This week, we are spotlighting PATTISON Outdoor - a Toronto-based network and a leader in Canada’s digital out-of-home space. With screens available coast-to-coast, we wanted to understand what makes their inventory and audience unique, and what they experienced during the early stages of the COVID-19 lockdown. We remotely interviewed Jessica Littlejohn, Director of Digital Innovations at PATTISON Outdoor who shared how as a full-service media provider the flexibility of digital has played a key role over these last few months.
Could you describe your business – the types of screens in your inventory, where you can find PATTISON's screens, regions in which you operate, etc. – and what your network offers brands?
"PATTISON Outdoor Advertising is the largest digital out-of-home provider in Canada. What sets PATTISON Outdoor apart from other out-of-home companies is the reach and scope of our digital product line up. Offering digital displays in major transit stations like Toronto, Edmonton, and Calgary, office complexes in 9 major markets, over 700 residential buildings, 15 regional and international airports, as well as 1000's of street-level displays, PATTISON has built a robust portfolio that gives brands and marketers endless possibilities to reach their intended audience. Consistently modernizing and expanding our digital footprint, PATTISON has a unique positioning that allows us to offer those truly one-of-a-kind displays that brands can use to the absolute limits of their creative potential."
What sets Pattison apart from other digital channels?
"The landscape of advertising and how advertising is purchased is evolving. PATTISON Outdoor is proud to position itself as a leader in innovation with more environments and screen opportunities that provide marketers the most flexibility when it comes to reach. PATTISON Outdoor is in the business of helping brands stand out, and we believe we're the best at it. Whether brands are looking to reach high-income earners in office environments, tv streaming enthusiasts right before they get off an elevator in their condominium, or frequent travelers who will see a limited time offer advertised on a larger-than-life digital screen while they commute to work, PATTISON Outdoor has the ability to reach any audience.
We like to consider PATTISON Outdoor as a full-service out-of-home media provider. What sets PATTISON apart is leveraging all the features people have come to expect from out-of-home displays to create the most comprehensive one-stop-shop for our audiences. This includes content feeds that we are continually evaluating and improving upon based on the feedback we receive from those engaging with our screens. How we do this is with our in-house research department that works with a multitude of resources that identifies audience, location, behaviours, mobile and geographical data that better assist us in understanding the who, how, where, when, and whys of engagement. This, combined with a team of digital experts committed to designing and installing world-class digital displays that challenge what is possible from a campaign execution standpoint, makes PATTISON the trailblazer in digital out-of-home."
Where do you see the digital out-of-home industry moving in the next 12 months?
"Digital out-of-home now represents a critical component of any media mix and marketing strategy. We at PATTISON Outdoor view our displays as both optimized canvases for brands to deliver messages and as pivotal communication tools that help our viewers be informed and better navigate their day. We often refer to the notion of the 'Consumer Journey,' which incorporates different touchpoints where audiences are exposed to messages in different environments to help increase the impact of that message. Marketers can harness the power of customization through digital and create these contextual moments at different points of influence.
For example, let's say you see an ad that displays a countdown to the RRSP deadline from a financial institution on your residential or office elevator screen. This will encourage your target audience to perform what we call a secondary action - looking up the institution's website on a mobile device or perhaps at their desktop computer for further information. From there, the same individual will be exposed to the same advertisement displayed on the platform of a subway stop while waiting for their train to arrive. This time, however, the ad shows branch addresses located in close proximity to upcoming stations. You've now created an opportunity for foot traffic and bridged the online and offline worlds by having the person visit a physical location. This was all made possible by catering to different messaging strategies at different moments of influence. It's that kind of customization that we believe will eliminate the one size fits all approach and build more meaningful connections with audiences with far better storytelling on a granular level.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed how quickly things could change without much warning. During the early stages of lockdown, we saw a lot of desire to improve messaging and creative strategies that reflected what was happening in communities and around the world. Digital made this possible. Having the flexibility to change messages instantly made brands connect in different ways, given the circumstances. We believe this will be the new standard – advertising customization that reflects a multitude of environmental factors without limitations."
What are some things that you wish more digital buyers knew about out-of-home?
"Selectivity & Exclusivity. Digital out-of-home, indeed from the programmatic level, allows buyers to identify precisely who their target audience is and exactly where that target audience is located. A complete reimagining of how your budget is allocated for campaign optimization reduces wasteful spending and ensures that every dollar is well spent. What elevates this highly-selective format of buying space on digital displays is the exclusivity that comes from PMPs (Private MarketPlaces), like the one offered through PATTISON Outdoor. These exclusive deals allow for advertisers to capitalize on the programmatic partnerships like the one between PATTISON Outdoor and Vistar Media to gain access to those premium digital displays.
Control. Giving advertisers full control of their campaign execution really is the game-changer that digital buyers are now beginning to understand better and adopt within their strategies. The words Programmatic Ad Buying represents a lot of different things, which can sometimes create resistance from new adopters. Whether this is through intimidation or other factors, we believe once users get into the software platforms and realize how intuitive they are, they will wish they incorporated more of these strategies earlier.
VIDEO! One common theme that often presents itself is marketers being unaware of the video capabilities offered through digital out-of-home. We often see brands and agencies provide us with a static image and only realize they could have utilized video to help bring their message to life. Video is the new standard, and it helps to increase engagement with audiences. The goal is to have people notice these displays, to look up from their phones, and video is a great way to do this."
What has been Vistar's most valuable contribution to your business?
"Vistar has been incredibly valuable in helping PATTISON Outdoor to realize its potential in the programmatic space for our clients. By being an influential voice in the digital space, Vistar has built a brand that inspires those who want to enter the programmatic buying process through a user-friendly platform that creates transparency for where screens are displaying ads, where audiences are being impacted, and where dollars are being spent."
Why did you choose Vistar as a partner?
"PATTISON Outdoor wanted to partner with a leading programmatic provider that could use their experience and knowledge in the space to help facilitate all of our requirements and bring this concept to reality."
What Vistar software capabilities do you find most useful?
"Vistar's SSP allows PATTISON Outdoor to easily build packages, not just by groups of screens but by geography, points of interest, custom audience segments, and time. That flexibility lets us customize and visualize our digital portfolio to quickly and efficiently meet the objectives of our client's campaigns."