Eric Steinert, CRO of Adspace Networks, has always been in the out of home marketing and advertising sales space. From college he joined the sales training program at News America Marketing selling print space to packaged goods clients and gaining experience with retail signage before joining MasterCard. From there he joined Adspace Networks and helped to build a massive video network with the nation’s top mall developers. According to Steinert, “the moment of truth (to make consumer buying decisions) is in the common area of the mall. We reach the consumer when they are in a shopping frame of mind and cannot skip the ads.”
I spoke with Steinert about his work and company sales proposition, measurement and metrics, the impact of cross platform on his business, the future of malls in a mall-centric business and, looking ahead, how will his business landscape change and how will media change in the next few years.
CW: Tell me about Adspace Networks.
ES: In terms of impression delivery, according to Nielsen, Adspace is the nation’s largest digital place based video network, with distribution in over 300 malls. Adspace Networks is mall-centric, only serving malls and shopping centers, and offers both short form programming content and advertising to mall visitors. The content is a variety of shopper centric features developed both in-house and provided by outside media companies such as Hearst, AccuWeather and NowThisNews. Our content is designed to engage and inform the shopper on their visit to the mall.
CW: What metrics do you use to measure?
ES: We were a founding member of the Out of Home Video Advertising Bureau (OVAB) which became the DPAA. We collaborate with leaders in the OOH space to decide on common metrics and nomenclature, creating formulas and standard guidelines that we can all use. We also conduct independent research, primarily with Nielsen, to quantify the percentage of shoppers that view our screens and recall the advertisements. Factoring in consumer notice rate, dwell time and loop length we are able to calculate the impressions we are providing to our advertisers, arguably our most important metric.
CW: Do you use Nielsen’s On Location report?
ES: Yes, we’ve kept our research updated to be a part of this report. Our 2Q15 measurement study from Nielsen also included the 140 mall food court network we are now representing. We were very pleased with our 2015 results, which reflect the fact that consumers are paying attention to our screens, and recalling the advertising.
CW: How has your part of the media industry changed since you first started?
ES: With technological advances, it has become easier to manage the network and distribute our content and advertising efficiently. We first started with satellite dishes on mall roofs but now use dedicated DSL lines into each property.
CW: Do you use beacons?
ES: We are constantly testing ways to engage with consumers in the mall space. Over the past ten years, we’ve tested everything from text messaging to NFC to serving mobile ads in a geofenced zone. We are now exploring sensor technology that uses mobile location data to track a consumer’s journey throughout the mall environment to see the impact of advertising on our network in driving foot traffic to specific store locations.
CW: Isn’t there a privacy issue here?
ES: There are no privacy issues with our use of sensors. The sensor technology that we deploy only recognizes and collects the identifying characteristics of a shopper’s mobile device, this includes the phone’s MAC address, manufacturer and signal strength. No personal information is collected or shared. To take privacy even a step further, the MAC addresses collected are anonymized before they are sent to our data partner of analysis.
CW: I have read that malls are in trouble. Many are closing. What is your opinion regarding the future of malls and how that will impact your business?
ES: That is a good question. Some malls in smaller markets have struggled, but the stronger Class A malls are absolutely thriving. Top malls operated by Simon, General Growth Properties, Westfield and Macerich, some of our top partners, are doing exceedingly well with strong traffic, low vacancies and high sales per square foot figures
CW: Looking ahead to the next five years, where do you see your part of the industry going?
ES: I see continued migration to all things digital. The days of static posters that don’t offer the power and impact of video or the ability to post or rotate creative instantaneously are starting to dwindle. Top marketers are increasingly developing quality content and advertising for placed-based screens, further enhancing the growth of our space.
From an advertising perspective, there is a continued shift to video agnosticism, where a piece of video is distributed across multiple channels, be it TV, on-line video, mobile, cinema or screens in malls. I believe we will continue to see more integrated marketing programs that will take into account the fact that consumers are more frequently on the go and that is increasingly important to reach your targeted consumer wherever they may be.