Archive for Out of Home (OOH)

Sports Sponsorship Risks Flip in LA

The risk to brands of a sports sponsorship is that an athlete may end up causing reputational damage by bad behavior. In Los Angeles, the risk may be coming not from athletes but from university administrators and coaches.

United Airlines agreed in January 2018 to acquire the naming rights to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for $70 million. The naming rights are owned by the University of Southern California, acquired in 2013 as a result of the owners of the Coliseum (the state and the county) not performing significant upgrades to the facility as required by USC’s lease.

Despite having only one permanent tenant – USC’s football team – the Coliseum’s naming rights are relatively lucrative. Foremost, this is because of the national TV exposure USC’s football team gets, even in its off years. Also figuring in would be the history of the Coliseum. It’s a National Historic Landmark, having been home to the Trojans since 1923. At various times, it has also been the home the Rams and the Raiders of the NFL, the Dodgers of MLB, two Summer Olympics, two Super Bowls, UCLA, and – who could forget – the LA Express of the USFL. And not to be overlooked is its location under the normal approach path into LAX, able to showcase a United logo to incoming passengers of all airlines.

The Risk Flips

At first, the reaction was quite negative against United’s sponsorship. It came right around the time as a number of United PR gaffes, including the infamous dragging of a passenger off a plane and the death of a pet by placing it in an overhead bin. It seemed USC was getting the bad end of deal by getting into bed with United.

Let’s move the clock ahead a year. The United renaming goes into effect this Fall, as a fully renovated Coliseum opens for the football season with the Trojans and (for one more temporary year) the NFL’s Rams. The situation has really flipped. Here is what United is now associated with in terms of the Coliseum’s main tenant, USC.

Less serious than the above, but important to the value of the sponsorship, is a steep decline in the performance USC’s football team. Both the coach and the AD are overmatched, and little has been done to address the problems with the team. This is leading to a feeling of revolt among the boosters and fans. It could lead to the first year of the United sponsorship seeing the Coliseum half-empty for USC games, and many fans booing their own coaches. This could mean fewer appearances on ABC or ESPN, and more on the PAC12 Network. Try and find that on your TV’s program guide.

The Payoff

The bright spot, with the Rams in the Super Bowl next week, is that United may get the benefit of a Super Bowl champion for one season. This is before the Rams move to their own stadium near LAX (a stadium as yet without a naming sponsor).

As we see above, the risk can sometimes go both ways with sports or celebrity sponsorships. With naming rights, which typically run for a decade or more, the period of exposure to this risk can be lengthy – and even start before the name goes on the building.

UPDATE: Adding to USC’s woes since this was published is its implication in the college admissions bribery scandal that made headlines in March, including a key athletic administrator and current/past USC coaches.

[Disclosure: I am a graduate, and big fan, of USC]

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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Out-of-Home is not out-of-mind at the ARF

ARF logoYesterday, the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), in concert with the DPAA, presented a two hour seminar on “Maximizing OOH Impact” at its New York office. The seminar featured presentations by Nielsen, Clear Channel Outdoor, ESPN, and National Geographic/OAAA. While not a broad look at all OOH media, focusing mostly on TV and billboards, there were some interesting nuggets to be had.

The DPAA started out the day by saying that an increase in importance of OOH media is supported like a three-legged stool: consumers are spending more time out of home; there is less use of ad-supported media in-home; and OOH is increasingly digital in both display and in the process of advertising buying/selling/posting. While no data was presented to support the first two claims, it is helpful to see how the association is positioning this piece of the media industry.

OOH TV Viewing

Nielsen’s and ESPN’s presentations covered similar ground, discussing Nielsen’s new OOH TV measurement. This new service is based on using the PPM which is supplied to the Nielsen audio panel; those panelists can opt-in to the OOH TV service. Thus, while the data are collected and fused to the Nielsen TV panel, they cannot be considered currency quality – but as we see often in the media world, data filling an information vacuum does not always need to be held to currency quality.

In any case, the data do allow some interesting guidance about OOH TV use. First, young people drive it – the key TV demos of 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54 make up the majority of OOH viewers, and tend to watch OOH at a slightly higher proportion than they do in-home. Broadly generalizing from the specific data shown, it appears that game coverage could add about 15-20 percent to its audience by including OOH; general news and information programming somewhat less. These are notable increments for which subscribing networks now have a formal basis for monetizing more aggressively.

ESPN’s discussion about the new Nielsen service pointed out that they saw a higher lift for females versus males, and for Hispanics versus non-Hispanics. In the former case, their logic is that OOH tends towards event viewing, thus bringing in casual fans who are more likely to be female. In the latter case, Hispanics tend to have lower subscription levels to ESPN to begin with; thus watching OOH will have a larger impact than with non-Hispanics.

A big question – where is this OOH viewing taking place – is not answered by the new Nielsen service. They just know it’s not in the panelist’s home. Therefore this type of information will still need to be collected via respondent surveys done independently of the Nielsen OOH service.

Another interesting aspect is that by its dependence on an audio signal, the Nielsen service by default only counts viewing that the panelist would be able to also hear. Over the years, this has been a big debate among those wanting to count OOH viewership – should it only count if it’s both “eyes on” and “ears on,” or should “eyes on” without listening count, even if at a discount. This did not come up for discussion.

Clear Channel and Nat Geo

Clear Channel Outdoor discussed its RADAR product, which applies mobile digital data to billboards. Using anonymized smartphone data, CCO can tell if a device is in the vicinity of a billboard; if it’s heading towards the billboard; and if it’s on street with an acceptable view of the billboard. CCO can then further use geolocation to tell if that device entered a particular store within a particular time period – thus giving a passive measure of the effect of the billboard compared with non-exposed devices. Their data (not surprisingly) show that billboards outperform mobile ads only, and a brand that uses both outdoor and mobile ads gets compounded positive results better than either by itself.

Lastly, National Geographic and the OAAA discussed the very successful effort to promote the Photo Ark, a collection of photos of 7,000 endangered animals, and drive donations to preserving these animals. OAAA members donated the outdoor signage across all different types of locations such as billboards, transit ads, place-based media, and so on.

David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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