Selling Digital Ad Space


Digital Place-Based Media (DPB) or Digital Out-Of-Home (DOOH) is an ad-driven model, where retailers sell ad space on their display screens, either to in-store brands or to non-related advertisers. Retailers make additional income by allowing others to advertise on their networks. Anywhere consumers have “dwell time” is a great place for DPB media advertising.

Why Advertisers Want Your Network

Advertisers can target DPB spots nationally as well as locally. DPB is better than TV advertisements, because advertisers are able to access the consumer while they’re out and about at places where they are in the purchasing mindset. Nielsen, the audience-measurement firm, now publishes a quarterly screen report, covering more than 20 digital signage networks, to assist advertisers in the purchase of DPB spots. In addition, Nielsen also offers numerous ROI/efficacy studies, which are undertaken every year.

DPB media allow advertisers to target consumers well beyond demographics, and speak to them where they’re living their lives in action mode—a very powerful consumer target for the advertiser. Digital Place Based Advertising Association (DPAA) publishes a Creative Standards and Standard Advertising Units booklet. The purpose of this booklet is to reduce the costs and increase the efficiencies associated with executing multi-network DPB buys.

The DPAA booklet introduces a common nomenclature for agency creatives, planners, buyers, network creatives and sales and marketing executives. The intent is twofold: first, to have common terminology to describe facets of the medium and, second, to offer a standard ad unit that all networks can play. According to DPAA, more than $1.7 billion was spent to purchase ad spots on DPB media networks in 2014. You can get additional information at

DPB media advertising continues to be a highly desired media choice because of its ability to engage consumers at the right time, in the right place and when they are in the right mindset. Most of the ad time is currently being purchased by national and regional advertisers. But more and more local businesses are buying ad space on local digital signage networks within their marketing area.

Advertisers generally buy ad space based on hourly time slots, and/or on the number of ad impressions. It costs more for an advertiser at peak times. Peak times are when the DPB venue has the most traffic. Peak time could be several times each day. For example, a gas station/convenience store peak time can be from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. with people filling up before going to work, and again at 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. for people returning from work.

If you’re not a large, multi-site retailer operation with heavy foot traffic, it’s best to target advertisers locally. You will also be able to get a higher price per hour. Your signage is the best way to attract local advertising clients. These are people who frequent your facility and who own their own businesses. Simply place ads on your signage for local businesses to “advertise here.” If you’re a small retailer with a few locations, it is better to deal with a local advertiser than a national one. You will have more control, and it is easier to manage.

Some retailers provide ad time to offset the costs of their digital signage network. If you plan on selling ad time on your network, make a list of the complementary products, or services your customers might like to see. Use this list to create targeted lists of advertisers locally or nationally. Even make a flyer or tri-fold on why advertisers should buy time on your network. Include how you handle proof-of-performance, and your rate card information. For example, a one-location printing shop may want to target business-related ads—accountants, office equipment, attorneys, banks, etc.—for potential ad buyers.

If you do sell time to local advertisers, try to have the advertiser include some way to track the effectiveness of their ads, like a price discount, or coupon code. If the advertiser has positive results, you have a long-term and happy ad client. Also, consider bartering for ad time by joining a bartering service, or barter directly with the advertiser.

What you never want to do is show ad content that could tarnish your brand. As the owner of your digital signage network, you have the right to select the ad spots that are appropriate for your network, and to refuse the ones that aren’t.

Selling Digital Ad SpaceProof-of-play

If a retailer wants to offer its network to advertisers, it needs to select a CMS with an advertising platform that provides acceptable proof-of-play statistics. Advertisers want to know their ads were shown, and when, to justify the payment. Without this, advertisers will not have confidence in their ad purchase.

Besides the proof-of-play feature needed in your advertising CMS, look for a billing or accounting feature to make it easier to sell and invoice the advertiser, and to pay commissions. The software platform needs to be able to also accept the electronic delivery of the digital ad, and incorporate it easily into the playlist of the retailer’s network. Some advertising CMS software allows you to advertise your network directly to advertisers, and display ad rates to potential ad buyers online. This can really help in exposing your signage network to national ad buyers.

Do You Really Want to Sell Ads?

Your company’s image, type of content and competition are some of the reasons why you might not want to sell ad spots on your network. But another reason is that you’re not in the advertising business. Even though you will receive monies from selling ad time, you must consider the time involved in selling, converting materials, adding and deleting playlist content, management of the purchased spots, proof-of-play, billing and collections, commissions and other related time and expenses.

Selling ad time to your product vendors can make more sense, which you can easily control and manage. Many of your vendors have advertising funds available for retailers to spend on marketing and advertising. Selling ad time to your vendors to promote their products offers benefits both to you and your vendors, with increased sales.

Many vendors have content that can easily be modified to broadcast on your signage network. Some retailers negotiate better pricing in return to allow vendors’ messages on their signage. The more foot traffic your network has, the more leverage you have.

For example, a supermarket or deli could sell ad space to its product vendors, highlighting products on a screen placed behind the deli counter, and playing while people wait to be served. This is a great way to increase sales and awareness of some of your not-so-popular items, or to introduce new ones. This is digital signage at its best—showing products to consumers while they are ready to purchase.


About Author

David Bawarsky, DSCE, is the author of Digital Signage Made Simple for Retailers. He has more than 35 years of experience in helping thousands of companies use technology to effectively communicate their unique marketing messages. He is currently the CEO of mySignageNow, a leading provider of digital signage solutions. He has been a technology entrepreneur throughout his career, creating and managing successful media companies. His companies have won many awards, including an “OBIE” (outdoor advertising’s Oscar) and has been featured in more than 1,900 newspapers, magazines and TV shows worldwide, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, CNN, BBC, NBC’s “Today Show,” and ABC’s “World News Tonight.” For more information, visit

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Send this to a friend