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Vistar Hires Ex-GroundTruth Performance Strategist Matt Schuster As CRO

The biggest challenge of out-of-home historically has been that there was no real way to directly tie any impact results back to the actual campaign exposure. With location data, you can understand consumer movement enabling marketers to validate store visitation and household validation," says Vistar CEO Michael Provenzano.

Vistar Media, seeking to deepen its cross-platform insights between out of home advertising and location technology, has named Matt Schuster, formerly of location ad marketplace GroundTruth, as its chief revenue officer.

he most recently was head of performance strategy, leading development and go-to-market strategy for all performance-based solutions. Before that Schuster was head of sales for GroundTruth, responsible for revenue growth from all major brand and holding companies in North America. Under his lead, the sales team achieved 100 percent growth in both revenue and headcount. Previously, Schuster was Sales Director at Undertone, a digital advertising company, where he oversaw a 300 percent increase in revenue over 18 months.

“Out-of-home is where the most innovation is happening in today’s media landscape, as mobile has largely become commoditized and centralized toward a few large industry players,” said Matt Schuster. “In out-of-home there is tremendous opportunity to bring targeting and concrete ROI measurement to advertisers that have never before been able to measure the impact of this channel.”

The company has called 2017 a “breakout year” for Vistar, and Schuster’s appointment follows a recent expansion into Canada.

“Matt joins Vistar at a time of rapid growth, and his experience scaling teams and revenue for innovative businesses will help our transition into additional international markets, as we bring in top talent to meet increasing global demand for our services,” said Michael Provenzano, CEO of Vistar Media.

We checked in with Provenzano about the evolution of OOH and the location tech connection amid the company’s growth plans.

GeoMarketing: What’s the state of “Digital Out of Home?” How has Vistar’s approach to DOOH evolved?

Michael Provenzano: The digital out-of-home industry is in an exciting spot today. At a basic inventory level, we’re seeing more and more media owners digitizing their networks, which is bringing opportunities for more dynamic content and creative executions to new contextual environments.

The biggest shift that we’re seeing in the OOH space is the push to tie OOH to measurable ROI (with programmatic being one of the mechanisms driving this shift). Digital buyers are increasingly looking to add OOH into their broader omnichannel media mix, and media owners are eager to tap into growing digital budgets. Transacting digital out-of-home programmatically requires systems that have been built to handle the complexities of OOH, such as measuring a 1-to-many medium, managing creative approvals (which have stricter regulations due to their public display), creative transcoding to fit the huge variety of screen displays, and much more. At the same time, programmatic systems that have been built from the ground up to handle these challenges are also offering new opportunities for buyers to reach their audiences in targeted, measurable ways across a very impactful medium.

Our approach to OOH has changed over time as we learned the ins-and-outs of the medium and got to see first hand the challenges that both media owners and advertisers were facing. The first challenge was simply building technology that would enable efficient transactions at scale. We focused on building those pipes and also aggregating supply by integrating and building partnerships with media owners across 90% of the available supply. As we ran more and more campaigns and learned more about the strategies of OOH buyers, we added in a focus on data and measurement, to demonstrate the ROI of OOH media. Today we have the ability to measure the impact of OOH advertising as never before and help marketers understand their consumers in amazing new ways, based on their movement patterns.

One thing we’ve been looking at is the rise of autonomous vehicles. What happens to billboards and radio when cars drive themselves?

There’s no question that the rise of automated vehicles will have a dramatic impact on the OOH industry, but ultimately we don’t see it as a damaging change. To start with, OOH is not really about billboards. It’s about using real estate assets – the physical locations that the OOH networks own – as opportunities to engage with consumers through compelling 1-to-many content. That opportunity doesn’t go away as people change how they move throughout the world, it just shifts the requirements for the content.

OOH media owners are also already starting to use their assets for multiple purposes – adding sensors to become a data collection point, working with telecom providers to support their networks, providing wifi, working with municipalities to become part of the citizen communication systems, etc. So there’s a lot of opportunity to diversify the use of the physical asset, which today might only be serving as a static billboard.

We also believe that mobile and OOH are perfect complements to each other, and the rise of autonomous vehicles will drive this connection further. Combining the impact of OOH media with the personal communication of mobile advertising is very powerful, and as consumer use of mobile devices increases during transportation moments, the interaction between OOH and mobile will be amplified.

How does geo-data and the use of location analytics factor into DOOH measurement for Vistar’s clients?

The biggest challenge of out-of-home historically has been that there was no real way to directly tie any impact results back to the actual campaign exposure. With location data, you can understand consumer movement enabling marketers to validate store visitation and household validation.

In-store visitation is a crucial KPI for retailers in a range of industries, from the big box retailers to telecom, QSR and casual dining. If they can invest in media and then see an increase in the number of people visiting their stores, and therefore increasing sales, that demonstrates the ROI of that ad spend and is a huge win for their business. Vistar measures foot traffic by using location data to identify audiences that have been exposed to a digital out-of-home campaign and then visited a physical store location. This provides a powerful view into the impact of OOH media exposure.

Visitation is great for retail marketers, but for some marketers in areas like automotive and CPG, sales are the final KPI that matters. In a similar way that location data tells us where someone went, it also can tell us where someone lives. Some of the largest transactional data sets for sales are stored at the household level. By combining location data with transactional data, we are able to understand what households are exposed to what ads and understand how sales were changed at a selection of households.

Are there any new programs or initiatives Vistar is planning to expand looking ahead to 2018?  

A major area of growth for us in 2018 will be expanding in international markets. We recently launched our business in Canada and are already seeing strong traction among leading brands, agencies and trading groups. We will be launching operations in the UK in January 2018 and expect to enter other European markets over the course of the year. The OOH industry in the EU is quite evolved, so we see tremendous opportunity to bring sophisticated targeting and measurement to this channel.

We will also be expanding our vertical solutions through key partnerships, to be able to extend our targeting and sales lift measurement capabilities to more industries (similar to our current solutions for automotive, retail and CPG).