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A look at New Zealand tech start-up, LENS Outdoor – the next evolution in OOH analytics

The advertising industry is waking up to the fact that historical ways of audience measurement for out-of-home is simply not up to scratch, lacking both the accuracy and transparency that advertisers are now demanding.

New Zealand-based LENS Outdoor co-founder Robin Arnold talks to Idealog about why this new tech start-up and sophisticated new audience measurement platform provides advertisers, anywhere on the globe, the ability to make strategic decisions based on real-time analytics and campaign accountability, while providing clients with transparency and trust in the DOOH sector.

Can you give us a brief insight into LENS?

LENS uses multiple high-resolution cameras and specialised number plate recognition software to deliver truthful insights of audiences as they travel past digital billboards every day.

The LENS platform will encompass four key components that inform its outputs: unique audience reach and visitor frequency measures, detailed vehicular insights, a site based demographic overlay, and a livestream camera network – displaying all screens in real-time.

How does LENS help agencies and advertisers?

Agencies and advertisers will access an intuitive dashboard which will provide them with weekly, daily and hourly data insights which are live.

The LENS dashboard provides users the ability to plan DOOH campaigns, media proposal validation, prove post-campaign audience delivery, and offers greater transparency and accountability for media owners.

Visualising cumulative and unique reach, visitor frequency, site-based demographics and motor vehicle information including type, make, model and age is the new benchmark. Reports can be generated by single or any combination of sites. All data can be viewed, shared and downloaded in a customisable format, from anywhere in the world.

When and why was LENS established?

Created amidst the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, LENS was developed in New Zealand to specifically account for the dynamic volume, patterns and trends of DOOH audiences. Its unique use of data and technology offers real-time insight, accuracy and transparency, anywhere in the world, unlike any currently available in the OOH sector.

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed a significant weakness in the various datasets that are used in the OOH sector. Without the ability to collect and report on current audience metrics, the other platforms rely upon modelled data that is outdated, inaccurate, lacks transparency and site specificity.

As DOOH rebounds from the impact of the pandemic and with the introduction of programmatic trading, LENS comes at the perfect time, allowing for strategic decisions based on real-time data.

How does LENS work, and on what technology platforms?

LENS is the inaugural platform that uses multiple site-based high-resolution cameras, specialised number plate recognition software and an intuitive dashboard to deliver truthful insights of DOOH audiences as they travel past digital billboards, every hour of every day.

In addition to measuring frequency, LENS uses alpha-numeric code to access anonymised data to identify vehicle type, make, model and year of manufacture for each plate it sees.

Who did you partner with for this new technology?

We partnered with software developer Latch Digital to build the audience measurement platform, with the aim of delivering world leading transparency and accuracy.

We also partnered with AXIS and Vaxtor to install a site-based Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) camera network across LUMO’s digital billboard portfolio. This site-based camera infrastructure delivers millions of datapoints each day which offers the highest degree of accuracy and reliability of any roadside OOH measurement system in the world.  

We are excited to have LUMO as our foundation client. We also have discussions underway with several Australian and UK-based media operators.

What data is being collected from LENS and how is this data collated and used?

The particular positioning of the cameras combined with our proprietary software means LENS captures almost 100% of all passing number plates.

The LENS platform uses multiple high-resolution site-based cameras positioned on each billboard structure to capture plate numbers in real-time. The software converts each plate into alpha-numeric code which allows the platform to quantify visitor frequency.

We have the ability to ingest mobile data from devices that travel towards each billboard site, offering a simple demographic snapshot of audiences at each location.

What lessons have you learnt and any key takeaways?

  1. Leverage the innovative Kiwi spirit by looking beyond the status quo.
  2. Know your audience and answer the needs of your core client base.
  3. Covid-19 provided a big lesson in agility and responding quickly to changing events.
  4. Covid-19 exposed a weakness, so we responded with a world-first, premium analytics platform.
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