Earlier this year, we started working with Lyft Halo to connect them with programmatic buyers who are looking to strategically reach their target audience on digital mobility screens. The Vistar supply-side platform (SSP) enables buyers to purchase Halo cartop advertising inventory from Lyft Media through the open exchange and private marketplace. The Lyft team is also leveraging the Vistar ad server to streamline sales and ad operations. To learn more about Lyft’s digital media business, we virtually caught up with Ben Shanken, Senior Director of Product at Lyft.
Could you describe your business – the types of screens in your inventory, where you can find Lyft's screens, regions in which you operate, etc. – and what your network offers brands?
"Following our acquisition of Halo Cars in 2019, we launched our cartop units -- Lyft Halos -- in 2020. We are building one of the largest mobility-based digital smart screen networks in New York City, utilizing taxi cabs for broad distribution and reach. All of our screens are “situationally aware”, connected to the internet and GPS-enabled, which allows our network to deliver a hyper-granular, targeted ad to the right audience at the right place and time. Our software delivers content with pinpoint accuracy based on an event, day, or day-part or third party data triggers (think weather). We can also draw unique geo-fences around blocks, neighborhoods, or zip codes to support specific campaign goals like driving retail traffic into brick-and-mortar stores."
What sets Lyft apart from other digital channels?
"First, our Lyft Halo network combines massive digital OOH reach with 100% Share of Voice (SOV) packages. As we’ve talked to agencies and brands, we’ve heard the same concern over and over: no one wants to share space. Rotating ads every 12 seconds may maximize impressions, but it doesn’t necessarily maximize effectiveness. We enable our clients to “own the screen”, utilizing all of our platform's attributes to program a compelling brand narrative that will lead to consumer action.
Second, we are leveraging our experience in building Lyft’s adtech stack to build our digital OOH platform. Our real-time dashboard brings complete transparency to advertisers, and we are actively developing new approaches to measurement and targeting."
What has been Vistar’s most valuable contribution to your business?
"Vistar allowed us to save a considerable amount of time and resources that we would have otherwise spent building an ad-trafficking and campaign management tool ourselves. The fact that the Vistar platform seamlessly plugs into our existing sales workflows and tools is a significant benefit to our business. In addition, we have been very pleased with Vistar’s level of support across DSP, Analytics, and Advertiser Support."
What Vistar software capabilities do you find most useful?
"We have found the ability to hyper-target campaigns down to the lat/long very useful. For example, one of our clients wanted to target 0.25 miles around all dog parks in Manhattan -- this was easily doable using the custom POI feature within the Vistar dashboard. Unique targeting tools such as custom POIs enable our advertisers to take advantage of hyper-targeting elements that only our platform can provide at scale."
What is the one thing that you wish more digital buyers knew about out-of-home?
"Sorry, I’m going to give you two answers.
First, OOH increases the effectiveness of digital spend. We are starting to see other “performance” marketers realize this as the marginal cost of investment in platforms like Facebook and Google continues to increase.
Second, OOH, and DOOH especially, do not have to be a black box in terms of measurement. There are many different approaches available, such as device-level A/B testing for a website or mobile conversions, week on/week off testing, intra-region splits, or more traditional media mix modeling via “burst” campaigns. Almost every product can be measured, you just have to get a little more creative for out-of-home. We are starting to see that highly targeted DOOH campaigns can have lower CPAs than the top digital networks."
Why did you choose Vistar as a partner?
"We chose Vistar because of its scale and reputation as a true innovator in the OOH programmatic space. As a new platform, we were able to take advantage of associating ourselves with the largest programmatic partner in out-of-home. We believe that Vistar will continue to invest in their tech and improve the platform based on future client needs."