A Spanish ad company wants to standardize OOH traffic metrics using satellites

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July 20, 2021 by Michael Bürgi

There’s a new player in traffic metrics in out-of-home media, and it’s using satellites to count cars passing billboards.

Spanish company Cuende, which specializes in OOH measurement, launched a platform in the U.S. on Monday called MetricOOH. The tool uses satellite imagery to assess all traffic in a given zone, of up to 3,500 square miles then feeds it into machine learning technology to count the number of vehicles passing a given billboard. It ultimately determines which billboard locations are most valuable based on the propensity of the vehicles going past.

Daniel Cuende, MetricOOH’s manager, said the company today is announcing its first American client, the Independent Billboard Operators, aka IBOUSA. IBO is a cooperative of small OOH companies that include 90,000 rural and regional signs (both digital and static) in 170 markets across the middle of the country.

Luckily for Cuende, IBO’s general manager Chris Cowlbeck, sits on the board of the Media Rating Council, the industry body that hands out accreditation to those measurement systems that meet its criteria. And Cuende is looking for that validation, having already completed a pre-assessment phase of the accreditation process.

“Our technology is sophisticated, but we make sure the methodology is simple to understand,” said Cuende, who added that the company operates some form of MetricOOH in countries including Spain, South Africa, Romania and Mexico. “We want to produce something that’s so basic, simple and trustworthy that it works in any place, in the middle of nowhere or New York or L.A. We have a standard denominator across any town, city or region, and even more important, across countries.”

Cuende noted that the first client in the U.S. to sign up happens to be one that doesn’t have as much access to sophisticated measurement tools — IBO.

For his part, Cowlbeck, who’s based in Oklahoma and runs one of the OOH companies in the cooperative, said IBO rivals the Big Three OOH companies (Clear Channel, Outfront and Lamar) in footprint. “The key thing for me is to figure out how to bring revenue to my [member companies],” he said.

IBO operates a listings database and set of cloud-based tools called IBO Coop Speedway that represents about 50,000 signs. “By default, we can bring standardization” across IBO’s member companies to OOH agencies. It’s one reason IBO chose to sign up as a client of Cuende. “We’re going to be able to give information to agencies that lets them pick the best out of home locations irrespective of audience,” said Cowlbeck, who encouraged Cuende to seek MRC accreditation to secure validation in the industry’s eyes.

“I wouldn’t say it’s make or break, but MRC accreditation is the gold standard, so when you have it, no one will question you,” said Terry Carmody, president of New York rep firm Integration Media, which secures national business for IBO and acts as the liaison to the big OOH agencies.

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