for their advertisers.

Many of these videos can be as simple as pan & scan montages of still images, set to music and voiceover. Like the self-service dashboards of Mixpo, Pixelfish, EZShow and other video producers, Ripple allows users to create video using stock images and photos, with custom text and voiceover. For the categories mentioned above, Diab argues this can be an inexpensive but effective way to start advertising with video.

In addition to self service, the company is developing other channels to sell video to SMBs, and national advertisers looking to target locally. For the latter, the company has partnered with SeeSaw Networks, an ad network specifically focused on out-of-home inventory. The benefit to advertisers, according to SeeSaw CEO Peter Bowen, is proximity when video is placed in front of customers near the point of purchase, such as a Wal-Mart.

“It’s point of purchase, and it’s also path to purchase,” says Bowen. “Think of your average homemaker filling up the gas tank on the way to the store and seeing an ad for Tide at the gas pump.”

More Local on More Screens

Diab agreed with this scenario and added that coffee shops can be even more effective because consumers are literally standing there and are likely more receptive than if they were pumping gas. But in both scenarios, Diab and Bowen agreed that there is an opportunity to go beyond CPM advertising by integrating calls to action that can further qualify users.

In most cases, this would involve the mobile device, contends Diab, who pictures scenarios such as text prompts or other mobile search activities where users can follow up on an item of interest and receive various promotions or text alerts. The ability to do this makes the medium more effective in not only leading conversions but also tracking them.

The key here is being able to prompt users to interact with a mobile service, given the benefit of having a screen dangled in front of their eyes while they are waiting for their double foam latte. This is similar to the benefit enjoyed by NearbyNow in having its local SMS product search prompted to mall shoppers by signage throughout the malls with which it has formed partnerships.

Both companies, if you think about it, are utilizing a new kind of outdoor advertising as a hook for their product and their ad delivery. Citysearch’s new bar code scan product generally falls into this category as well. Underneath all this are rising standards and open innovation in the mobile world, which will lead to more mainstream adoption of the mobile device as a point of interaction with the online and physical worlds.

All these developing models, including Ripple, bring up interesting possibilities and are telling of the ways the online, offline and mobile worlds are melding. Local media business models going forward need be agnostic toward the medium and deliver content across devices, screens and pulp.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. tory

    This reminds me of being Kiosk 2.0. I was actually involved with the business and saw “expert’ forecast of billions of dollars of revenue and Kiosk everywhere in the public domain. Of course, this did not pan out. Maybe things are different this time around.

  2. Mike

    Interesting you say that Tory. One of Diab’s comments to me was that this model might not have worked 2 years ago. A few of the enabling factors now could be the increasing ability and awareness for SMBs to produce video ads, and the volumes of video now being shot. If all that and other local content can be repurposed in this outlet, it should be a boon for Ripple’s chances to make it work “this time around” (ads being fed from SeeSaw doesn’t hurt either).

  3. Out of Home Advertising

    Out of home has enormous potential, there’s no denying it!

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