How Canadian DOOH ad operator Media City attracts national and local advertisers

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Media City, which describes itself as a non-traditional digital out-of-home ( DOOH ) advertising company, joined DPAA earlier this year. Sylvio Deluca, the company’s CEO, spoke with Mel Stott about the company and the changes they have seen in the DOOH industry since launching 20 years ago.

How many DOOH screens does Media City operate,
where are they located, what is the content?

Media City has 51 digital OOH screens across Canada, almost equally split between the provinces of Ontario and Alberta.

Our coverage in each province covers off both primary and secondary markets to offer advertisers a wider network. For example, in Ontario we have coverage across 12 markets – Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, London, Kitchener, Cambridge, Brantford, Paris, Niagara Falls, Niagara Region, Welland and Thunder Bay.

The content model is 100% advertiser message based; however, we support not-for-profit organizations, and communities by donating them ad space.

How does your DOOH business model work? Do you pay
buildings to install screens, 
and/or share ad revenue with them?

The business model is based on a lease agreement with the landlord for monthly or quarterly rent. We’re responsible for everything including the equipment, operating expenses, sales and marketing.

DOOH, digital billboards, digital out-of-home advertising

Media City’s digital billboards

Do you have your own in-house ad sales team?

Yes. We have both national and local sales teams, with offices in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Hamilton. Additionally, we work with a sales partner in Alberta (WTR Media).

How do you differentiate yourselves from your competitors in
the DOOH ad business?

Our differentiation strategy is based on three points. First, as noted above, we’ve decided to build out our network with more regional market coverage, which includes both national and local ad sales.

Secondly, we strongly support our communities. For example, when Brantford and Cambridge were facing severe flooding conditions earlier this year, Media City stepped forward. We approached each of municipality, offered free space on our DOOH screens to get the message out to the masses, and even created the message for them – which was posted in under two hours from the time of first contact.

Lastly, we have a studio team dedicated exclusively to creating ad messages for local advertisers at no extra cost.

You were the first company in Canada to start selling digital out-of-home almost 20 years ago. How has the industry changed since then and
how has your company changed along with it?

The biggest change in the DOOH industry in the last 20 years has been the significant decrease in capital costs. Those costs have decreased by over 50 per cent, which in turn, has spawned the growth of this category. Today, not only are there more outdoor digital screens, but there is sophistication in how the industry has matured.

You have DPAA as the leading industry organization with a vast membership of outdoor advertising industry players, there are numerous data suppliers emerging, and there is consistent DOOH revenue growth as advertisers look for options to replace traditional media.

In Media City’s case, we’ve evolved from a smaller player to one that is increasingly expanding, and becoming more competitive. Standardization of equipment, screen sizes, and ad loop have all played a big role in making it easier for the ad community to buy. We’ve also positioned ourselves as the non-traditional Outdoor company and we continue to look at doing things differently from others.

What have been your most successful DOOH campaigns?

Given that we offer both national and secondary market coverage, we have been better able to gauge our success in local, secondary markets, primarily for three reasons.

First, local advertisers are quick to inform about sales lift and customer response.

Secondly, penetration in secondary markets is much easier to achieve, with a few strategically placed digital boards, than say a market like Toronto.

And finally, local advertisers have limited ad budgets and concentrate their spend on a few select media options.

All three of these factors lead to a stronger connection between what works and what doesn’t. And, with Media City’s digital billboards – it works.

We’ve also been especially proud of our work with not-for-profit organizations, specifically ones like Parachute and Food Allergy Canada which don’t have the cache of bigger groups. In these cases, we’ve been able to use our full network coverage and raise their profile, awareness and website activity substantially.

Why were those DOOH campaigns deemed successful?
What were the metrics to determine their success (or ROI)?

Take Parachute as an example. We ran a campaign that raised awareness for concussions in hockey that ran on approximately 20+ of our digital billboards across Canada.  Year-over-year, the website page views have increased by 45%.

We’re also excited about a campaign that is looking to increase voter turnout, specifically for younger audiences, in the recent Ontario election.  The creative agency, Octopus Red, developed a provocative tagline “Just F****** Vote” that is running  in bold type on all four of our digital billboards in Brantford. We’ll find out soon how that worked.

What categories of advertisers are the most frequent users
of your DOOH network?

Our list of more frequent advertiser categories includes Auto, QSR, Entertainment and Professional services.

Do you have any plans to expand? If so, where and how soon?

Yes. We’re looking to add another 10-15 digital billboards this year with a focus on expanding our regional Ontario market coverage, and adding in some more national market sites in Ontario and Alberta.

Do you use audience targeting technologies such as geofencing,
facial recognition, beacons, etc?

We’re in the early stages of using geofencing for demographic data and evaluating newer technology options.

To learn more about Media City, go to: mediacityads.com

To learn more about DPAA, go to: dp-aa.org