Part 2 of our Octopus Interactive double-header! Ryan Bricklemyer, Vice President of Ad Operations & Product at Octopus Interactive, discusses how to drive memorable brand awareness with their ride-share advertising network.
Octopus Interactive is the world’s largest ride-share advertising network. They provide ride-share drivers with HD screens to engage riders through live games, ride information, and interactive games.
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Ryan, you were just starting to say. Yeah. Um, so what brought me to the company? So I've been like an ad tech veteran for more than a decade. Now I've built video DSPs at Videology. I've done mobile stuff at first. And I met with the team and octopus and the conversation really brought to light. This is an out of home product that brings the best of a lot of other media channels and like pulls it all together.
Right. And so you've got the ability to use video that sight sound and motion, like most captivating, creative. You're doing it in an environment that's unique and novel because look, the back of the rideshare is not normally the place you're like, I'm going to get to play some trivia games and experience this current.
Um, and you have the mobile aspect of the fact that you can interact and you can interact really specifically and have these responsive, uh, experiences with the riders that are in the back of the cabin. Like putting those three things together is what has excited me about optimists. Since the day I started.
The challenge and the opportunity also exists because it's those three things all push together, right? It's not necessarily as easy as saying, cool, let's go plug into the CTV or the digital out of home landscape because you look at that and go look digital out of home. It's an amazing sort of area to work in at the same time.
It is not homogenous. When you say CTV. Everybody's on a 16 by nine box. Right. And I'm going to deliver video content over that, that pipe. And it's all going to be the same. And it doesn't matter if that 69, my box is in somebody's house or, uh, in a, in a bar even, right. Like it doesn't really do anything different and right.
Maybe because you've got the background and the, the subject matter expert on, on those sorts of things, like. Out of home talks about connected TV. There's some, even some outdoor companies that sell connected TV to their local advertisers, but like CTV can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people.
Fair statement. A hundred percent fair statement. It's actually. I probably spent five years of my career just telling people what the differences between, uh, over the top OTT and CTV. Right. Maybe just for the audience that isn't familiar with that. Could you clarify? Yeah. Yeah. So OTT is really about the content, right?
It's generally stuff that's professionally produced. It's what's coming from the networks, the people who are used to delivering that over a. Cable wire or over even a broadcast over the top. Look, the internet has made a clouds, right? Is the, is the sort of mantra. Uh, and so this is literally taking that content and going over the top of everything else and serving it down through those internet pipes, uh, CTV is much more about specifically urinate in environment where I'm leaning back.
I'm going to see this content. The screen is 10 feet away from me. Um, and I'm going to serve ads. That television it's a connected television, is that connected environment. So it's a small nuance, right? But the difference is talking about the content versus the delivery mechanism is really important. And when you start to get into the out of home world and you start talking about video and out of home, there's a lot of it that looks like that CTV delivery environment and the OTT environment, the content could be the same, but there is some really big differences.
I think. The, the industry has looked at what are ways that we can use. Try to fit into the CTV box or accentuate the differences and do things that no CTV provider could ever really do. Um, you know, being able to, to have screens that show shorter versions of content, because you don't have the dwell time.
It's actually really good for an advertiser, right? Because they get more eyeballs, they got more impressions in that environment. But the quality of their message can be the same. And in fact can actually be amplified because it's being shown in a more novel context. Then listen, every night I'm on my couch and I'm watching some streaming service and if it's ad supported, then I'm going to see those ads.
And, but it's still the same to me. It's very monotonous. Right. But if I'm walking in the street in the back of a rideshare, if I'm in my, uh, doctor's office or some other public waiting room, and I'm seeing something like I'm at a sports clips, right. And I'm seeing some commercials there. That's a totally different experience.
And I might have some connections to that that I'll recall later to those brands that I see in that environment. So, yeah. And, and what's unique about your platform is you can give brands the opportunity to be really contextually relevant with the interactivity of this screen. And you guys talk about like the difference between a lean in and the lean back moment.
Uh, elaborate on some of the ways that you're able to give brands that interactive component on the screen and then how those two experiences are distinctly different in what we're consuming and how we engage with that content. Totally. So we're able to take all of the sort of data that comes off of our, off of our screens, um, and combine that together with really interesting and Korean.
Creative, right. Creative content. Um, an example. So we, we work with, uh, a company in New York city. They represent all the Disney shows on Broadway. Right? Well, they're not looking to necessarily capture any information. They just want to be able to say when you're Midtown show this ad and when you're uptown show this ad, and we could do some things where we can show a video ad, but you can also have it as sort of a it's a little bit.
Right where somebody can lean in and say, well, what do you want to watch right now? Maybe you want to, you know, see, can I, can I get a ladder out of the lamp? Right? Those sorts of things are possible because of the affordances affordances that we have from this smart tablet in and out of home environment.
Um, we also are bringing on lean back content, as you mentioned, and that's more about listen to, people want to get in the car. I know this happens to me. If I am. Just got off a plane. I get into a ride share, um, hammer through my email as quickly as I can and try to use this as a break. And my break is either I'm going to listen to a podcast on my phone, or if I have the opportunity, how cool would it be to listen, to watch a video?
And if it's not my data plan, that's going to take the hit on that. That might be even better. Right? And so we've got now sort of some optionality for the writer and, and that provides against from some different con context that we can utilize in our advertising. Um, so those, both of those experiences take advantage of the fact that you've got a captive setting where you're going to be able to use this really intelligent screen, to be able to deliver highly relevant advertisements and have that brand experience be something that probably not.
Really anywhere else. It's pretty cool too. And like the screens are really advanced. I want to, I want to talk about some of that. Um, because you know, to this point, somebody might just be thinking, Hey, this is a tablet running on a loop in the back of someone's Toyota Camry. These things are really smart, like motion activated, and you've got some like camera stuff going on, like.
W what's, how's all the tech stuff work. Yeah. We use a bunch of different technologies and, and some of that is to make sure that we're appropriately incentivizing our drivers. So, you know, we pay for impressions, um, in terms of what advertisers. Uh, paying us, but when we get to the drivers, we didn't want to just do a rev share.
That didn't make sense. So, um, our model looks more at how often are you driving? So we measure that via the accelerometer in the vehicle, and we make some assumptions about, you know, if it moved this many times, it's this many rides that the driver does. Um, and then as you mentioned, we use our camera sensor and that really what we do is.
Um, we use object detection there. So we ever take a picture with the camera. We're just using what the camera sees and saying, is that a person? Is it an umbrella? Is it a burrito? And for our advertisers, we ensure that impressions only count when that's a person. Um, we're one of the only mediums out of home generally, but we're the only mediums even within, out of home where you can really say.
I can ensure that I delivered an ad to a person as much as CTV. And there's all these viewability measurement components. It happened on online video. You still can't say like in that CT virus, did that person get up and go to the bathroom? Did that person go get up and go change the laundry? You know what?
That person didn't do. Jump out of a vehicle, moving 30 miles an hour on pretty safe assumption. Otherwise we would be having a different conversation about octopus, impending loss. Yeah. And, and, you know, I think that is again, it's sort of that idea when you talk about out of home generally. Yeah. It means so many different things and there are so many different opportunities to be able to drive to what is really important for an advertiser.
And like I said, I've been in the ad tech space for a really long time. But ultimately let's be very honest. What is the advertiser cares about getting subscriptions and moving stuff on shelves? Ultimately, did you increase my bottom line? That's it. Nobody's in this for branding, right? We're all here to make money.
Branding sounds nice. But at the end of the day, right, sales. Sales are king in and, you know, the attribution and measurement of sales is, is sometimes more challenging in and out of home space because you lose some of the fidelity of, oh, I've got a very specific, you know, unique identifier on a device that I can do all this measurement against.
Sure. And in some cases that's really true. Um, and even in the out-of-home space that is becoming more and more viable, but when you get into some of the complexities of let's also. The screen that you're looking at move. So I can't just do a geo-fence by the way. Uh, you maybe instead of, uh, trying to understand who that person is and what audience they're part of, you may be trying to do things like maybe I want to capture their phone number so that I can do a drip campaign later on.
Right. 'cause that's something too. Like there's a lot of like these little games where you can, as a brand, incentivize somebody, the game is fun. And then I can like actually win a thing at the end and exchanged information. So it's a lead generation platform as well for some it is right advertisers. And we sort of look at it right now as, um, brand awareness.
So to drive sales is sort of the king of what we do. Um, but we're able again, to sort of use what the device can do to get down to lead generation, to get down to how does this sort of fit in your overall marketing plan? And what's interesting is when you think about that use case, you may be capturing that lead.
And even if you're working with specifically the out of home agency, they go, well, we don't know what to do with this. Okay. Somebody who was working with. Cares. Right. So I want that on my plan. I want to know that I have the opportunity to do that. Exactly. And, and being able to have a compelling environment where that can be captured is huge.
Right? It's it's absolutely huge. And yeah, we've had brands do everything from give away a red bull at seven 11 to give away a mattress, um, for mattress and. Right. And, and, and we've had, you know, uh, we've had the ability to get lottery tickets, right. Through a lot of our parks.com. Right. And so there's the nice thing about what I get to do as sort of the technical person at octopus is look at this device and say, it's just a toolbox.
It's just a tool in the tool box. And I can pull out whatever we need to be able to really drive what it is that the advertisers. And some of them are just saying, I need the brand awareness and that's cool. We could do an awesome game for you with custom creative that will not just drive your brand awareness.
You know, it's like Slurpees flying across the screen count. How many of them you see, it's not just going to drive brand awareness for you. It's going to drive a memorable brand awareness something, right. Somebody's going to really enjoy. I might tweet that out. I might take a picture with that. Cause it's such a unique, I was just expecting to get in here.
Pretend to listen to something. So I didn't have to talk to the driver for seven minutes, but instead I had this really cool experience and, and I'm joking with the driver. Right. And that's a moment. That's a moment in time. You're able to engage them with and as a brand, what a great opportunity to create this sort of memory.
Right. And, and, you know, you were talking about, you might get in, I was expecting to talk to my driver and some people hate that. They just don't want to do that again. I'm off the plane from five hours being on there. I don't want to talk to anybody. Yeah. Sometimes I'm a chatty Cathy and other times it was just like, please don't talk to me.
Exactly. And you know what? Drivers are the same way. There are people too, just don't want to talk. Uh, but what we see in w. Octopus makes octopus really special is that we drive positive engagement for advertisers. Drive positive engagement for drivers. So our drivers experience higher ratings, higher tips.
Um, we've had many stories come back from our drivers saying my passengers just said, could you drive around the block a couple of times, I want to finish this trivia game. That's a real thing that happens. And they're paying for that Uber to get advertised to. It's amazing how that novelty of that experience in that novel environment can drive some really interesting behavior.
And it's not everybody, but even the one or two stories of that, that sort of thing, where you go, there's something here like this is we're going to keep going because there's definitely something here. Yeah, for sure. So the million dollar question that I'm sure a few folks have asked themselves in their minds is like, how's, COVID impacted.
Yeah. I mean, there's, there's no doubt. It was, it was a big hit when it came, uh, back in, in March and April. Um, we, our network took about an 80% hit, right along 200% left. Yeah. Um, you know what, there's, there's enough people who won and our partnership with our drivers. We have the best drivers. We're not, it's not, it's not people who are like, I just do this on the weekends.
These are like the road warriors who are putting on part tablets in their car, which is great. Um, so for some of them that was really there. Honestly, Uber and Lyft recognize this too, while there was a serious cutback. Those drivers were actually still providing essential services to get doctors to hospitals, right.
And to get people to get to their groceries and like that, that sort of maintain that 20% and month over month from April, April to now we're we're in almost February and February month over month. Every single month in terms of drivers and wow. Wow. I mean, that's, that's pretty remarkable because on the surface, I'm sure if we pulled, you know, 10 out of 10 people, they might say, uh, yeah, nobody's in the back of an Uber or Lyft right now, but yeah, the data says otherwise, The data says otherwise, I think our audience has shifted.
We're cute. We're skewed a bit younger right now. We're skewed a bit more towards an incest essential worker class. Um, so, and that could be defined as those doctors were talking with doctors, nurses, quote, hospitals, the grocery store clerk who needs to, uh, you know, get there. People are making the shift and saying, what safer right now?
Public transportation. We're getting in the back of a single ride chair. Wow. Right. And they're choosing rideshare because it's safer. And you've got Uber and Lyft, both doing things with their drivers, which were, Hey, we're using face detection to make sure the driver has a mask on. Uh, Uber has a partnership with Clorox to make sure that they've got whites in cars.
Lyft has deployed over a hundred thousand plastic screens to separate the front of a vehicle to the back, right. To try to maintain that safety because look, the reality is car. Has been going down, uh, and more and more people, particularly in urban settings are choosing not to own their own car. So they're stuck on, it's either going to be public transportation or you and I are on the east coast.
You're not going to be picking up that lime scooter in 30 degree weather. It's a bit too cold for that pasta. Also it's under three feet of snow. Exactly, exactly. So instead, you know, it's, it's Uber and Lyft and, and I think that consumer behavior change. It is like everything during COVID it kind of is accelerated, right?
It's people either saying I'm going to move out to less urban areas and I'm going to have to buy a car. And I got to figure that into my whole life calculation, but maybe I still want to be in that urban center. I just have to, I have to get from point a to point B far less. So like distance has probably reduced in terms of our average.
Um, but the actual ride number and the, um, the, the amount of engagement that we're seeing has either gotten close to where the same level, where we were, or even increased people, touching the tablets, more people touch the tablets, but as a percentage basis, now that, and do you, do you think it's because we feel like we're more aware and we're like, oh, well it must be, they wouldn't put it here.
If it's not clean. I think it is that the address, I don't know. That's crazy. I think some of it is, so there's two things happening one, and this is not to two Dr. Business Orn, but we're going to do it anyway. Like we've gotten better at making more engaging, creative. You guys are super cool. Like we've gotten more better games and like have done some great stuff there.
But the other thing is we have learned about COVID we've learned that it is primarily transferred through the air and not through surfaces and the people who are getting in the back of our car, going back to sort of who they are. These are first movers. Anyway, they've already. Taking their hand and opened up a door, somebody else's vehicle they're sitting in there, they're gonna put on a seatbelt.
This is not a big extension for them to go touch a screen. And so we've seen more engagement, um, over that over the last couple of months, by percentage than we've ever seen before, which is crazy to me. And I'm the data guy I'm looking at it going, are we sure this is right? Um, but it is, and we've been able to validate it.
It, again, it's sort of that month over month process, we're continuing to see some of that increased. Yeah, it's pretty incredible stuff. What are you most excited for in 21? Uh, one vaccines vaccines seem really exciting to me right now a year ago. You wouldn't have said that. No, this is definitely a change in my, in my mindset.
Um, I think the other thing that really excites me is. You've seen this progression in other areas of advertising where, you know, the CTV space is a sort of exploded during this time. There's more cord cutters now. And I think that's going to lend itself to saying if I'm an advocate, And I say, I think I've reached everybody.
I can using CTV. Where can I get more incrementally? You're going to have to start looking at some of those alternative areas that where you can take that cool video, creative, that you've probably spent a boatload of money, trying to produce more eyes to be more, more, uh, effective. And I think that to me is what.
Not just octopus, but a number of, out of home companies who like that's the next place that you're going to see video content be delivered. Um, I'm excited for that. I've sort of maintained that excitement, uh, Through 20 for me, 20 was like, alright, this is a weird, the strangest road bump I've ever seen.
Um, but ultimately like we were on a trajectory before. I don't think COVID has stopped us on that trajectory. We're just gonna keep. Right. And as, as the thirst and the hunger for better data, better stories as marketers get better at marketing. And we start to return to the idea of like, Hey, you know, it was single point attribution's is not like a good idea.
Yeah. You know, like, like people actually move through the real world and they sit in the back of Uber's and they see billboards and they see, you know, the park badge, like right. They're exposed all sorts of stuff. And it's, I think that's what I'm excited for. Not that you asked, but I'm excited for marketers to just get better at like doing good campaigns with high degrees of measurement.
So they can be confident in, in, in the plan, but like, let's just get back to being good marketers. Totally. And, and you know, the other thing that I think is going to be a real big push, right. And you're going to see it. It's probably not going to get. 21 to be totally honest is the rest of the marketing industry, the rest of the, at least the ad tech industry.
Yeah. You're going to lose some of those key identifiers. You're probably going to lose a cookie at some point here in the next couple of years. Right. You're going to lose IDFA at some point in the next couple of years. Well, without those, what are you going to do as a marketer? You can't now just be like, I'm going to use data to get super efficient.
Cool. But you actually just really need to tell a much better story and sort of get back to marketing principles. Who is my audience? Where can I find them at high concentrations? And how can I tell them a really compelling story? And I think those marketers who are smart are going to stop looking at individual channels as the way to do that and start looking more across Omnitracs.
Uh, making omni-channel buying decisions to say this compelling story, I can totally do this, but I'm going to mix in some out of home with some video I'm going to maybe buy a local TV spot. I know. I just said like the craziest thing ever.
Yeah, exactly. You know, and it's the mix that's going to become even more important to get. The consumers that people actually want to reach. I don't know that there's a better way we could end off on that. So, Ryan, it's been a pleasure, man. Thanks so much for being here. Folks learn, learn more about octopus.
What's the best place to go to? Yeah. Play octopus.com is definitely the place to visit, um, learn about what we can do for advertisers, for drivers. Um, basically everybody that we work with, ultimately the riders we get to, we're starting to put some writer stuff on there and just take a look at some of the games that we're playing.
So we're a great place to look. Awesome. Well, thanks so much for being here. This has been helpful. If you've learned something new, if you just found it interesting, please share it with somebody else who could benefit and as always make sure to smash the subscribe button down there in the corner. And we'll see you guys.
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