Broadsign and Clear Channel: digital partners in out-of-home
Broadsign is a global company providing software for outdoor advertising, or “out-of-home,” networks. “We work with almost all of the world's largest out-of-home networks and not just on the digital side, but also paper-based out-of-home networks,” says Maarten Dollevoet, Chief Revenue Officer at Broadsign. “Clients use the Broadsign platform for anything from ad serving to network operations, and also to manage and optimise their sales workflows - as well as connecting to new channels like programmatic buying.” Broadsign is one of the only platforms with such a wide spectrum of offerings, but it also allows companies to do more with less. “One of the key benefits of working with Broadsign is that we focus a lot on automation and optimisation, allowing customers to devote more time to their high-value activities rather than more routine and repetitive tasks.”
The out-of-home industry has experienced considerable growth on the digital side, with market leader Broadsign being ideally placed to influence trends. One is digitisation, the evolution from posters and printed billboards to digital signs. “With the move to digital, advertisers are able to leverage its inherent flexibility to react in real time to content changes, audience movement, as well as the ability to use data for improved audience targeting and to dynamically change screen content,” says Dollevoet. “Content is King, but context is everything. While we aren’t close to the Tom Cruise-style, Minority Report-type of targeting, we can deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time.” One example was a recent campaign for takeout food, where the content automatically displayed a ‘pick-up’ message when the sun was shining, versus promoting the ‘home delivery’ option when it was raining.
Another important trend is the rise of programmatic transactions, where advertising is bought and sold in real time via automated bidding systems, much like it is today for online and mobile ads. “We see programmatic not only as a way to automate the buying process, but also an opportunity to connect with non-traditional out-of-home advertisers who may benefit from more omnichannel media campaigns.”
When Clear Channel International was looking for a best-in-class content management system to support its digital transformation, it chose Broadsign and its offering. “The relationship has really flourished and has become a strong partnership. After the CMS, the team at Clear Channel wanted to leverage more of the platform to help them scale other parts of their business. It added Broadsign Direct, a tool to help them scale their sales organisation so salespeople were able to respond to customer requests and RFPs quicker, and sell more of their network at a premium. So what started out as an initial relationship on the CMS side has become a true partnership for the rest of the business.”
While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had an undoubted impact on out-of-home advertising, changes in the online advertising space have revealed fresh opportunities. “With the impact of what's happening in the online world with privacy concerns and the disappearance of the cookie, we actually believe the momentum for out-of-home is stronger than ever.” Such trends lead Dollevoet to believe the future is bright for the industry. “COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of programmatic too. If we look at our systems, we see a V-shaped recovery of programmatic because advertisers who have smaller budgets are looking for more flexibility, and the ability to turn budgets on and off more granularly or in a more targeted manner.”
Nybl: Saudi Startup to Expand AI Solutions
According to co-founder Nour Alnahhas, nybl was formed for the greater good. A visual data mining and machine learning platform, the platform will help organisations streamline their operations. ‘We wanted to centralise our vision around AI and machine learning’, said Alnahhas. ‘Something not just for profit, but added value. Conscious capitalism’.
Nybl aims to democratise artificial intelligence by making it possible for anyone to build an AI solution. What website builders like Wix and Squarespace did for site design, nybl will do for AI—allowing even non-coders to feel comfortable creating solutions. In fact, Alnahhas calls it a ‘Shopify of AI’, or a third-party platform that helps businesses deliver better service.
With hubs in Kuwait, the UAE, North America, and India, nybl is focused on launching operations in Saudi Arabia, Alnahhas’s home country. When the company first launched, it was difficult to convince Saudi Arabian businesses to work with a startup. Yet now, nybl has proven itself. ‘We had support in the UAE, so now we’re coming back’, said Alnahhas.
Alnahhas has launched a pilot with Saudi Aramco and has slowly built partnerships with paper, heating, HVAC air conditioning, and manufacturing companies. In addition, the Saudi government has started to invest in the Kingdom’s National Strategy for Data and AI, which means that nbyl, as a tech startup, has finally gained credibility.
No War for Talent
One of the most critical parts of nybl’s expansion will be hiring the right individuals. Thankfully, there’s a current surplus of talented researchers, developers, and data scientists within the Kingdom. Like nybl’s Alnahhas—educated at the University of Houston, the Wharton School of Business, and INSEAD— many Saudi Arabians have benefited from government-sponsored education abroad.
Last year, Saudi Arabia signed several partnerships with tech firms to advance the Kingdom’s skills in artificial intelligence. ‘It’s exciting to be in Saudi Arabia where there’s alignment and support’, Alnahhas concluded. ‘You’re getting an increasing talent pool. And even old and big family conglomerates are finally changing to use AI’.