Norton Outdoor Advertising

Why Should Outdoor Media Planners, Buyers and Advertisers Care About EYES ON Ratings?

EYES ON Impressions, or EOIs, are the new audience measurement currency for the outdoor advertising industry, replacing Daily Effective Circulations, or DECs as our core metric.

EOIs are a measurement of those who are likely to actually notice an ad on an outdoor advertising display (billboard). EOIs are available in all outdoor markets in the US, and are reported as weekly impressions. Importantly, EOIs are provided for all demographic audiences available to other media. As a measurement of “likely to see,” as opposed to simply being exposed to an ad, EOIs have actually leapfrogged most other audience measurement metrics.

If this sounds like a marked improvement in audience measurement, it would be hard to argue to the contrary, however, these EOIs have actually been available for over a year, but very few outdoor planners, buyers or direct clients have used EOIs in the outdoor purchasing process. Why? This is what we, as an industry, and more specifically Norton Outdoor Advertising have been asking ourselves. One big reason is that the data was not available to many planners, which is presently being remedied by the rollout in Nielsen/IMS planning software (it has been available through Telmar all along). Otherwise, the most readily apparent answers go something like this: Change is hard. Change is scary. The wrong changes can cost your job, while the right ones can be easily misattributed.

This applies not only to those planning or buying our medium, but equally to those of us charged with selling it. To date, the traditional outdoor advertising industry has been dumbed down to essentially commodities of 3 basic sizes: 8 sheets, 30 Sheets and Bulletins. This commoditization has made it relatively easy for the media planners and buyers, as they have been able to very quickly send a request for proposal (RFP) for, say, a #25 GRP showing of 30 Sheets (posters) for a given time frame. Each outdoor provider on the list knew how many of their displays (on average) in their market garnered a #25 GRP showing, so the whole buy-sell relationship quickly turned to a “negotiation” based on little more than price and “added value” (read: bonus), with the actual locations, if included in the proposal, serving to show coverage and possibly an average DEC. The OOH team would then sell the account team and/or the client on the outdoor program based on this information.

When the only audience currency available was DECs, this buy-sell relationship was understandable. Without demographic breakdowns available, out-of-home couldn’t fit in media planning optimizers, so we were left as a “below the line” medium. An add-on medium. An “alternative medium.” Maybe one step up from being media planning’s version of a red-headed stepchild (no offense intended to those with red hair or stepchildren). The point is we weren’t on the planning grid.

EYES ON Ratings, however, provide a new depth of information that allows us to fit into media planning optimizers, and should play a part in virtually all outdoor buys. In addition to the demographic information now available, remember that the audience delivery metrics are based on those that are “likely to see” an outdoor advertising ad, as opposed to those who are merely exposed to one, by virtue of driving by it. As stated above, this has allowed the audience delivery metrics for outdoor to leapfrog most other media.

This new measurement benchmark provides a much higher level of accountability, as media planners and buyers no longer need to A) discount the DEC counts by whatever factor they deem appropriate (This is a practice that I have never understood, unless they do the same for other media. I mean, do they really think that people pay attention to every ad interrupting their television program, especially now with DVR’s? Don’t get me started on newspaper readership claims.); B) guess the reach against their target market and C) rely heavily on the outdoor company’s familiarity with their inventory to provide showings that meet their clients’ needs.

This significant upgrade in media measurement is just in time, as the explosive proliferation of media platforms, and options within those platforms, have rendered what were traditionally considered “mass media” as niche media. The change over the past few years has been extraordinary, and it is accelerating. Media consumption is becoming increasingly mobile-based and on-demand. Also, brands can’t just talk to consumers, but rather interact with them. All of this is fantastic for OOH, as we stand as the last true mass, or “top of the funnel” medium. We have the ability to provide mass audience, as always, but we can now tell advertisers how many of “their” people will see their ads.

The use of EYES ON will surely be client driven, and exactly how it is used will evolve over time. For example, I don’t know what will come to be the standard levels for outdoor buys in the coming months and years, as #25 and #50 GRPs (daily) against 18+ have been the standards to date. I don’t even know if there will be standard levels for outdoor buys. I do believe that outdoor is in a position to be more important to advertisers and brands than ever before, and with EYES ON, we have a heck of a story to tell.

Mike Norton
Norton Outdoor Advertising

Norton Outdoor Advertising is Cincinnati's family owned and operated outdoor advertising company. In business since 1949, Norton offers more than 900 boards in the market to satisfy your advertising plan, including Junior Posters, Posters, bulletins, trivisions and a network of digital displays. For more information, visit



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