Clear Channel Outdoor recently announced a new targeting and analytics offering called RADAR.  The offering brings a whole new layer of digital targeting to the outdoor industry by providing data on consumer behaviors and travel patterns, captured using anonymous aggregated data from consumers’ mobile devices through partners such as AT&T Data Patterns and PlaceIQ.  This data allows Clear Channel, and advertisers, to see the online behaviors that consumers exhibit as well as where they are traveling throughout the day.  This data is then matched up against Clear Channel’s outdoor inventory so that advertisers can see which billboard units are most likely to reach their target audience.  Clear Channel is currently able to offer data on several specific audience segments, such as Auto Intenders, Moms, and Movie Buffs, but they are working to expand the number of audience segments to 1,800+ by the end of the summer.  RADAR is currently available in Clear Channel’s top 10 markets (including Philadelphia) and is expected to roll out to more DMAs later this year.  Through RADAR, Clear Channel will also be able to offer data on how many people took action after seeing an ad on their billboards.

Although there has been some discussion in the industry about privacy concerns in regards to the mobile data that RADAR uses, we are happy to see that the outdoor industry is starting to offer more data on its audiences that advertisers and agencies have come to expect, as this will allow us to more effectively plan and purchase outdoor advertising moving forward.  The outdoor industry has come a long way in the past couple years in terms of measurement.  For a long time, billboard impressions were calculated using traffic counts only, based on an estimated number of vehicles traveling on a particular road. In 2010, a new ratings system was implemented which provided much more accurate impression numbers for each billboard structure. These were calculated using additional variables, such as board size, distance from the road, readability, and the angle of the billboard. The new system also incorporated demographic information, thereby allowing out-of-home to be measured comparably to other media types such as TV and radio.  However, with this new RADAR system, Clear Channel will now be able to layer on behavioral data, and as such, allow advertisers to get even more granular in their targeting.  Outdoor units are also now being measured each month, which will help to address the seasonality of outdoor advertising.  We always suspected that outdoor impressions go up in the summer (especially in Philly with all that shore traffic!), but now we’ll know exactly by how much.

Billboards have traditionally been seen as a broad-based media tactic, and this new measurement system doesn’t change that.  It will, however, make advertisers feel more at ease that they are more likely to reach the right people.  This all begs the question: How soon will other outdoor companies develop similar audience segmentation offerings to advertisers?  We’ll be watching.