Outside Insights | July 2017 | By Guest Author

Out-of Home-Advertising Enters a New Era for Restaurants

Enhanced targeting and measurement capabilities are changing the way quick-service restaurants engage customers.
Out-of-home media, like this roadside billboards, have long a popular medium for quick-service brands. flickr: PJ R
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Quick-service franchise owners need effective advertising strategies that get customers in the door. It’s a familiar challenge—fast food diners typically only decide at the last minute to go to a quick-service restaurant (often when they’re hungry or on the road) so how can franchises know when and where to target likely customers? And how do they know their strategy is working?

Until now there were few reliable measurement tools to verify, for a franchise owner, that their advertising spend drove customers into their restaurants and generated a lift in sales. Much of the data is self-reported by franchise owners, and while some can cite lift related to a specific promotion, it’s hard to measure the impact of the different ad channels, and to pinpoint which customers drive the biggest increases.

But today, there’s a better way. Thanks to new technical capabilities that leverage mobile data, out-of-home media (OOH), long a popular medium for quick-service brands—(think roadside billboards, bus shelters, mass transit ads), can offer advertisers a highly visible and, for the first time, measurable medium that drives sales directly to local franchises.

Help from a new, old friend of quick service—Out-of-Home Advertising

A new day has dawned for local quick-service owners. For decades, OOH has been a highly desirable advertising medium for the quick-service industry, and intuitively that has always made good sense. Billboards are highly visible, un-skippable and reach potential customers at an optimal time, while they’re driving by a restaurant. But beyond reaching hungry customers right before the exit for your quick-service franchise, it was hard for quick-service owners to see a direct, measurable link between ad spend and sales.

Now OOH has developed new applications offering innovative ways to more accurately plan and measure its effectiveness—including where quick-service campaigns are concerned. Just last spring, one of the leading U.S. outdoor advertising companies introduced the industry’s first digital audience measurement solution for campaign planning and measurement. The new solution uses location data from mobile devices to measure which customers are exposed to OOH ads and what actions they take afterwards.

Location-based mobile data gives quick-service franchisees a very strong signal of purchase intent. Why? Because anonymous and aggregated location data derived from mobile devices can show a customer whose mobile device was recently exposed to your advertisement has now walked into your restaurant. Since we know that walking through the door usually means a food purchase, a store visit is a reliable attribution metric to measure success of a quick-service advertising campaign.

What’s also exciting about OOH’s data revolution is that it can help quick-serves on the front-end of the sale—determining which customer segments to target. Location data provides rich behavioral insights into the other places your customers go, when they’re not in your restaurant.

This anonymous location-based data includes other restaurants they visit, grocery stores they frequent, as well as the roadways they travel and the billboards they see. Armed with this information, today’s marketers can identify the best OOH billboard locations to reach their target customers. This means marketers now have the ability to use the same kinds of sophisticated audience targeting and insights they already use in their digital campaigns and apply them to OOH advertising.

In fact, one major national quick-service chain recently served up breakfast using a location based mobile data-fueled campaign.

Location Based Behavioral Data-Driven OOH Campaign Makes Breakfast Sales Sizzle

In this case, the quick-service chain teamed with this pioneering OOH company to leverage these location-based mobile data solutions to promote breakfast items at several of their domestic franchises in eight different DMAs using printed and digital billboards to generate an equivalent of 1.7 billion impressions.

The Out of Home team set up “geofences,” or simply put, a radius around the participating quick-service stores and its billboards to: One, verify vehicles that passed billboards displaying quick-service breakfast creative and two, account for visits by any of these vehicles to a nearby participating quick-service franchise. The campaign results were impressive:

  • Average 20 percent lift seen in store visits across all participating markets
  • Twenty-six percent lift in visits during breakfast hours

This campaign was a significant first step for the quick-service industry and an exciting proof of concept for local restaurant franchisees—in part because the strong results confirmed the widespread belief that OOH and quick-service are a powerful combination. For the first time, quick-service franchisees can better target specific groups of customers and understand exactly how successful an OOH campaign is in reaching and converting these groups.

For marketers and researchers, these enhanced targeting and measurement capabilities signal the beginning of a new and exciting era fueled by technologies that harness the power of digital and mobile location-based data. Armed with the confidence that the OOH and quick-service brands are now proven as powerful partners, we’re solving these challenges in measurable and meaningful ways.

Andy Stevens is the SVP of Research & Insights for Clear Channel Outdoor Americas. He works closely with the company’s sales leadership and marketing to develop strategies to drive incremental growth by demonstrating ROI to clients and partners. Previously, Andy served as VP of Strategy and Research at ShareThis, a Silicon Valley-based company where he worked with Fortune 500 companies, helping them translate social data and insights into consumer activation and marketing strategies. Andy is a published writer, having authored articles on the real-world implication of social sharing and its monetary value for brands.