Out of home (OOH) represents the fastest growing advertising medium, in part due to its growing accessibility. While OOH is still primarily bought and sold in a traditional, direct fashion, the channel’s adoption of programmatic has made it available and affordable to a larger range of buyers and advertisers.
According to the DPAA there are now well over one million digital screens in the U.S. This growth can be explained by the ongoing adoption of DOOH by agencies and brands. The growing demand continues to motivate media owners to convert more of their static placements into digital screens. This year, U.S. DOOH ad spend is projected to accelerate sharply at an 8.9% CAGR. It is projected to reach $4.43 billion in 2025 for a 37.1% share of total U.S. OOH ad revenue, according to PQ Media.
U.S. programmatic OOH ad spending is projected to grow 56% in 2022. An impressive growth rate but programmatic will still only make up 5% of all OOH and 17% of DOOH ad spend in 2022, according to the OAAA. OOH’s programmatic allocation pales compared to its representation across other digital channels: 90% of all digital display dollars will transact programmatically with video accounting for more than half of all US programmatic display ad spending in 2022, per eMarketer.
Programmatic OOH gives marketers the agility and speed they need to operate in today’s ever-changing world. With no spend commitments or guarantees, advertisers can shift budget fluidly across media owners, venues types, or locations. Creative can be customized and swapped in near real time and contextual triggers can be layered on to match messaging with real world happenings.
The benefits of programmatic buying such as aggregated inventory, flexibility, and control are mirrored across all advertising channels, including OOH. And while its simple enough to extend a desktop campaign to include mobile, layering in OOH can be trickier than it may appear. A few top of mind but impactful differences between pDOOH and other programmatic channels include the following:
--When a display or video ad is served, it’s counted as one impression. When a DOOH ad is served it represents multiple impressions, the exact count of which can vary widely across screens, environments, and media owners. Even the methodology used to count an impression will differ between suppliers.
--Display ad sizes have been standardized and widely adopted across the open web. DOOH ads have no standard dimensions or sizes. A single programmatic campaign can require up to 10-20 different ad sizes and four different video lengths in order to access all relevant and available inventory.
--Contextual targeting follows common sense rules; news content consists of news sites and apps, cooking content consists of recipe sites and apps, etc. Endemic buying in OOH is less clear. “Gyms” may include both traditional fitness centers as well as sports arenas and ice-skating rinks.
--While marketers now have easier access to programmatic OOH via omnichannel DSPs, a successful execution often requires a specialists’ knowledge, strategy, and experience to navigate the nuances of programmatic OOH.
Avoid Pitfalls of Opaque Inventory
In a complex and highly fragmented OOH media buying environment, advertisers need to understand what they are buying. The current standards used to categorize programmatic OOH environments or venue types are too broad to clearly capture all the screens they represent.
“Gyms” include both fitness centers and ice-skating rinks, “salons” include women’s salons, nail salons, barber shops, and tattoo parlors. When considering a contextually targeted or endemic buy, an unknowing advertiser may select salons believing they are likely to reach one demographic while instead reaching a broad mix. The same is true for other categories including gyms, urban panels, transit and more.
These high-level buckets, represented in most standard omnichannel and OOH-specific DSPs, omit the details a media buyer needs to set up a successful campaign. To ensure campaigns deliver across the right media, advertisers can outsource their OOH campaigns to a specialist or work with a specialist to curate preferred (or audience targeted) inventory and rates via custom PMP deal. The latter approach allows advertisers or hands on keyboard buyers to maintain control of their campaign while confidently executing OOH through their preferred DSP.
Know What Campaigns Are Best Suited for Programmatic OOH
Many advertisers have shifted most if not all of their display and video budgets to programmatic over direct. That instinct may also exist when buyers are initially introduced to OOH but it’s important to note that programmatic is not always the best buying tactic to execute in this channel.
Advertisers who know exactly which screen or screens they want to run on should evaluate a direct buy before looking into programmatic. Several high impact placements, such as Times Square inventory in NYC cannot be purchased programmatically. Additionally, delivery guarantees are more difficult to achieve running programmatically versus directly. A programmatic buy will also incur added technology fees allocated to the various DSP, SSP, and other players who support programmatic pipes.
Conversely, programmatic is very well suited for the following sampling of use cases:
--Campaigns that need to be launched/executed quickly
--Campaigns planning to shift budget across inventory types or geographies
--Campaigns incorporating creative swaps or utilizing contextual triggers such as weather, pollen count, sports scores, traffic, and more
--When an advertiser would like a footprint in a particularly expensive market
--When an advertiser would like their budget spread across several different media owners and environments (direct buys often come with minimum spend levels and commits)
Unlike programmatic display and video which can be utilized successfully for nearly any advertiser campaign, it’s important to consider campaign goals, targeting, and more when tapping into programmatic OOH.
Programmatic Buying is Supplemental to Direct & Upfront OOH Buying
Despite the clear benefits of programmatic, direct will continue to make up the majority of OOH ad spend this year. Traditional, static placements play an important role in delivering scale, share of voice and cost-effective reach in the real world. Many advertisers still prefer to hand select or approve each individual placement in their plans rather than leveraging data for audience targeting or relying on specialist strategies.
Looking ahead, programmatic will not replace direct buys but instead act as a complementary approach. There will continue to be advertisers and scenarios where one approach makes more sense than the other — or scenarios where the two, programmatic and direct, should work together to maximize effectiveness of a particular campaign.
Programmatic OOH offers new methods of execution and access to traditional OOH buyers and novel access to buyers who have yet to tap into the channel. For either type of advertiser, an expert team will help ensure dollars are well spent and desired outcomes are achieved. Specialized knowledge of the channel, data and technology allow for expert inventory selection, preferred pricing, and strategic planning to simplify the process and unlock the full potential of OOH.