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Managing digital out-of-home advertising with IoT, edge and 5G

Digital out-of-home is here. In today’s mobile-first society, people spend most of their time outside the home. People are empowered to make decisions on the move with mobile devices. The ad-tech industry is moving quickly to get the mind share of people on the move. The traditional out-of-home advertising is transforming into digital out-of-home advertising.

Digital out-of-home advertising is agile and programmable. It allows organizations to monitor, track and manage display content dynamically. The display content can be modified in real time and integrate with locations, objects and people. It allows content creators to unleash their imagination potential.

For example, British Airways’ Magic of Flying ad campaign showed how creative content helped with enhanced viewer engagement. British Airways placed a digital billboard in London that reacted to British Airway planes flying overhead. With the help of an ADSB antenna, British Airways was able to read each plane’s transponder data within 200km and sync ads displayed on the digital billboard with the flight path of the plane. As explained in the video, it’s a carefully orchestrated fleet of technology.

It was impossible to deliver personalized advertisements with traditional out-of-home advertising . Traditional out-of-home advertising couldn’t track viewer impressions, which made it difficult to price advertisement slots. But digital out-of-home advertising can provide targeted advertisements based on viewer demographics collected via mobile location services.

Face recognition and sentiment analysis techniques can be used to get a precise count of impressions. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth beacon measurements can also be used to measure impressions along with viewer demographics. For example, GMC used face recognition-based technology for a digital out-of-home advertising campaign. The digital ad used video cameras and face recognition technology to identify audience profile, such as age, gender, expressions and engagement. The ad then provided inactive prompts to the audience, as shown in a YouTube video.

Programmatic digital out-of-home advertising

Conventional online ads are limited by ad-blockers and ad-skips. On the other hand, it’s harder for people to ignore digital out-of-home advertising. Traditional out-of-home advertising requires campaign managers to connect with network owners, negotiate prices, prepare print content and distribute ad campaigns. The notable benefits of digital out-of-home advertising are:

  • It’s managed by software, making it agile and programmatic.
  • Media organizations can purchase digital out-of-home advertising slots based on viewers’ demographics online.
  • Its programmatic nature supports several business models.
  • In many cases, digital out-of-home advertising slots can be purchased in a bidding market.
  • The management and distribution of digital media is simpler and more flexible with digital out-of-home advertising.

Digital out-of-home advertising devices and screens

The devices that drive digital out-of-home advertising are often deployed outside. These devices contain a lot of power and are connected to the Internet. Thanks to IoT and edge computing, these devices are capable of complex machine learning and AI algorithms. Digital out-of-home advertising devices can also run video analytics and software-based video codec.

The high speed 4G and 5G connectivity makes digital out-of-home advertising media management and programmatic interface possible. To create campaigns such as the British Airways and GMC examples above, they require careful orchestration of IoT devices, including cameras, sensors, computers and displays. Even a simpler campaign requires an orchestration of more than a couple devices at every site. And the campaigning can be successful with multiple sites distributed at strategic locations.

The need to secure devices and screens

Securing technology is one of the most critical aspects of managing a fleet of distributed digital out-of-home advertising devices. Devices open up more doors for hackers to exploit vulnerabilities. For example, if digital out-of-home advertising devices are compromised, hackers can get access to all the devices at all the sites unless the right policies are in place. Once devices are compromised, organizations are faced with a host of risks including:

  • Hackers can control any media distributed on screens, which can lead to a huge loss of credibility for the organization and distribution network.
  • Devices can be used as a harbor to initiate attacks on other sites and networks.
  • Hackers can interfere in the bidding process of devices, which can lead to revenue loss.
  • Hackers can bring down an entire digital out-of-home advertising infrastructure.

What are the management needs of digital out-of-home advertising devices?

The first step is to realize the need for managing devices and screens, organizations must understand the following:

  • Organizations are often dealing with hundreds to thousands of devices that are distributed geographically.
  • Devices contain multiple components, including storage, modems, screens, sensors and cameras, making a complex combination of hardware and software components.
  • Devices may not be in an easily accessible location, such as the top of a building, on mobile devices, at street corners or at a traffic junction.
  • Devices and software can sometimes fail due to software bugs and newly identified vulnerabilities.

To ensure proper management of devices, organizations can use the best practices below.

Secure remote access

Considering the possibility that remote digital out-of-home advertising might lack qualified IT staff at each site, it becomes very essential to have reliable and secure connectivity to the devices on these sites. Connectivity to devices will provide central IT staff the ability to manage and control devices remotely. Devices may be malfunctioning or the applications running on the device may be failing. IT staff must look at logs, statistics, alerts and resource consumption patterns on the devices to determine the issue.

Three important considerations should take into account while creating a reliable remote connectivity solution for an edge computing site include:

  • Security must never be an afterthought; it must be part of the solution. The remote connection channel must be secured using strong encryption and authentication algorithms.
  • Every solution involves large scale deployment of devices across multiple sites. IT staff must be able to connect to a large set of devices and perform operations.
  • Automation is the key enabler for efficient operations. Remote solutions must support programmable interfaces, such as APIs.

Programmable and agile

Digital out-of-home advertising devices and screens must be programmable. There will be constant changes in media, such as the way systems interact with viewers and impressions are collected. A software-defined and programmable solution can cater to the needs of creative media producers.

The application upgrades, media upgrades, security patches and other parameters will be part of day-to-day operations. A secure, reliable and robust Over The Air update framework is one of the prime elements of management.

Configure and manage

IT staff may need to change configurations, restart devices and applications, delete or modify logs and statistics, and bring back failed systems to a normal operating state.

Data-driven insights

IT staff and business teams must have deep insights into the operational status of devices, media and content. Collecting data about screen, device or network failures is very critical to maintaining a healthy operational status. Ad failures have a direct impact on the revenue of digital out-of-home advertising. Measured impression data helps indicate the success rate of a campaign.

Final thoughts

Digital out-of-home advertising opens up a new business model and provides programmatic, measurable and targeted out-of-home ads. All this is possible with complex and advanced technology. Managing digital out-of-home devices, screens and other components is a critical part of maintaining reliable and functional systems.

The scale of operations needs data-driven insights for smooth operations. Securing these powerful devices must be the highest priority for IT staff and media organizations.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.

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