Brands Talk “Omnivideo” and Authenticity at DPAA Global Summit

By E.B. Moss

This year’s DPAA Global Summit centered on the dual themes of “omnivideo” and “authenticity” during a full day of sessions at New York’s Chelsea Piers. Experts from agencies, out of home media networks and brands, including McDonald’s and Mastercard, educated a standing-room only audience of seemingly close to 1000 delegates.

As Barry Frey, CEO of DPAA, the global trade association promoting the use and digitization of out of home advertising, explained, “Since video is now a huge part of out of home, and we’re living in an omni-channel marketing world, ‘omnivideo’ is the perfect portmanteau.” Equally important, and available through DOOH, is authentic messaging.

What drives authenticity in DOOH is its transparency, since, as Frey noted, “it’s ‘IRL-in real life’ and outside. You can’t hide in the sunlight, and that gives out of home the highest level of brand trust.” But authenticity is also often aligned with brand values, such as sustainability and inclusion, and the DPAA emphasized theirs right up front, kicking off with a brief overview of how to decrease carbon emissions and increase sustainability in and by media organizations. Per John Osborn, Director of AdNetZero, “Start with trying to learn more to understand where the carbon really sits in this industry,” he advised. “It sits a lot in travel… in production…and in digital media, because it uses a lot of computing horsepower.” Next, GymTV and Hivestack chairman, François de Gaspé Beaubien, explained the water-saving mission of AquaAction, followed by DPAA’s annual recognition of women executives via the “WE.DOOH” (Women’s Empowerment) Awards.

Mastercard’s own approach to authenticity and use of “omnivideo” was clearly communicated by keynoter Traci Spiegelman, VP Global Media, at Mastercard. Spiegelman spoke to their need to be omnipresent with consumers in unique and engaging ways: “…The fact that our attention spans are down, and we have multiple messages hitting us every day makes the ability to break through that much harder. That means we need to think about experiential marketing and being more creative with how we use our media channels. …Since you can’t buy reach and relevance anymore, we are hyper focused on connecting people with priceless opportunities… and turn to things like sponsorships to connect on a direct level.”

The company has outlined ten consumer connection points based on “passions,” like shopping and sports. They then offer “priceless” activations and targeted messaging within those passion areas to drive brand love. For example, for the travel passion point, “out of home is crucial for us, especially at airports, to communicate Mastercard benefits like fee-free foreign transactions.”

They also take an omnichannel approach for boosting B2B relationships and perceptions, from sponsoring conferences to using DOOH to spotlight case studies of Mastercard’s fraud prevention or inclusivity, for example. As Spiegelman noted, “Out of home offers impact and reaches your target everywhere. Our B2B story is complex, so when we planned our B2B Perceptions campaign, we looked first for digital and surround sound, then [for the ability] to rotate different case studies to consistently tell the story of how Mastercard does many different things. I really think digital out of home is one of the only places that makes it simple for us to do something like that.”

Having a brand platform of “Priceless” for 25 years has also helped Mastercard earn “authenticity” as a core facet of its identity, letting their stepped-up emphasis on inclusive values also feel genuine. For example, to make digital payments more accessible, Mastercard recently launched the Touch Card, which features tactile notches for visually impaired users to distinguish debit versus credit cards. Using digital video with sound makes that media channel a valued tactic, especially when experienced on the path to purchase.

Internally too, Mastercard actively upholds an authentic and inclusive brand image, from changing its employee compensation to support sustainability, to closing gender pay gaps. Overall, Spiegelman said, they are “authentically” “putting as much out there as possible about all of our products and services, so people start to grasp that we’re beyond a card and that Mastercard does all these other things… And for me out of home is an opportunity for us to have that moment of impact where somebody says, ‘oh wow, I didn’t know that!’”

Another company aiming for a wow-factor through omnipresence and authenticity “inside and out” is McDonald’s. CMO Tariq Hassan explained the QSR’s strategy to not just “participate in culture, but create it” in order to bolster their cultural icon status. Hassan, a marketer’s marketer with past roles at Omnicom to Petco, focused on creating four pillars to influence perception and engagement both externally and internally.

It started with food, of course, to influence “the taste of culture.” That led to launching new flavors such as Mambo sauce, which, Hassan said, they saw “as an opportunity to celebrate a rich, deep Black culinary culture.”

Second, he added, “if you’re going to be in the youth market, you have live in their creative universe, so whether that’s food hacks or some of the things we’re doing in social we’ve really come to understand them better.”

The third, less intuitively in cultural context, is data. However, as Hassan pointed out, it’s at the center of so much – from that youth culture to loyalty – if used properly to create relationships.

Finally, the internal culture has to match the external. “You can’t claim to go after being a cultural icon if you’re not living that same thing internally,” Hassan rightly noted. “So, that’s the true North for how we develop our organization, from the commitments that we make to the diverse marketing world to the way we’re bringing our own folks in and developing our organization. My leadership team is 70% women and 40% people of color, but more importantly, they’re rock stars. And, we’re not just living it, the results are showing it.”

On the external marketing side, reflecting on the changing media landscape, Hassan acknowledged they were late to the table on securing first party data, but are now in a position of creating a massive CRM with their customers. For context, on an annual basis “almost 90% of the country walks through our doors once a year, and nearly 60% of the country once a quarter.” So, the level of that data has changed their approach at corporate and for franchisees, to drive dialogue and to better target those customers. For out of home, the vast majority of media buying now rests with the local coops, who have benefitted from receiving that first party data — and who have been encouraged by Hassan to “stop thinking just about geography and start thinking about managing data signals.”

For their omnivideo approach, McDonald’s definitely embraces multiple screens, such as at gas stations, but it is part of their overall video strategy, just focused on the placement – which happens to include “outside.”

But the area Hassan acknowledged he’s really excited about, and is beginning to test, is the application of AI overlays on top. “As I start to understand and can start to use the algorithm to understand the movement and predictability of my customers, and potentially competitive customers,” he said, “how do I then take that knowledge and not only apply it to this screen or that, but then start to apply it to the surrounding displays around it?”

Understandably buoyed by that comment, Frey added that, “We love that, because the power of digital out of home is the data, the targeting, the addressability, and, of course, also the video — and we’re seeing a lot of video budgets now moving to out of home because of that power of omnivideo.”

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