Kym Frank Speech at LookOut 2017

So hi everyone!  Last year when I spoke at this conference, it marked my 329th day on the job. This year marks my 721st day … and boy things really are changing quickly in the OOH industry!

Last year at this time, we were still known as TAB. This year, we are newly rebranded as Geopath.

We formally launched our new brand in September with a Times Square takeover, mobile billboards, and favorable press.

If our new Geopath brand is not an improvement, I’m not sure what is.

We’ve built a totally new culture. We’ve completely redesigned how we serve our members. We’ve launched a brand new website. And most importantly… we are developing a state of the art OOH measurement and insights system that will empower everyone in this room – advertisers, agencies, media owners and beyond – by fueling a more targeted… more insightful… more accountable… more effective… and more valuable OOH advertising marketplace!

Geopath is on the move. Just last week we accomplished two major milestones.

First, we launched our new Geopath Inventory Explorer. This new tool provides an easy way to locate Geopath member inventory across the country. You can identify a specific address on a map and then find nearby inventory that meets your specifications. And the best part, it works on your mobile phone! But please…I’ve been on a few market rides with y’all…don’t use it while you’re driving!

The second milestone is the launch of Geopath’s Seasonal and Hourly Explorer in beta. This exploratory tool provides non-commercial seasonal and hourly impressions for the 400,000 pieces of roadside OOH inventory we currently measure. And, we’ll be rolling out more formats later this year.

I’m not going to go into detail on our new platform here. For that, I encourage everyone to visit our booth and attend our Geopath workshop this afternoon. It will be given twice, starting at 2:00 pm, and then again at 3:30, so please check it out! We are also hosting a hands-on Geopath training session tomorrow, starting at 1:00 pm. For anyone interested in learning how to use the Geopath Insights Suite, this will be an essential session.

You know…when we created our new Geopath brand, we very intentionally changed our description from “OOH Ratings” to “Audience Location Measurement”. This shift from inventory to audience… from measuring OOH impressions to measuring people as they move throughout their day… is the essence of what we are building, and why it matters.

While we will still provide impressions, reach and frequency, and ratings better than ever before … our focus is on providing a more complete and meaningful understanding of people.

As the opening video said, by answering the question “Who’s your data? … by bringing to life the attitudes, behaviors, and purchasing patterns of consumers… by connecting the dots… Geopath will empower everyone who plans, buys, or sells OOH advertising to tell better stories on behalf of our medium.

Look. People in the OOH industry have always been the location experts. But now we can be so much more. In addition to being inventory location experts, we now have the opportunity to become audience location experts.

And as much as many of us think stories about mobile billboards and street furniture are interesting, advertisers want to hear stories about people, their potential customers.

I have a quote taped up on my office wall that puts our journey in perspective. It says, “Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.” I like to think that we our currently making our way through the messy middle.

Change is messy.  Who here was at the conference two years ago in San Diego when Malcolm Gladwell was the keynote speaker?  He said some wise words at the conference.

He said that in order to institute change, you have to piss some people off. He’s right. I’m sure I’ve pissed off a few people along this journey. I’m probably pissing people off right now.

Change is messy. Change is scary. Change takes courage. But nothing worth doing is easy.

So, I want to sincerely thank you. Thank you to my chairperson, our Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, and every one of my Geopath members for your support, your patience, and yes, for your investment, as we work to build a truly next-generation currency. We are focused on our mission, and we are more certain than ever that, together, we will soon emerge from the messy middle and arrive at a gorgeous result.

But we have to adapt. We don’t have a choice. Now more than ever, our customers want independent, unbiased metrics. Advertisers are demanding it.

It all started about a year and a half ago. The ANA funded a groundbreaking study on digital ad fraud that found that up to a third all digital ad impressions are fraudulent. Advertisers are spending billions of dollars for ads that are never seen by humans.

Then, this February, Proctor & Gamble’s Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard, shocked the media world. During a keynote address he challenged the entire media supply chain to clean up its act. Here are some highlights:

Even though this speech was focused on digital, make no mistake. This message impacts every channel. Marc Pritchard warned that without more transparency, without better third-party measurement, the world’s largest advertiser would vote with its dollars and go elsewhere. The business press called it the most important marketing speech in a generation.

But what can OOH do about it?

We can lead. We can build a trusted currency that leapfrogs other media measurement and sets the standard for all of advertising. We need to build a measurement system that feels as real as our ads.

This is exactly what the market is asking Geopath to do. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been out talking to folks about this very topic. Here’s what they have to say:

For years, people have been talking about “Big Data” as if it were some magical elixer. And data keep getting bigger.  90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years.

In fact, every day we generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. We are drowning in data. Data crunching. Data mining. Data science.

Data, data, data.
Don’t get me wrong. No one loves data more than I do.

Even once you have all the data, it is often a challenge to turn those data into intelligence. Into actionable strategy. Data are not the answer. It’s what you do with data that make it valuable. It’s the stories you tell with data that help people see things in new ways.

So eventually, the story shifted from “Big data” to “Smart data.” Smart data brought us an enhanced focus on usability and on deriving insights. Smart data are intelligence that you can use.

But data are only good if they are the right data to answer the question you are asking. As the saying goes, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail…But now, I believe we are entering a new era. In light of all that has happened, with ad fraud, bots, viewability issues, and Marc Pritchard drawing a line in the sand…

I would like to declare a new era of “Responsible Data”. The culmination of big data, smart data, and trustworthy data. This is vital with advertising currency, when billions and billions of dollars are being spent based on data.

Responsible data are comprehensive – measuring the persistent location of over 100 million mobile devices…compared to say, 26,000 television households. 100 million versus 26,000.

Responsible data ensure people’s rights to privacy and security while respecting the values of transparency and openness.

Responsible data go far beyond age, gender, ethnicity, and household income, by measuring more than 6,000 separate attitudinal, behavioral, and lifestyle data sets. Instead of targeting women 18- 49, advertisers can now use Geopath to target anonymous groups people in the market for a new car, or frequent fliers, or people who visited a bar in New Orleans to use the restroom.

Responsible data report granular ratings by hour of day, every day of the week, 365 days a year. So, instead of delivering the average annual weekly rating for a billboard outside of Houston’s football stadium, media owners will be able to show what the billboard delivers on the day of the big game.

Telling better stories is what this is all about. And this new way of looking at consumers and measurement is a game changer for the OOH industry.

We are not developing this new platform in a vacuum. It is not an option, a “nice-to-have”, or even a “choice”. Our customers are demanding it. The call for responsible data may have started with P&G, but it has now gone viral throughout the media world. It is a movement.

We must respond to what the market is asking us for. We must lead rather than follow. Responsible data represent the future of OOH advertising measurement. We must stay unified, with our eyes on the prize. And all own this opportunity – together.

Thank you!


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