Should You Turn Your Digital Display Into a Money Maker?

Author Ajay Kapoor

How to Advertise, Monetize and Display Content With Your Digital Directory

On April 8th, 1904 the intersection of Broadway and 42nd Street in Manhattan was renamed Times Square when The New York Times moved their headquarters there. Just three weeks later, the first electrified advertisement was raised on 46th and Broadway.

Within 20 years, over $85M in advertising revenue flowed in through the signs at Times Square. The immortal Wrigley Spearmint sign reached a coveted threshold of $9,000/month to rent ($160K in today’s dollars). Now it’s been over 100 years that the world has sold and consumed advertising in commercial real estate. It continues to grow to an anticipated $5B in North America in 2022 and is growing at over 15% per year.

Advertising has evolved from the ostentatious billboards of the past to targeted and directed messaging of the future. But those billboards have created an opportunity for building owners and operators to increase the utility and revenue of their own digital signage through advertising.


The Path to Digital Directory Monetization

Today’s advertising landscape is professional. It targets specific audiences with well-defined content and engaging interactivity. At TouchSource, we have been leading the charge by helping our customers who own or operate properties to monetize their investments.

The first and most important question any property owner or operator needs to answer before embarking on the path of monetization is: What is your goal?

We looked at usage and designs among our 11,000 clients. Here are three critical reasons to monetize digital wall displays:

1. Tenant value-add. For many property teams, the best value from digital advertising is to help their tenants generate more business. That may be part of the signage package in the lease or a way for a property owner to grow loyalty. (Our clients find it easy to manage this via our TouchSource Spark platform, so its a win-win for both owners and tenants.)

2. Community growth. For property groups such as Granite Properties, they found that using digital office building directories and digital signage as an advertising channel generated more tenant loyalty and satisfaction. The “monetization” comes not from explicitly selling advertising, but by promoting healthy building features, upcoming events and Granite’s corporate brand, all of which creates a strong community atmosphere for their tenants.

3. Third party promotion, sponsorship, and advertising. Property groups that are savvy with their digital signage real estate have found novel ways to increase revenue streams through advertising. For others, this advertising can offset the cost to standard operations.

If the goal aligns with that third category of advertising and sponsorship, the inevitable next question is: Can I make money by advertising on my electronic building directory? The answer is “Yes.”

Factors Influencing Revenue Potential

The value of digital signage advertising in 2021 was an estimated $14 Billion, so there’s an enormous opportunity here. But there are different ways to monetize your digital sign effectively, whether it is through the TouchSource Directory Media Network or self-monetizing through local or national sales. Regardless of how it is monetized, the scale of revenue depends on several factors. Among them are location, number of viewers (impressions), and audience quality.

Factors Influencing Advertising Scale of Revenue

► Location. As the old adage says, “There are three things that matter in property: location, location, location.” Despite the advanced technology driving advertising around the globe, it still holds true (Click to Tweet this). Location matters in two different ways:

1. The location of the display so it attracts as many people as possible. If the digital directory is in a corner or in a security desk, it won’t generate as much revenue. It should be big, bold, and visible.

2. The physical location of the building. Unfortunately, Little Rock and Des Moines don’t command the same rates as Los Angeles and Dallas. But as programmatic advertising grows, we’ll see more and more smaller locations gaining more dollars. Advertising is purchased based on the Designated Market Area (DMA) that is established by the old-school terrestrial television stations so you are grouped within your market. And if you are in the Top 5, Top 15, or Top 25, that’s pretty good for advertising rates.

► Impressions. Connected with location is the number of viewers, or impressions, of the sign. This drives the revenue up dramatically. Advertising is usually purchased using a standard measure called CPM or “cost per thousand” of impressions in the programmatic or national market, but with smaller and local sales there can be a flat rate for a specific spot, or number of spots in a loop. Regardless of purchase method, the price goes up based on the number of people who see it.  If 500 people see the sign a day and there is a CPM of $8, then a specific advertising spot can generate $4 a day; If there are 4 spots sold, it can generate $16/day.

► Quality. The third factor affecting price is the quality of the audience that sees the ads. Most brands have targeted audiences for their products and pay extra to reach them. For local businesses, their target audiences are usually the tenants or visitors in the buildings near them. The quality also varies by the type of sign and where it is placed. Adomni, one of the leaders in digital signage ad placement, published prices for different types of venues and offices are near the top of pricing. The reason? Because offices with digital directories tend to have professional tenants, and those that come to the office tend to be the senior executives with the highest incomes. So from a quality perspective, office building advertising can command high rates.

How to Get Started

Once you wrap your head around advertising and monetization, the next question is “How much effort do I want to spend?” If the answer is that you’re getting ready to launch a sales campaign, manage the signs, and handle the invoicing, then you may find the most benefit in self-monetizing. But if you have hundreds of other tasks on your plate and you want help, then partnering with TouchSource may be the better option. But there are multiple options for you to consider:

• Join the Directory Media Network as a Member. In the spring of 2020, TouchSource launched the Directory Media Network, which is now used by 250 buildings around the country. This innovative solution allows you to upgrade the content on your digital directory to include infotainment, weather, traffic, finance information, mobile directory features, and advertising while lowering the annual subscription costs for your digital directory by as much as 75%. Hundreds of TouchSource customers are taking advantage of this “zero effort” way to leverage advertising to subsidize the annual cost of their digital signage, add more applications, and benefit from free proactive monitoring.

The average customer on the digital signage network is gaining an additional $100/month in subsidized benefit from participating in the digital network. In addition, the advertising network is only placing high-quality advertisements from high-quality brands and excludes many of the low-end or unprofessional ads that plague other networks. You can be guaranteed a quality experience on the TouchSource Directory Media Network.

• Join the Directory Media Network as a Partner. When TouchSource launched the Directory Media Network, we launched a unique partnership with Boxer Properties and immediately deployed the network to dozens of their sites. As a network partner, they benefit from not only upgraded content but a revenue share of the total sales. TouchSource studied the revenue share models from other providers and decided that if a real estate owner is willing to partner, then it should be meaningful in terms of revenue.

However, the key to this partnership is scale. So if you have 15 or more of our displays, you are eligible to partner in a revenue share with us. This results in a semi-annual revenue boost based on the amount of advertising sold to your displays. Our partners are already receiving revenue shares in the tens of thousands of dollars and are racing to grow their networks faster. This unique model is now available to property owners around the country at revenue share rates that are significantly higher than previous models in the digital office building directory space.

• Self-Monetize with Help from TouchSource. We recognize that some property owners and operators have the resources and the desire to sell ads or grow their advertising revenue in-house. There is an opportunity to leverage the advertising expertise from TouchSource as you pursue your self-monetization through a variety of tactics:

1. Participate in Programmatic Networks. TouchSource can make your network of digital directories available on the programmatic networks outside of the TouchSource Directory Media Network. This will enable national and local advertisers to purchase inventory on your digital directories and enable you to manage all of the creative approvals, content approvals, and available spots.

2. Billing and Invoicing Support. Through TouchSource’s integration with Vistar Media, we can provide billing and invoicing support for local sales that you perform. This can assure that each add has an auditable “proof of play” or “proof of performance.”

3. Content Creation and Management. Although local stores and local brands can be more lucrative than a national campaign, they also have some drawbacks. One of the major hurdles is that local stores often don’t have content for advertising and infrequently have effective content. TouchSource can help create content to use as advertising as part of our Content Management Services and help you enable your local advertisers to be successful.

4. Self-Monetize on Your Own: With TouchSource, it’s easy to manage content across multiple screens, schedule content, and show local advertisers the value they’re getting for their sponsorship dollars. If you choose to self-monetize your digital directory, our designers will create a theme for your directory tailored to the amount of advertising you and your partners want. Our Customer Success Managers will train you on scheduling and managing the content yourself. For these types of programs, we recommend that our clients use the simplest possible strategy of booking to pay an advertisement monthly and charging a flat fee. It will make it easier to track and, although you may have idle inventory, it’s worth the simplicity if you are doing it yourself.

Want to learn more about monetizing your digital building directory? Contact us today to learn what option is right for your business.

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