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April 18, 2020

OOH Insider - SPECIAL EDITION - Kym Frank, President of Geopath on Measurement during Social Distancing

OOH Insider - SPECIAL EDITION - Kym Frank, President of Geopath on Measurement during Social Distancing

Join Geopath President, Kym Frank, and Dylan Mabin, Senior Vice President of Product (also at Geopath) while we unpack the data around out of home advertising during social distancing.

For quick access to the FREE traffic tool mentioned in the interview, go here: https://travel.geopath.io/

And to have your questions answered by the Geopath team, email them at: geekOUT@geopath.org 

As always, let's connect on LinkedIn where I am most active to answer your questions: https://www.linkedin.com/in/troweactual/

Support the show (http://oohswag.com)

Andrea. Henley's very disappointed because until now she was the only live YouTube episode ever. Um, so I called her and broke the news that I didn't know we're going to be live. If I'd had an option, I would have said so many people just kept asking,

oh, it's so it's so weird. Like getting the link because it's done like a time delay. All right. Let's see post that there we post this here. It was Tim, Tim and I were talking earlier, Dylan, about the other associations globally are also struggling and some of them don't have an option. Like they don't, they can't pivot.

They just, it's just not an option for them. Cool. Um, are you guys cool if I record this on my computer as well, it will live on YouTube forever, but out of a, like, I think I have to ask you if it's okay. If that fire cordial. Go for it. That was good with that. Yes. All right. We'll record there now. Welcome to the out-of-home insider show.

I've got two very special guests with us today. Kim Frank president of geo path, Dylan Maybin, senior vice president of product at geo path. Kim Dylan. Thanks so much for being here. Thanks for having us, Tim. Thank you. Absolutely. So it's been a hot button issue. What happens to out of home when everyone is stuck inside and there's speculation, uh, you know, is traffic up, is traffic down?

What are the, what's the total impact to out of home? And you guys have been working on a lot of really important stuff and the audience members. In ways that we can help tell better stories without a home. Why was it so important for geo path to pivot from the current focus of developing out the platform that you have and start to look at an analyzes data?

Why was it, why was it a priority for you? Right. So we always provided predictive metrics. So forecasting metrics, looking forward to what we expect to see delivered from out of home advertising in the future. Right. Uh, in fact, we just released our new product, uh, as of Jan one, um, for official use as the new currency.

But, um, as this crisis started to hit and truly impact traffic in a way that we had never seen before. Um, we were really getting asked quite a bit. How has this impacted our impressions? Um, because no one could have seen this coming, right? Uh, no one had a crystal ball. So we quickly realized that our 2019 projections for 2020 were wrong and we needed to do something to correct that.

So, you know, my team is super nimble. We're small, but we're resourceful and agile. We really put our heads together and said, do, can we craft a solution immediately? Um, you know, and I know the same conversation was happening with my counterparts around the globe. Has everybody's trying to respond to this very quickly.

And you know, Tim, you said something in your intro, you said. You know, what, what happens to out of home when everyone is behind closed doors, but we know that's not the case. There are still people moving around. The marketplaces, every marketplace has something different going on, you know, the impact where Tim and I are out here in New Jersey has been pretty severe, but in some of the Midwest states, they're having a completely different Corona virus related experience and we're having so, you know, we knew we needed to get to the bottom of those data so that we could really impact.

Our members, um, both on the buy and sell side advertisers, marketers to understand what's happening right now, but also to understand what's happening when things start to turn around and people start to resume their normal. And that's a great segue because when things do resume and when we do get back to normal, it's my own personal sentiment that by leaning in, by, by releasing all of this information, that we really have an opportunity to legitimize and further legitimize the momentum that out of home.

Now, obviously we're all biased here, but fundamentally, do you believe that that is correct? That, that by leaning in, by releasing this information and putting together what that story looks like, how does that help us in the recovery side? Once we get through this. Sure. Um, so we're a nonprofit and we're also a tripartite organization.

And that means that we have advertisers agencies and sellers all govern our organization. And that forces us as an organization to have. Full transparency. Right? And so we believe in transparency, we believe in responsible use of data. And so we want to be responsible data partners for the entire ecosystem.

So out-of-home has stepped up and said, Look, we are going to put all our, of our resources behind understanding what's going on so that advertisers can understand how this is impacting their business. We are trusted, transparent, responsible partners in the advertising ecosystem. And I think that really means a lot.

And when, you know, we were on such an upward trajectory before all of this started, uh, as a channel growing, you know, when other channels were suffering. So I want to make sure that as soon as things start to pick up again, People are armed with the data. They need to hit the ground running and really start getting us back on moving towards that upward trajectory that we were on previously.

Yeah. And to, to, to echo on that real quick, um, I think being transparent throughout the entire process is going to be really important to again, gain people's trust in the information, because if all of a sudden everyone comes out one day and says, everything's fine, everyone's back on the road. They're going to say, well, how do you know?

And so being able to have that conversation ahead of time now, as things are going down, when we are able to say things are coming back up, it'll also be reassuring because people will also be comfortable with how we are monitoring and quantifying those things. Makes sense. So there's a, there, there are a lot of account executives.

There's obviously a lot of media owners partners throughout the ecosystem that are tuning in right now that they see the data, they are having their own personal experiences, depending on where they are in the country. Talk to me about how the data is collected in the spirit of transparency. Where are we getting this information from and how do we quantify and tell us.

Sure I can jump in on that. Um, so. The, the reason why we are even capable of, um, observing this type of behavior and quantifying it is because of all these, um, lovely smartphones that we carry about. And, uh, when people opt in to locations, services on their applications that they use, whether social, things like that, um, there are, uh, mobile SDKs software development kits that are part of the application that help, um, further refine location.

Uh, for that mobile phone and location is one of the things that make smartphones smart. Right? If I'm looking for, uh, restaurants nearby well nearby, where right. You know, are accurate to within a couple feet, that's really helpful in New York city because you've got a lot of densely populated and a lot of, um, high density of businesses and whatnot.

So basically being able to get location from mobile devices and having precise location on mobile devices are as important. But, um, those companies that provide that also, um, Been able to share that information, uh, for other purposes. Uh, and we use that type of data, uh, in aggregate anonymously, uh, to try to derive these types of insights.

It's very powerful information. And so we're getting hundreds of millions of device. Unique devices over the course of a month. Um, and what we're able to do is to find really like the high quality, uh, uh, devices that put off a lot of location information so that we can understand how representative those devices are of the full population.

So on any given day in the data sets the activity dashboards that we've been paying. Publicly to our members. We're looking at about 10 million devices across the country. So in any sort of CVSA state level, we're getting a very high sample rate of, of those devices and we're able to see those patterns.

So it's, it's pretty powerful stuff. Um, um, people are, um, I'm doing all sorts of interesting insights. And like Kim said, people are looking to geo path as the, um, the industry body to be that, uh, source of truth. Um, there was a lot of different data companies out there that are doing all different types of analysis on the data sets that they have access to what our members are looking to us for is.

So-and-so's doing this so-and-so is doing this. What are you guys doing? What, what, what is the industry body say is happening? And so the location data has been incredibly helpful for us to be able to. I do want to amplify something that Dylan just said. So, um, all of the data that we get within the walls of geo path is, um, completely aggregated.

So when we say like we are using, um, our partners at intermix are actually doing all of the backend data work, what we received. It's really only related to population movement at an aggregated scale. Um, we've been really, what does that, what does that mean when you say aggregated? What does that actually mean?

So we're looking at, uh, population movement metrics, really. So what we see is in, um, in Travis county, Uh, people are traveling on average 18 miles in a given day. So it gets kind of rolled up to averages and overall views, um, traffic volumes, how far from people's homes, they're moving and then how many devices are, uh, out and about in the marketplace.

So information like that, but we don't actually deal day to day with any kind of, um, Actual raw mobile location data. Um, it's been, uh, it's such a hot button issue really. Right. And so we've kind of backed away from that as much as possible. And one of the reasons we're able to even pivot this quickly to do this is because of our work in the place-based environment.

Um, we had recently started measuring place-based. So airports malls. Um, and we have a lot of new place-based members who have joined the organization over the last year. And, um, so we had this solution in place that we were able to really quickly pivot and repurpose to do this work on the fly. That's great is it's nice when we can find some things and repurpose them for, for a different use.

So you, you made me think of something there and I think Dylan, you might've brought it up with I'm sorry, Kim, uh, with your counterparts around the world. Where do we stack up in terms of having this conversation for out of home? Are we ahead of the curve compared to other similar westernized countries we have behind the curve?

Are we right on pace? What are you seeing around the world? How much of a headstart do we get? Yeah. So, you know, it's interesting. So a lot of, um, even out of home rich countries where there's a lot of out-of-home, a lot of them don't have any measurement at all and are still struggling to get organizations like geo path into their, into their ecosystem.

So they have numbers, period. Um, but to my knowledge, none of the other trade associations that are doing measurement are doing anything. Real time yet. So, um, it was certainly something I have discussed with my counterparts globally. Like, what are you doing? What are you thinking? How are you going to handle this?

I think we are the first country to react. Um, but also we're, you know, pretty, we're being pretty impacted here in the United States. Um, but I, we will be meeting with our counterparts again next week to show them what we're building, um, in hopes that we can even help them. To navigate this as they're being asked the same questions that we are in their own marketplaces.

Um, you know, the access to data is also very different country by country. There's different regulations. Um, every country has its own unique out-of-home footprint. So it's, it's something that we're trying to answer really quickly. If this had been something that was only going to impact the country for two or three weeks, Maybe it wouldn't have been worth the investment of pivoting, but you know, we don't know how long this is going to last.

So we need to make sure that we have solutions in place. And our counterparts are looking to figure out exactly how they should politically and methodologically handle this, um, within their own. It sounds good. It sounds like we've at least laid the groundwork or what that expectation could or should be.

You know, there's a lot of folks listening in right now that have clients and campaigns around the world. So understanding how measurement here domestically could differ from, um, you know, let's just say any place in Europe, it's, it's important that we understand that this is not just across the board.

We have a unique advantage by having access to this, uh, right now, We talked about how the data is collected. We talked about why, uh, what have you guys done? I know you guys just released a, uh, like a real-time travel dashboard so we can see how this is changing over time and, and, and against specific day ranges, is that open to the public?

Can anybody, can anybody use that or is that exclusive to geo paths? Yeah. So we made a decision to make it, um, open to the whole out-of-home industry, regardless of geo path membership status, because we're all, we're really all in this together right now. Um, so we released it on the 14th. I believe Dylan and it's, um, live and we're going to be iterating on it.

Um, the data come onboard every morning with a two day lag. So today's the 17th. We have data through to the 15th. Um, So it's, it's pretty recent. It's being updated and it's being used within the first 24 hours. We had a thousand people hit that dashboard, so it's, there's been a hunger. Um, so we're really happy about it.

Dylan, you were going to say something I interrupted you. I'm sorry. No, it was just saying that. Yeah, it's, it's available, um, for the public, the travel dashboard. So you can access it at, um, travel dot geo path dot. And we've seen a lot of really interesting stuff come out of it already. Um, so for instance, in some of the cities that were more heavily impacted earlier on, we have seen that the, um, traffic has now flattened out and been relatively stable.

For the last couple of weeks. So we've really hit this level where, you know, we now understand, um, what the floor is and we're just gonna wait for things to go up. We've seen that traffic is still pretty frequent in some of some areas of the country. There's a lot of people still on the roadway. In fact, we had a member send us a video of himself on a sidewalk yesterday, and there was so much traffic.

He couldn't even hear him talking in the video of behind him. As people are driving up and down, um, residential streets. Um, so we, we are, we are seeing some interesting trends still, and you want to talk about some of the, um, the things that we see in the charts like as regulations are happening in. Yeah.

I think one of the most interesting and, you know, we've been, again, people are looking at us to be the authority on this type of metric and we don't take it lightly. And so they're always balancing doing something quick and fast and Kim's off. You know, yelling at me to try to do something quickly, but being very cautious around it, you don't want to, um, make a mistake.

And it's very hard to take a number back because once someone sees the number it's out there and, uh, And so when we were first looking at some of the, uh, travel data, we were seeing some very odd patterns in some places. And then we're scratching our head, looking at weather patterns or seeing if there was some weather event to change here or there.

And then, uh, ended up coming across some news articles, um, about California. And so what we saw in California was toward the end of February, the governor issued a state of emergency and we started seeing travel. And then it went back up because people started thinking that it was actually too early to do something like that.

And there was a lot of pushback against it. Not able to see a reaction in terms of the traffic measurement or reaction to news. Yeah. I mean, and that's one of the reasons why we broke it out and summarize on the, the dashboard by state and by CBSA. Because regulations, um, you know, at the federal level, of course, that affects everyone, but states are handling this very differently.

Cities within states are handling it very differently. And of course, here in New York, the state and the city of New York city are, uh, you know, at odds, uh, of how to handle this. And so. Whether or not the leaders of the government, uh, are in alignment or if even the people would agree with the government and how they're handling it.

Uh, we're seeing just very different patterns all over the country. So it's those unique, uh, characteristics of each metropolitan area, each state that sort of dictating how those patterns manifest, but you can see it. And it's, it's, it's pretty fantastic. When you do see some sort of w upon first glance, maybe.

Look like an anomaly, but then you find out, well do there was actually a news event or a decree that, or a snowstorm, but, uh, that impacted everything. So yeah, it's. I think that's a valuable talking point as we're advising clients in terms of their out of home investment, how those potential changes or announcements, uh, for that matter can really have an impact on the immediate travel change.

Uh, just here personally and Northwest New Jersey. From what I can tell is my new sample size and me driving to the store to get groceries is, is that it seems like. The big compressed windows of traffic are gone. We know that traffic is down. We know that when people still have day to day lives to still go to the grocery store to still going to the pharmacies and that, that traffic's now spread out, rather than everything be crushed into two hours in the morning, two hours in the evening, people are able to get a lot of these things done throughout the day.

Is that what you're seeing in the data as well? Well, I think that that's an important, because the sort of the first party anecdotal information that's out there, um, is, is something that we combat often with sort of explaining travel behaviors. Um, commuting trips only make up about 15% of all trips in vehicles.

So if we just took all community trips off the board, there'd still be 85% of traffic volume would still be out there. So. Looking at social behavior, shopping trips, that's the majority of what most people are doing. And then there's, there's, uh, you know, education trips and things like that. So as our shopping behaviors are changing, we're only making one trip to the grocery store every other week, as opposed to once every week or multiple times in a week, you're going to see those decreases happening.

But there is a significant portion of the population that are still considered. Essential employee. So there, those people are still out there. The supply chains are still moving. Uh, it's a lot of people that, that, um, have the, uh, fortunate state of being able to work from home, or there's unfortunate folks that have lost their jobs as a result of this that are not making those sort of travel, travel, travel movements.

So, um, Yeah, there's, there's still a lot still happening out there, uh, as a, as it needs to, to keep things moving. But I think a lot of the people that can and must stay home have been staying. And Kim and I were talking a little bit earlier about, um, a unique trend, if you will, in, I believe it was New York, that these patterns that you're talking about, Dylan, that we're seeing those play out in a very similar fashion, in different parts of the country.

So the trend is remaining about the same in terms of, of what we see, but it's playing out at different times. Around the country. I'm sure you could do a better job of summarizing what that means. Uh, yeah, so like for example, I think some of the first cases, um, uh, occurred in Seattle. Um, and so there was a lot of, a lot of.

A lot of news in Seattle. So travel change in Seattle first, uh, New York being the most densely populated city in the, in the country had, um, had the, the most risk sort of inherent in it. And so there was a lot of actions that happen very, very quickly. Uh, San Francisco, uh, California also, you're seeing different patterns in the us.

So a lot of those states that, and then cities, that first had cases. You, you saw those. Those shifts first, whereas, um, more, uh, rural markets or, um, some states are now catching up. So it all happened at different levels and at different timelines. And it's interesting right before people tend to drop off, we see this bump of high activity, um, that we believe is people running around grocery stores and.

Big box stores and stocking up and doing their last minute, whatever errands they need to run, um, before they are going to then try and minimize their travel and their trips out. And we see that in market, after market, after market, this has been kind of interesting. Um, and even in some markets that were impacted more, uh, later on.

Where the traffic decreases aren't as severe as they were in New York. We do see them stabilizing also. So the whole country is with very few exclusions is kind of this very flat line of traffic. But, um, Tim, if you want to see something super interesting, like Google, like highway live cams, there's a lot of live cameras that are up on highways across the country.

And you'll see on the highways, there's just. Cars driving all day. So there certainly are a lot of people who are out and about. They just don't have the option. We need people to be doing jobs, to keep the country up and running and they're still out in. Yeah, you just don't get that commuting congestion and the am and the PM anymore, but there's still a fair amount of volume out there.

But, and the other thing that you're, you're saying, if you you're looking at like a traffic congestion map, it'd be a lot of green now. I mean, so there's still cars on the road, just not enough to create those traffic incidents. So as people are trying. Commute times are down for those people that still have to work.

So I guess that's a silver lining for those that still have to commute. And that can really back to your point about, you know, just sort of anecdotal evidence is that that can give us the illusion that, oh, there's nobody out because I'm not seeing as many people because that traffic is spread out. This is more localized too.

Right? You're finding some interesting things about folks not traveling as far. Right. We know that the average person visits a grocery store within five miles and that the majority of the. Trips that are being made or to grocery stores. Is that what you're saying? Are you seeing a lot of smaller, less frequent, less distance type trips for the majority of.

So we haven't yet dug into that. That's one of the levels of analysis that we're currently undertaking to get at the traffic volume is looking at the trip frequency, uh, in different areas and the. Purposes. So that's sort of the next level, uh, of, of our analysis as we're digging into stuff. And we're working with our committees on how to go about doing that responsibly and, and turn that into these, uh, impression metrics that we're going to be rolling out in the next couple of weeks.

All right. So this is going to continue to develop, to develop, um, regardless of how long it goes on for you guys are staying ahead of the. Uh, and we want to be very responsive to the needs of our members. So, um, we don't expect that anything we do is going to be done. Uh, we always expect we're going to be iterating and providing more information as needed, and we want to make sure that we're also acting as responsible consults.

For our members so that they can come to us with questions about data, come to us with questions about how to understand the metrics, how to understand what's going on in their individual markets. Um, we spent a lot of time kind of pivoting this organization from being data analytics, purely to being client service.

Um, so we do want our clients to come to us with questions, come to us when they need help. Um, cause we're here for them. We want them to think of us as extensions of. Makes sense. So I'm sure you're fielding a lot of requests and questions. What's the best way for someone to get in touch with you guys right now?

Is it through the support, email through website what's what's communication look like. Definitely through our support email, which is geek out@geopath.org. Um, and the reason to go there is that that kind of gets distributed to everyone on our team and the most qualified or the most, uh, person with the most bandwidth handles them.

Everything kind of gets triaged and queued up and then handled. Um, and sometimes you might even end up with me on your account or Dylan on your account, depending upon what your questions are. Um, So it's, it's been great. We've had a lot of positive feedback. I think we really did the right thing as an industry to lean in and come up with a solution for what is, I hope an incredibly temporary problem for everyone.

And, um, you know, it's not at homes, not alone. Everyone is struggling. The United States is not alone in this. The whole world is struggling. We're all going to get through it and come out on the other side. And I just want to make sure that we're all ready to go. Um, once everybody gets out of home again, Yeah, amen.

It looks like the, uh, the powers that be are starting to roll out what that plan is going to look like. I know there's some very excited gym owners that, uh, will be experiencing the, uh, the opportunity to open back up in the coming weeks. So we'll constantly be monitoring, uh, how that impacts traffic. So one time before we let everybody go, what is that website where they could quickly access the, the tool that you.

Dylan's on mute. They can access it directly through our website, which is www.geopath.org. Um, so it's, there's a link right on our front page, but there's also a direct link. Dylan. What's the direct link. Uh, the direct link is traveled a geo path.io. So either of those will get you there. And again, our email is Deek out@geopack.org and we're always happy to help anyone in the.

Great. Thank you guys for taking the time out today. We'll link to all of that in the comments, in the show notes below, so that folks can go back and just click that real easily and we can continue to help each other help advertisers and just continue to be a good. Good stewards for out of home through a challenging time that none of us could have predicted.

So Kim, Dylan, thank you both for joining us. If this has been helpful, I wish I hope it has. Please go ahead and share it. Subscribe. Uh, Dylan enjoyer, rolling Hills there. And Kim, the house looks great.