Over the weekend I got a notification from Twitter that I had been added by a new user called @DOOHdroid. Per my usual drill, I checked them out. The fact that they decided to follow 136 people in one day is not unusual. They must have been in a hurry, because not filtering the results of a Twitter search for “DOOH” resulted in them following some folks that I don’t think are related to the industry, including JonDooh, PoohDeeDooh, and of course DooDoohBrown. A few more clicks and I found that a web site had been launched by the same name in August. From the home page:
This Blog seeks to contend that a unified platform is necessary for the accelleration (sic) of this industry.
<I am all for acceleration of the industry, so I read on.>
We believe Google/Motorolla (sic) combo of Android and DOOH will do just that. So…we call this new platform or if you prefer, interface, DOOHdroid.
The page also features a video interview with Patrick Quinn of PQ Media, conducted by Tony Hymes of DOOH.com. The interview, done after Quinn’s well-received presentation at this year’s DSE conference, outlines key obstacles to stronger growth in the industry. He speaks at length about fragmentation and the need for consolidation; the need for one industry voice; the lack of trust in metrics used by network operators, and the need for universal buying and planning platforms. All solid points, backed up by primary and secondary research. None of it seems to be a cry for a mobile operating system, which by no means should ever be confused with a platform in the sense that Patrick was using the word. The combination of questionable proofreading and basic understanding of what the issues appear to be left me uneasy. The assertion that Google/Motorola/Android would arrive to “unify” the industry and spark explosive growth was even more off-putting. But we’ll get back to that in a moment.
The only other active page of the DOOHdroid site was a short, undated blog entry in which the author reveals himself as a Floridian, inspired by comments made by Jason Kates and Rob Gorrie, both of whom look at the world through a lens of media planning and buying. When Jason rhetorically asks “what can DOOH learn from Google?”, he understands that the answer has to do with the removal of friction from transactions and the value of applications. When Rob speaks of “fluidity through a platform”, he is speaking primarily about a planning, buying and execution platform for agencies, and to a lesser extent about digital signage platforms. Either would argue that a unified planning and buying platform (presumably the one they control) would close the trust gap that Patrick Quinn speaks of and accelerate ad revenue growth in DOOH networks. As inspirational as both of these guys may be, they aren’t talking about Droid.
Let’s be clear: if Google wants to “unify” the industry, they have the resources to buy enough networks, agencies and solution providers to force that to happen. It would cost a darn sight less than acquiring Motorola. I seriously doubt whether that would be their approach, though. The natural place for them to start would be at the DSP or media planning/buying level. Entering on the planning and buying side would be a natural fit for Google, and would also allow them to leverage learnings and tools from AdWords as they execute. The ad dollars are what would attract Google. It is unlikely that they would want to own networks, as it is very much not their type of business. They have done very well by serving web sites and ad networks without owning them, thank you. As for software solutions, that would be more of a possibility than network ownership, but would probably be part of a strategy related to using applications to funnel ad dollars through their infrastructure. Any play there would probably be more related to customer acquisition than technology acquisition.
The whole Android thing is a red herring to me. Even if Google wanted to achieve hegemony over DOOH, they would not likely care what operating system was running on media players, any more than they care whether you access Google.com on a Mac or a PC, an iPhone or a Droid. They would care about where the ad revenue is flowing, how to make it flow faster and how to leverage existing Google infrastructure. That happens at the planning, buying and execution level. It does not happen at the player OS level. Besides, if the media player market was so attractive, it would attract Apple (if only it would), and iOS is a pretty competitive environment for app development and media management.
I applaud the anonymous DOOHdroid author for being excited and sparking a conversation. While Google is resourceful enough to immediately dominate the DOOH industry if it chose to, it is very unlikely that the button they would press would have a robot icon on it. Instead they will follow the money, and the button will have a dollar sign on it.