Keeping TABs

A weekly update from TAB on ratings, membership, and TAB's transitional process to meet the needs of an evolving media landscape


A Final President's Report

I wanted to share with you my final President’s Report that I am giving to the Board of Directors later today. My feelings and observations extend far beyond the TAB Board to everyone in this great industry we call OOH.

As my 12 year term as President and CEO of TAB comes to an end, I write this President’s report with gratitude, pride, and confidence.

I joined TAB with no experience in Out of Home advertising. After a brief academic career, I spent much of my time working with syndicated research companies and advertising agencies.

I am fortunate to have enjoyed a varied and rich career, but nothing has been more rewarding than my work with the members of TAB and the OOH industry. Together, we have built a high quality ratings system from scratch. I remember an interview early in my TAB tenure where I was asked what this industry needed the most, to which I responded, “I don’t know for sure, I’ll ask you, and then we will figure out how to build it.”

Quite literally, that was the genesis of what is today known as TAB Out of Home Ratings. It became a collaborative effort with executives of TAB member
companies, leading research and software companies, and the TAB staff working to design a ratings system that meets the needs of a medium significantly different from other local media. There are too many people to recognize, but each of you who has contributed to building this ratings system should be proud of what you have accomplished. So as I take my exit, I would like to leave you with several lessons I have learned during my tenure.

Today’s TAB Out of Home Ratings are a valued asset. As the TAB Board of Directors embark on the development of a new vision and expanded research program, it is essential that you remain confident in the value of the current ratings system. It meets the needs of the industry and provides a valued currency for the buying and selling of our medium. As we have recently added transit ratings and ratings for digital spots, we have demonstrated that it can expand to meet the needs of a dynamic media landscape. Another evolution of the ratings is the incorporation of INRIX’s speed data into our operating system. This foray into the use of time-based big-data solutions is merely a first step toward leveraging new data options.

Collaboration is the foundation for growth. The team of leading researchers, from different companies, was unique. Each individual was willing to admit that they alone did not have the answer. They built on each other’s unique expertise to build a state-of-the-art solution superior to what any of us had envisioned. Continued collaboration between buyers and sellers, researchers, and platform providers is the only way to grow our industry. No one person has all of the answers because the right questions are still being formulated.

Ratings are only one piece of the puzzle. No one is a greater believer in the importance of ratings than I am, but ratings are not a quick-fix solution for growth. They are an essential ingredient for conducting media transactions and are part of the larger advertising eco-system. But ratings need to seamlessly fit into all advertising business processes—from the basic buy/sell transaction to the clients’ ROI analytic systems. This requires applications platforms and the ability to merge OOH ratings with other media data, new insight data from big data sources, and client sales data. I am not marginalizing the importance of ratings, but rather, am suggesting that until ratings are connected with other high-value insight data and feed into the overall advertising eco-system, there is still much work to be done. 

Standards, process, and platforms should not be overlooked. Before the value-proposition of ratings is fully realized by our clients, we need to be using the ratings with consistency. That takes standards and platforms. Standards and platforms make the process more fluid and accountable. TAB has facilitated that process by recommending standards and providing TAB ratings to new 3rd party analytic companies. Even still, they need your support, including specifications from TAB members, to build systems to your specifications rather than their business assumptions. One primary role of TAB is to ensure that our data can be used within these systems.

Mainstreaming is the roadway forward. It is only natural for companies to want control of “their data”. Control of data assumes power. But in the evolving world of big data, I believe that ultimate value comes from the mainstreaming of data throughout the eco-system. Putting data into the hands of potential clients translates to greater consideration and greater demand. That does not mean there is not a need for standards and policies that protect the asset. Without proper data standards and policies, the data are merely noise, not value.

The future of our industry’s research and ratings is bright. The time has come for a change of leadership at TAB. Dynamic new leadership is needed to help navigate the ratings and research component of our industry into a new world of opportunities.The ratings system provides a strong foundation for moving forward into a world of big data, new solutions and a stronger information-based value proposition for our industry. Although I am leaving my current position at TAB, I am not planning on leaving the industry. I am pleased to continue working with the TAB Board and Sequent Partners in the transition process and look forward to seeing where this exciting collaborative journey will take us. 

I wish to thank you for your support, your insights and your friendships.  What we have today has become a reality through your efforts, and because of you, our industry’s future looks bright.

Dr. Joseph C. Philport

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