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While out-of-home (OOH) advertising is growing, fueled by digital signage, programmatic platforms and new places to post signs, one lingering drawback has been attribution. How can you know if the ad spend was worth it?

Los Angeles-based OOH ad platform AdQuick is now providing one possible solution. It is offering what it says is the first regular performance-based OOH advertising, with a cost-per-engagement (CPE) pricing that only charges when a viewer takes an action.

Tried URLs, QR codes

Although performance-based pricing is common for online ads, where a click or a purchase can readily be tracked, it’s of course more difficult for an OOH sign.

AdQuick CEO and co-founder Matt O’Connor told ClickZ that his company has experimented with various kinds of engagements for OOH ads for selected clients. But, he noted, there was little response when the requested action was for the viewer to visit a custom URL or employ a QR code.

An example of the CPE campaign for food ordering app Ritual, on AdQuick.
An example of the CPE campaign for food ordering app Ritual, on AdQuick.

The highest response, he said, was for SMS texting a key word to a phone number, which is the action AdQuick is now using for its OOH CPE, available for both print and digital OOH ads. The percentage of responses compared to impressions of passersby is still very small, he said, but that doesn’t matter for the advertiser, who only pays when someone texts the key word. Most of AdQuick’s ads are still offered under traditional OOH payment plans.

‘Opening up the channel’

Ritual, a food ordering app, has used AdQuick’s CPE pricing for its outdoor ads, such as on signs at bus stops, as has an unnamed gym for new memberships and a wine subscription club. For Ritual’s campaign, viewers were requested to text the word “lunch,” an action that results in a $20 credit.

O’Connor pointed out that “it’s illegal to put [phone numbers as an action] in roadside signs,” like billboards, so all the CPE signs are pedestrian-facing, such as bus stop signs or signs in subways. The CPE ends up being less than $13 per action, he noted, which he said is “lower than paying online” for many kinds of performance-based ads.

He added that CPE pricing is “opening up the (OOH) channel to a new swatch of advertisers,” such as digitally-native, performance-focused brands.

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