Mark Costa - Transformation of OOH: Why It’s Best Suited for Omnichannel
"For the future of Out-of-Home, the growth of programmatic and the continued digitization of assets are definitely going to be the topics for a couple of years."- Mark Costa
Mark Costa, Chief Digital Officer at JCDecaux, speaks with Allyson and Devon about how Costa made the unexpected move into the industry, how it has evolved since the pandemic, and why he believes the medium is best suited for omnichannel.
Together, they talk numbers, street furniture that measures air quality, and look at the QR code’s comeback. Listen out for why Costa believe we can’t treat OOH screens as mobile screens.
Allyson Dietz: Welcome to No Hype, the podcast about truth, science and the future of Marketing, brought to you by hosts Allyson Dietz…
Devon DeBlasio: ...and Devon DeBlasio.
AD: Today's guest is Mark Costa, Chief Digital Officer at JCDecaux, where he's leading out of home into the modern age. Mark is an experienced advertising technology professional with a background in ad operations, partnerships, product and technology. Mark, welcome to the podcast.
Mark Costa: Good morning, Allyson and Devin. Thank you for having me.
DD: So Mark, thanks for joining us today. Really appreciate the time for joining us on the show. You've had quite the career in the marketing world thus far. Can you just give us a little bit of the lay of the land, in terms of your path to where you started right out of college, and how you got to working at JCDecaux?
MC: Absolutely. It's been a fun roller coaster, to say the least, but it's been an exciting journey for me, personally. I graduated in computer science from Goa University, so I grew up in this state called Goa, which is on the West coast of India. And sort of my first job out of college was working as a developer for a point of sales systems for a company that produced photo films. But my first foray into advertising specifically was when I joined a startup in San Francisco called Zedo. Zedo was an ad server, primarily targeting customers of Double Click, if we remember that name. And I was one of the developers on the ad serving engine. And that was, I think, one of the best starts I could experience for a journey into advertising because when you work for a startup, you obviously wear a lot of hats.
But obviously, transition from my experience at Zedo to the ad network space where I work for a company called Undertone. Undertone still is around, they're part of Perion, and known for their large-scale format ads. And my 10 years at Undertone I had the honor to really get a breadth of experience, whether that was in the ad operations team, or the product and technology team, or the partnerships team. It really helped sort of hone in my understanding of the advertising space, but obviously through the lens of different activities or teams within that company. I think that really got me ready for my journey into a demand side platform called Run. That was acquired by Publicis, or Starcom at that point in time, and I was brought onboard to really help scale their ad operations team and their partnerships team. And that was actually my first journey into working for the buyer side, working for an agency.
And up until then, I was always in the digital media space and one day I got a phone call that I was happy I took, that talked about the out of home space. And I'm looking out of my window and I'm looking at a billboard and that was very intriguing. A few months later, I started my career at JCDecaux and it's been five years since then and it's been five years that have gone by very quickly, but it's been an amazing journey because the out of home space is one where I keep learning new things about the medium. But it's one that has allowed me to leverage all of the learnings that I had from my online advertising days and apply it to this new medium.
DD: So you never had like an inkling to be in the out of home world? I mean, I think all of us has drive past billboards and like always wondered like what do you have to wear to go up in that thing? To like actually put it up using those big like whatever, like mops they use to put it up. But now it's like transforming into a whole new... like that's just a huge TV that I'm driving past that has all this crazy stuff. Now all of us are in the know, so we actually know all the crazy stuff that happens on the backend. Like you didn't really have that initial kind of inkling to do it. Did you have any interest in out of home other than just seeing it in your normal life? I know you said you saw the billboard outside of the... It was literally a sign, in all forms of the term, after you got that call. But was it something that you just kind of why not? Or did you have like kind of an interest in it prior?
MC: All mediums are interesting and out of home was definitely one that I, obviously as a consumer, was very interested in. I didn't think I would be in this space to be very transparent. But I'm glad I did because I think the time was right, from the perspective of what I was brought into do and what the space was ready for. And that brings me back to that word of transformation. digital out of home is where everybody's sort of looking at in terms of the future of this medium. And does that mean everything will get digitized? Probably not. But I think some really key signage, locations, and things of that nature will get digitized to a point which then allows for those digital moments in a consumer's daily journey, right? Because obviously if something's digital and it's connected to a wire, it becomes addressable to a certain extent. And that's sort of the data transformation journey to support the digital transformation journey that this medium has gone through. So didn't ever think about working for a company that would deal with billboards and the term that we call street furniture, that might be new to you. But I'm glad I did. No regrets.
AD: So you mentioned the rise of digital and you're obviously talking about the exciting aspects of digital and we want to make sure we touch on that. But before we do, I think it's important to sort of talk about this concept or this idea that with the rise of digital, many people have said that traditional advertising mediums would become less important. Some people even use the word "dead". How would you respond to that?
MC: They were wrong. I have two ways to answer that question. One is let's look at the numbers, right? So it was the tail end of 2019, a report was put out by the OAAA, which is the Outdoor Advertising Association of Americas, that is... a big component of the out of home ecosystem. And so the report that they put out was the out of home industry in the US grew to a record 8.6 billion, which was a huge growth in 2019. I think it was 7% growth compared to the prior year, but it was also 40 consecutive quarters of growth. And so if you just think about that statement, I think that helps you understand why I felt whoever made the prior statement was wrong.
Obviously, let's... not ignore the elephant in the room, the pandemic. That did disrupt that growth that we all were experiencing at a high. But as I was sort of chatting with Devin earlier, this has been an exciting time for us because we're coming out of that little bit of slump that we had as an industry and the rebound is really amazing. I can sort of maybe bring up a recent Magna report that said within linear media, out of home will show the highest growth, approximately 11%, over 2020. And I think they are projecting 9% for 2022. So... the numbers really tell the story of the importance of out of home within the traditional advertising mediums and how brands are validating that medium as it pertains to spend. Anecdotally, speaking of the recovery, New York as a market is at pre-2019 audience levels and revenue levels to some extent. So if anything, that validates the confidence that brands have in the medium. So that's really exciting.
The other way to answer that question, if I may, is if you look at who are some of the biggest spenders in out of home, it is the major digital players that we all are consumers of. Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, right? These are all digital players that have digital advertising platforms, yet they spend a lot of money in out of home. That, I think, is the best testament we can have to the success and the importance of the medium to the media x.
DD: Obviously, the rapid kind of comeback and regrowth of out of home and digital out of home, you're still kind of in the thick of it now. I'm assuming you're still seeing all of that continue to rise up. Was it major cities first that you saw the biggest kind of snap back? It's just such an interesting thing to me because, obviously, JCD is a Europe based initial company, right? French based company that is now really sinking their teeth into North America. And so maybe you can answer this question from a global standpoint, but was it that you saw rural areas that JCD has street furniture in kind of still stay up and running? And all the CDs went down pretty quickly and then they came back up. Can you just give me a lay of the land from a regional standpoint, urban versus rural, in terms of how you saw that bounce back? If you have that info.
MC: Absolutely. I can. And what I'll do is maybe give you the industry perspective as opposed to just a logistical perspective because truth be told, everybody was in the same boat, right? And not just the out of home industry. I think we saw similar challenges in all media channels. At least initially when we all went into lockdown, right? There was obviously lots of budget changes right away. And to your point about that transformation, or I should say that impact, it really varied depending on the environment the signage was in, whether that was digital or non-digital, right? Certain indoor environments may have been more impacted that outdoor environments for obvious reasons because nobody was either transiting to them or visiting them, right?
And then if you look at the outdoor environments... So in an outdoor environment, you obviously have billboards and street furniture, things of that nature. It really then depended on where did the people move to? Think New York is an example. You had midtown New York have a change in the audience profile. A lot of folks who were typically in Midtown moved to the Upper West or the Upper East or the lower sort of sections of Manhattan. So while the audience wasn't technically lost completely, they moved and that's why data was really important during this time, to understand where did the audience move to. So then you could appropriately respond to advertisers who still wanted to maintain a presence during the pandemic. Chicago is an example, saw that loss in its downtown loop as an example and a lot of it went maybe into the suburbs. So I think it changed depending on, obviously, the DMA that you're in and sort of what was happening in that DMA as it relates to the lockdown conditions or were you allowed to go into a restaurant or not, things of that nature.
But then the recovery has been, in many ways, interesting. I would say billboards saw the largest recovery because people are on the move and driving a lot. And then obviously the cities have come back as cities have returned to a sense of normalcy in various places. And then, certain sections might be different from... depending on where the audience is.
AD: Yeah. It's interesting to hear you talk about that regionality associated with this medium because one of the things that we were interested in, and Devin touched on this a second ago, is about the global nature of this medium because there is such a global visibility and it is such a global medium. So I'm curious. How does out of home advertising differ across the globe? Are there things that maybe the established markets can learn from the developing world and vice versa? I think it would be interesting to hear your perspective on the global status of the medium.
MC: Absolutely. I think the most obvious differences are just in terms of signage, right? Some markets have some excellent signage in certain places that is digital and really large format and really beautiful and encompassing. But putting aside those obvious consumer sort of focused differences that we may experience across markets, one of the important things that we may not recognize or realize is the share that out of home has in the medium x. It does differ country by country. In the US, out of home is in the 4%, 4.5% range of media spend. In the EU and the UK, it is around between 8 and 10. And France is maybe at the higher level of 10. In Asia, it might be double digits. And that's an interesting differentiator because at the end of the day, we're all selling a very similar screen in very similar environments. But it's interesting to see how the adoption of the medium in the bucket of what its share is does differ. Another thing that might differ is the digital.
AD: Wait, sorry. Can I double click on a question that... Does the percentage of digital versus more traditional... I think that that would be so interesting to see. In Asia, for example, I would expect a high percentage [crosstalk 00:17:47].
MC: It varies and digitization, depending on where it is, has a tie in to regulation. What I mean by that is if you are in an indoor environment, you probably have digital consistency across various locations across the globe. Because in indoor environments, you pretty much would follow the rules and regulations of that environment.
But when you're in the outdoor space, regulations do differ. City, country, things of that nature. The US is obviously a lot more open to digitization in the outdoor environment with obvious rule sets and things of that nature that you have to follow. But in some countries, you still are not allowed to have a digital screen in an outdoor environment. And that may change over time because it's all about helping city regulators.
DD: What country doesn't allow an out... Do you have an example of where they don't allow it?
MC: As an example, there are pockets in some European countries that still may not allow a large percent of digital outdoor. And that's because it's under a city contract. If it's under a private contract, there might be come exceptions to that. But there are [crosstalk 00:19:01]-
DD: We see that in certain-
MC: ... to your point earlier.
DD: And there's pockets even in America, right? Where certain legislative areas of certain like rural areas don't even allow out of home at all, right?
MC: Yeah, yeah.
DD: Because they don't want... Yeah, okay.
AD: Let's not go down that political...
MC: No, no, but not even bringing politics into this, but just as a form of acceptance of the digital outdoor experience. We have some cities that are comfortable with the digital experience, but may not be comfortable with the content that runs through that digital screen. They may want it to be static, as an example. You're aware that billboards, while they're digital, they have to be static. You can't have mobile content because of a federal regulation. And obviously, Times Square is the carve out from that, right? You can have mobile stuff in Times Square from an animation, video perspective. When it comes to outdoor street environments, some of our cities allow us to have full motion video. Some of them... sort of a slow motion video and then some of them, no video at all. So it, again, goes back to my point about regulation and acceptance by the city to get comfortable with that.
AD: That makes sense. So what other out of home trends are you seeing that also present growth opportunities for brands in this changed world?
MC: I think the biggest trend, which is what I think excites brands, personally, is the growth of digital out of home. Because obviously with digital, you can then... take advantage of a lot of the things that are helping shape up the space today. The sophistication of what data can do to your planning process and measurement process. Digital also enables programmatic as an execution strategy, which can sort of tee into an omni-channel strategy as well really, really well. An example of brands leveraging the medium really well is the DTC category. This is one category that I'm amazed that have embraced out of home really, really well.
AD: That's surprising because you would've expected that there would be a difference between that virtual experience of buying online and having an ad being placed in an external environment.
MC: And I think the reason is typically, you'll have a lot of retail establishments use outdoor advertising to drive for traffic. The reason why DTC brands want an outdoor presence is DTC brands think of out of home as their virtual storefront and it drives traffic online.
DD: Yeah. And disruption, too.
DD: Disruption, yeah.
AD: I mean, you could buy it on your phone right there.
MC: Absolutely. The ad can have a QR code and I think all of us have gone through that experience of the resurgence of the QR code. More specifically, now in the pandemic when you go to a restaurant and you can't see a menu anymore and you have to use a QR code. So in some ways, that's-
DD: That is so funny, yeah.
AD: Who would have thought the QR code would have a moment in 2021?
DD: The QR code's back.
AD: I don't think I would have guessed. I know!
DD: Also like when did it occur... And this is just like, sorry, as sidebar. When did our cameras, if you have... I have an iPhone. When was it that your camera now automatically recognizes a QR code? Remember back in the day when QR codes existed? You had to download a QR reader and there was all these different competitive QR readers and they were always filled with ads. Like does anyone remember when your phone was able to just recognize a QR code? Because I have no idea.
MC: It was definitely 2019. It was sometime in that. And I've been paying attention to that.
DD: That seems a little suspect.
AD: Mark knows. Mark knows that answer.
MC: It was definitely 2019 when iOS enabled it by default on their camera and then Google did it in their smart sort of lens as well.
DD: It's like they knew.
MC: And I'm glad they did because that just made it very easy to deal with what we have all been dealing with, right? So thank goodness they did that and obviously, that helps in a digital context or in a poster context. You will see a lot of QR codes on outdoor advertising today.
AD: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Especially if you're waiting for the bus. I mean, we're all city people so if you're waiting for the bus and you know that bus isn't coming for another seven minutes, why not make a purchase on your phone right then and there?
MC: Why not buy the gaming console that I want?
AD: Now we know what Mark's been doing with his time. So one of the other things we were interested in is we're talking a lot about digital and this evolution to digital. So how has out of home evolved to become digital out of home? That's a term that people are throwing around a lot. What pieces of the programmatic and ad tech world have you been able to take advantage of?
MC: Yeah. I think the best way to think about that is a lot that has happened in this space. Obviously at JCDecaux, globally, in the US, and in the industry as well is the presence of capabilities that are helping make our medium at parody with what you would consider mainstream digital, right? And what I primarily mean by that is the data driven capabilities. It's allowing brands to plan an out of home campaign using not just third party data but first party data. Thank you, Neustar. You have been a great partner for us in that exercise. But taking it a step further, bringing in DCO capabilities and really leveraging the power of dynamic in a digital screen to contextualize that messaging and creative to brands.
And then more importantly, making sure that brands continue to have confidence in the medium by helping prove to them that it did meet and deliver to their KPI. So that DTC sort of statement that I made earlier, we actually have a silver award winning case study for a brand called Zenni that sells eyewear online. And we leveraged measurement capabilities today to help prove to them that exposure to out of home drove website visitation and website sales as compared to somebody that wasn't exposed. And so I think it's these kinds of capabilities that are data driven... are allowing brands and media buyers and planners to think about out of home through the same lens that they would a mobile or desktop banner or a video execution.
And then taking it a step further, programmatic is now making the accessibility of that medium feel like hey, it's just... I'm logging into my DSP and I'm going to buy out of home like I do my mobile campaign, right? I think these two, the data driven piece and the programmatic piece, is what is really making our medium be at parody to allow folks and the larger swath of mainstream buyers... access and be comfortable with buying our medium.
DD: So, Allyson and I have two different kind of areas of expertise at Neustar. I focus a lot on like the data identity, media side of the industry. Allyson focuses on like the measurement, analytic side. So you've kind of uncovered a little bit of an area I'd like to kind of double click into or dive into a little bit more that we can each focus on our specific areas of expertise. So can you just unpack a little bit in terms of the types of characteristics or behaviors or data points that you can now make available to your client base to allow them to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their buys when they want to, essentially, generate impressions across digital out of home advertisements?
MC: I would say it's very consistent with what they might have when they're buying a mobile ad.
DD: So you would say that digital ads... Sorry, not to interrupt you. But you'd say digital out of home is now closer to mobile and people are thinking about it like a mobile execution or mobile campaign?
MC: I wouldn't say they're thinking about it as a mobile ad, just that clear distinction there. But they would be able to execute it, and by it I mean a programmatic out of home buy, in a similar fashion to a programmatic mobile buy or a programmatic video buy, right?
MC: Because to your question about what are some of the trigger points they have available to them in their demand side platform to make the right buy, to find the right screen is sort of the similar logic you would use to find the right space on a mobile ad, right? You have audience data points, you have day part data points, you have environmental trigger points like weather or the stock exchange or anything that is... any data source that can be used an addition point that is an API can typically can feed a DSPs decision engine to say, "I want to buy when this thing happens," right? A specific sports score, as an example, might be a trigger point to launch... an advertising campaign to congratulate the winner, as an example, right? And so essentially, a trader in a demand side platform today has access to similar capabilities to trigger the buying of digital out of home through that lens.
And I think that's the important distinction. I don't think it's good to treat an out of home screen as a mobile screen. There are similarities, but there are a lot of differences and that's why creative is one of the most important distinctions. That if a brand wanted advice on what's the most important thing to have a successful campaign, I would say creative. Don't just take your digital ad and throw it on a screen. It may always... never work. And for a variety of reasons. But creative, I think, is where there's a lot of opportunity to allow buyers to leverage the space more efficiently.
DD: So what type of signal are you able to get from... I mean, obviously you talked about like exogenous factors like weather or things that are happening with a sports score. That's obviously going to generate some level of a creative application to any particular billboard, right? Or out of home or street furniture. But in terms of like customer, consumer based data, what types of signal are you able to collect?
MC: Yeah. Those signals that demand side platforms might have primarily might be location intelligence driven. Because if you think about the out of home ad space... what it has in common with a mobile ad is it typically is originating from a specific latitude, longitude, right? Because there's a sign at a pretty close street corner and mostly that signage doesn't move. Obviously, we have signage that moves as well and so that's a dynamic location. But typically, a lot of the audience decision points that a demand side platform might leverage today to decide, "Should I buy this screen?" Because at this time of the day, it has or it has shown a higher presence of business decision makers because it happens to be A, a screen in a key business district. Or it is a screen that represents Gen Z movie theater goers because that screen is in a location that is well known for that kind of audience. Or it really doesn't matter where that screen is because the mobile location intelligence has shown that these audiences tend to flow through there because that may be a specific hub or a specific transit point, right?
I think the mobile location intelligence data point is one that might be influencing in helping a brand understand where they should place their buys. Not taking away some of the more basic and I would say consistent and standard executions, which is proximity to something. Sometimes, the best way to get an out of home execution is proximity to a competitors store or your own store. Or proximity to some locations that are, quote unquote, "proxies" for who you're trying to reach and sometimes they're very good proxies, right? So proximity based targeting or a mobile location, derived audience targeting... tying that back to either third party data or first party data to get a sense of the propensity or index for that audience at that signage at varying points of the day or days of the week is what I think is really fueling some of these decision points today.
AD: So, Devin will talk to you all day about the data and the mechanics of how the ad ecosystem works. But I want to go back to something that you said a second ago, which was talking... when you were talking about the creative and mobile versus digital out of home, for example. I'm just curious. How are you seeing brands using out of home in their omni-channel strategy? How do you see it working in conjunction with other channels? If you take that mobile example, but other channels, how do you see it working together as part of that ecosystem and as part of the strategy
MC: We're definitely seeing brands pay close attention to omni-channel executions today. Specifically because they might be executing a strategy across multiple media and so they want to have either a storyboarding experience, they want to have consistent messaging, or they want to allow for the appropriate call to action based on the medium that message of creative is delivered on. So from my perspective, out of home is best suited to fit into that omni-channel experience because its ubiquitousness. Out of home media is available in pretty much every moment of the day for a consumer's journey. You will see an out of home ad in your transit to work. You will see an out of home ad maybe at your workspace through some of the facilities that you have to kind of got through to get to your workspace. You may see it when you take a break for the gym. You may see it at a transit stop or if you decide to fly through an airport. You may see it at a bar in the evening. Or if you go to the theater, things of that nature. So because out of home provides for these opportunities or the potential moments for a brand to interact with that consumer, I think it's really well suited for this omni-channel experience because you can, in many ways, create those storyboarding moments of engagement, right?
And then obviously, the creative is really important because now you want to pay attention to what creative message you display on a mobile form versus what you display on a screen. And factor in how consumers consume those experiences and allow them to interact it in different ways. You might click it, on an ad on your screen on your phone, but it might be a QR code, going back to our conversation, on the screen that you might want to sort of interact with. And then the other point about omni-channel is, again going back programmatic, I think the rise of programmatic in digital out of home is helping with some of the executional aspects of the omni-channel experience because you might, as a buyer, be using one platform to execute that entire strategy.
AD: So you talked about using the channels in different ways. So I guess one of the things that I'm... As Devin mentioned, I focus on analytics. So I'm naturally going to think about how do you optimize out of home versus these other channels? What KPIs do you find brands are using to measure their performance? And how do you see out of home's performance differ versus other media channels for your clients?
MC: Yeah. I think typically, folks tend to think of out of home as the channel they would lean on to help drive top of the funnel metrics. And so that's... brand awareness, consideration, intent. All of the metrics that are sort of essential to sew the seeds of driving a key brand message, right? You don't wake up tomorrow morning and just buy a Mercedes. That has been...
AD: It's nurtured over time.
MC: Yeah, it's nurtured over time. So you got to plant those seeds and really... And the way you do that is... Out of home as a channel is good at that subliminal messaging in many ways, right? And then the other way to think about it is going back to my DTC example. Out of home has been proved, more recently, to help drive that end call action that a brand might want and might be using as the KPI of performance. That could be drive to store, a physical location. Or drive to store, an online location. Drive to download an app. And then, obviously, any of the engagement that occurs in those places, right? So in a nutshell, out of home can fit into the various KPIs that a brand may want to deliver or want their campaign to deliver on. At that point in time, to maybe a question about how this is accomplished. That's where the data transformation has really helped bring to light how you could actually bring this level of measurability and parody to our medium.
AD: So you mentioned has been proven recently. I was curious. I've heard that there was some work that's being done with analysis sequent partners as it relates to the role of out of home and the customer journey. And my understanding is you're involved in that. I'm just curious if you could touch on that research and just give us a little bit of an explanation of what the intention is and what you're trying to accomplish there.
MC: Absolutely. So I'm really honored to be a core chair of the OAAA's MMM/MTA Working Group. I'm a core chair with Karin Baatsch-Deboulet from Kinetic. Karin represents the buyer's side, I represent the seller's side. And our rule in this working group is to really demystify the MMM/MTA solutions for the out of home industry. And that's why we engage with sequent partners because essentially what we'd like to deliver to the industry is a set of best practices and guidelines. And essentially, the intent of that is to help every single out of home [inaudible 00:39:13]. Whether that's a buyer, a seller, a vendor in the space that facilitates some of these solutions to work. We want them to understand how do MMM and MTA solutions work and essentially, how do they work in the lens of out of home as a media channel. And we want to make sure that we and our medium, as a channel, is evaluated accurately in these solutions. So brands will leverage these solutions to make planning or measurement decisions. They are seeing out of home's performance appropriately or accurately so that they can make the decision on investments and reinvestments, things of that nature. By the way, Neustar, for participating in that. We are not yet in a place where we have anything to share yet, we are very close. So stay tuned for some updates mid-October where we'll put out some updates.
AD: Yeah. But I think it's such an important thing to continue to do that research and to evaluate how we're measuring the impact associated with every channel in the medium. Because as things change, we want to make sure we stay on the forefront of that.
MC: Yup. And change is the constant dynamic, right?
AD: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
DD: So Mark, just a few final questions for you before we end here today. The first is are things or considerations or tactics that marketers should be thinking about in terms of the evolution of digital out of home or out of home that you'd like to kind of bring up today in terms of things that you wish you were seeing more of? Or areas of investment or areas of focus? Or even KPIs that maybe marketers maybe are not thinking about or should be thinking about more so?
MC: Yeah. I think it goes back to my point. There's the stigma that our channel is not addressable, it's not measurable. Hopefully, if a brand...
DD: That's all the hype right?
MC: That's the hype. Uh-huh (affirmative).
DD: That's the hype around out of home. Yeah.
MC: But the good news...
AD: We have to refute the hype.
MC: We have to refute that. The good news is that there's been tremendous work done in the last... I would say five or six years on that across the industry. Obviously at JCDecaux, we take pride in a lot of the innovation that we do, but I do have to recognize what we have done as an industry because rising tides lift all boats. And so I think... my mission is to help get rid of or address that stigma. Because we can measure, we can make it addressable. We are that medium that you should think about for mass personalization. And Devin, you've, I think, heard me make that statement before, the theory of mass personalization. You always hear that in the context of a mass medium. That's what we are. But funnily enough, I've heard that statement more often on the online digital channels more of late because you and I know what's happening in the debt of cookies and maids going away to a certain extent. And so...
DD: I wasn't even going to bring that up, so I'm glad you did.
AD: We were trying to just have one episode that didn't touch on cookie deprecation, just one. There you go, Mark.
MC: And I'm going to bring it in because... let that happen because we won't be affected. In fact, it's a good thing in some ways that from a parody perspective, everybody has been looking at the online digital ecosystem from a 1:1 perspective. And obviously, cookies being depreciated and mobile IDs becoming more challenging to get or obtain may disrupt that tremendously from a 1:1 perspective. Obviously, solutions like Neustar and others, through your identity systems, are really bringing a different way to look at how to fill in those gaps. But in many ways, what I think is happening is a lot of the online digital mediums are slowly going to move into a model approach. And when you think of models and testing control groups, groups that represent... or cohorts that represent audiences and things of that nature, that's how out of home has been working for quite some time. So we'll feel good about that because we're already set up for that. And I think that's what is, I think, the next evolution is how do we deal with some of those upcoming changes.
DD: It's not only the safe investment from a privacy standpoint, but it's also the investment that's also generating ROI, from what you just saw, right? So I think people are going to subscribe and preach the gospel of out of home and digital out of home because it makes sense. It's an investment in awareness, but it's also potentially an investment in performance based advertisement that we've seen because it's connected to measurement now, right?
DD: And then, so finally, what's on the horizon for out home, digital out of home? But more so JCDecaux? Like what's happening in your world? What is JCDecaux looking to build and do in the future? What's something exciting that our listeners should know about?
MC: Yeah. I think for the future of out of home, obviously the growth of programmatic, the continued digitization of assets is definitely going to be the topics for definitely a couple of years. I think for a JCDecaux perspective, what we really care about is sustainability and that's something that's really important for the company because if you think about out of home and the impact that our footprint has on the globe and Earth, we have to be really conscious about what that is. And so we have very clear mission statements on what we want our sustainability goals to be and how we leverage data to actually measure that and our own internal KPIs. And then sort of really use that together with an advertising for good model where we can leverage our footprint to do some really exciting things that help... the citizens in that location. As an example, we did a recent partnership with Microsoft in the city of Chicago, Allyson. It was launched recently.
MC: We partnered with Microsoft research to leverage our footprint, by footprint I mean our bus shelters in Chicago, to host sensors for air quality. And then any citizen of Chicago can, I believe go to one of our shelters. You'll see that clearly identified because that's all it's measuring is air quality. And you can, I believe, scan a QR code that might be on it and then you would get a sense of the air quality happening in that location and everything else that we're measuring. So in some ways, that sort of fits into the mission statement of sustainability, advertising for good. I can predict we're going to be doing a lot more of that because that's an important thing for not just us as global citizens, but for who we are as the #1 out of home media owner in the globe.
DD: to street utility, I guess, which is kind of...
DD: It's pretty cool.
MC: I would say it's what makes us different. It's services first and then great advertising, technology, and capabilities to then help fund those services for the citizens where those services are presented.
AD: Yeah. That's very exciting news, so thank you for sharing that with us. And thank you for your time, Mark. We really enjoyed chatting with you. It was a great conversation. And even though we touched on data deprecation, it was still a lot of fun.
MC: Well, I really appreciate the opportunity and I'm glad I didn't disappoint keeping that on the agenda, keeping the trend alive.
AD: Keeping the trend alive.
MC: But thank you, Neustar, for being a valuable partner. We always appreciate everything you guys do for the space in our partnership with JCDecaux. And thank you for the opportunity to be on this great podcast.
DD: Thanks, Mark.
AD: Yeah, we feel the same. Thanks, Mark.