Digital OOH Will No Longer Be a Niche Specialty in Marketing

Programmatic will make it a must-have for all

Digital out of home and programmatic will go hand-in-hand. Getty Images

There are plenty of good reasons to be bullish about digital-out-of-home (DOOH) in 2019. For one thing, this dynamic emerging media category is on track to more than double its total market value from $12.5 billion in 2016 to $26 billion by 2023. Even better, 60 percent of media planners report including DOOH in their media plans, according to a recent survey.

The real game-changer for DOOH will be the arrival of programmatic at scale. Here’s what marketers need to understand.

Programmatic is driving a common market

Historically, DOOH was hobbled by a go-it-alone mentality on the supply side. But just as programmatic helped push publishers and advertisers to use common metrics online, it’s doing the same thing for DOOH. Increasingly, DOOH provider networks, with bespoke metrics and technical specifications, are converging to a unified market with standard specifications and universal metrics.

Where DOOH was once the domain of a siloed specialist, all marketers going forward will need to have some fluency with DOOH and its capabilities.

This convergence will not only allow advertisers to better understand their DOOH spend from one provider to the next, but it will also empower media planners to think about DOOH within a larger holistic, cross-channel media context. In order to do that, marketers will need to update their approach to DOOH. Where DOOH was once the domain of a siloed specialist, all marketers going forward will need to have some fluency with DOOH and its capabilities.

Programmatic will scale DOOH and make it audience-centric

Out-of-home was once a finite channel, thanks to the limitations of physical space. But those limits no longer apply in a programmatic world. Screens of all sizes, from the giant billboards in Times Square to the tiny monitors at the gas pump, are increasingly common. Just as important, each screen can carry numerous messages, thanks to programmatic. But while scale opens up a new universe of inventory, the opportunity isn’t just about placement.

One of the best ways to think about the evolving DOOH market is as the ultimate arena for testing creative on audiences. One possibility is for marketers to identify ZIP codes with similar audiences to A/B test creative. Another option is to A/B test creative against the same audience on alternating days.

But it’s not just about finding the most impactful creative.

Ultimately, programmatic transforms DOOH from a relatively static engagement to one that’s audience-centric because placements can be segmented and sequenced based on audience journey and time of day. As marketers build their DOOH expertise, it will even be possible to leverage DOOH’s real-world presence in order to tell stories that progress from one day to the next, giving consumers a narrative that develops over time.

In the past, we tended to think of outdoor as a siloed medium or channel. But DOOH isn’t about the medium, it’s about the audience. Advertisers should think of DOOH as part of a cross-channel, video agnostic strategy that integrates all screens, from mobile to desktop to advanced TV. Viewed from that framework, DOOH is freed from its historic constraints.

Going forward, DOOH can be either local or national. It can play a role at any phase of the consumer journey, from the top of the funnel to the very bottom. Put simply, DOOH can be the last moment of truth before purchase, the first impression or some touchpoint in the middle. But above all, DOOH is an opportunity to capture your audience’s attention wherever they happen to be.

Katie Ford is chief client officer at Amobee.