Clear Channel Outdoor

Modernizing Clear Channel Outdoor via Apps and APIs Built on Heroku

Clear Channel Outdoor aligns the physical world of billboards with today’s digital advertising models.

What’s behind the billboard that you drive past every day? Traditionally, the lifecycle of an outdoor ad unit is heavily dependent upon a series of manual and paper-based processes. From sales to operations to client communications, it takes many steps by many people to sell an ad and get it installed on a billboard. However, the world’s oldest advertising industry has much to learn from the world’s newest—digital.

For over 110 years, Clear Channel Outdoor has helped to build brands and shape the out-of-home advertising industry, today reaching more than half a billion people per month globally. Inspired by the digital advertising model, the company has begun shifting their legacy processes and systems to increase efficiency and boost sales. Their long-term goal is to digitize their outdoor advertising business, including inventory access and purchase, centralized digital asset management, and automated communications.

APIs drive digital transformation, powered by Salesforce and Heroku

Clear Channel partnered with software development firm Trineo to help them strategize and build out their digital vision. Trineo specializes in developing custom business solutions using Salesforce and Heroku. Based on these two areas of expertise, one project team was tasked with architecting and developing complex sales tools using the Salesforce Platform. A second team focused on developing custom APIs and apps on Heroku for Clear Channel’s new digital inventory sales and management system.

We’re investing in Heroku because its cloud-based platform allows us to be agile and incremental in our approach to development. Without the worry of infrastructure, we’ve increased our efficiency and deployment speed, and we are achieving our goals faster than ever. Alex Porter, VP of Product Development, Clear Channel Outdoor


Together with Trineo, Clear Channel Outdoor built foundational APIs running on Heroku that consolidate and securely manage data from the company’s legacy systems. These APIs comprise the canonical source of truth for business data, and they broker data interchange and messages for back-end systems to consume. For example, when new inventory becomes available in a legacy system, real-time messaging to the API allows it to be exposed right away to API consumers and apps running on Heroku. The new custom API platform is allowing Clear Channel to rethink how its data is organized to align better with the company’s current way of thinking and longer-term strategy.

Trineo prefers to build apps with high-speed, high-concurrency requirements in Go, and the less concurrent core apps in Ruby, so they used the same languages for Clear Channel apps. Their front-end apps are usually written in pure JavaScript, and most of the Clear Channel apps were built using React. Identity management is handled by Auth0, using SAML-based authentication and ADFS endpoints for internal users. The team uses AWS, SQS, and SNS heavily to broadcast data that users are interested in via pub/sub mechanisms. They run their apps in both the Heroku Common Runtime and Heroku Private Spaces and use a range of Heroku Add-ons to extend their apps, including: a Heroku Postgres database, New Relic APM for monitoring, Papertrail for logging, Sentry for real-time crash reporting. Clear Channel’s new inventory apps connect to Salesforce using Salesforce APIs and SQS for message management.

Deploying on Heroku is a natural extension of our agile practice. Without the overhead of marshalling traditional infrastructure, we can focus on the frequent and iterative delivery of highly valuable, functional solutions in close partnership with our customers. Abhinav Keswani, CTO, Trineo


A portfolio of user-centric API-driven apps

Clear Channel is replacing paper-based processes with consumer-grade custom apps running on Heroku for employees and customers. Trineo helps Clear Channel design and build apps that are simple, purposeful, and even fun to use. New apps range from enabling employees to explore billboard inventory in their market; managing the day-to-day work of operations who maintain billboards and install new ads; and wowing customers with a showcase of their ad campaigns up and running on Clear Channel’s billboards. The new apps have given employees a new level of visibility into the company’s data, making it possible to check inventory or view photos of a current ad campaign in real-time on desktop and even on mobile.

With several successful app launches under their belt, the team is now shifting focus to sales and making it as easy to buy out-of-home advertising as it is to buy digital advertising.

I’m thrilled with how quickly we’ve been able to build new systems that deliver real value to our company. In partnership with Trineo, we’ve built a solid foundation on Heroku that will scale seamlessly as we continue to grow. Alex Porter, VP of Product Development, Clear Channel Outdoor


Employees reap early benefits

Although the work is still underway, Clear Channel employees have been happy with the increased efficiency and productivity of their new apps. Assets no longer sit on disparate, siloed systems but are more easily accessible and manageable. Data flows smoothly to core internal systems to trigger invoicing or other workflows. Digital processes have replaced cumbersome and time-consuming paper-based steps, streamlining operations. With these early successes in hand, the project team looks forward to delivering more core components to their new digital system in the coming year.