Out-of-home (OOH) advertising has reached an inflection point, driven by its data and technology transformation, yet it’s still far from its growth potential.
Having spent the majority of my career in technology and digital transformations, I was drawn to the possibilities of OOH a decade ago. Following a career in video games and the sale of a company, I leveraged that experience with an OOH music network. Using screens to engage consumers in 50,000+ venues, we used strong creative and a mobile app as an in-venue remote, reducing friction. Brands took notice and joined, driving significant yearly growth for the in-venue advertising business.
Fast forward to today — the broader implementation of technology and use of data has solidified OOH as more than just an effective reach medium. Whether it's a programmatic or digital screen, or a traditional billboard, OOH has evolved into a performance medium for driving outcomes aligned with marketers' goals, complementing other media.
Amidst the transformation, a fundamental question remains: Are marketers fully aware of OOH’s potential and taking advantage of it? By exploring the untapped potential and breaking down barriers, we can unlock opportunities for brands and agencies to fully leverage OOH as an advanced media platform.
The allure of OOH lies in its distinct ability to reach and influence consumers throughout the entire customer journey — from transit to retail, restaurants, theater and even point-of-sale. OOH advertising is equally effective for driving online engagement and transactions. In both scenarios, data and technology ensure consumer audiences receive the right message, at the right time.
What’s driving the growth in OOH?
OOH is projected to increase by 12.7% globally this year, reaching nearly $36 billion, with digital OOH (DOOH) growing to more than 26%, according to GroupM’s midyear forecast. Several tech advancements are fueling OOH’s growth, and one significant factor is the reduction of friction in buying ad space due to programmatic. With the rise of omnichannel demand-side platforms (DSPs), OOH inventory becomes accessible in real-time, streamlining the buying process.
Today, automation plays a pivotal role in resolving market fragmentation issues and streamlining the ad buying process, be it programmatic or for forward planning. The industry now has OOH platforms that aggregate and score billboards to simplify planning and buying. Despite the availability of automation tools, some OOH teams still rely on manual processes using Excel spreadsheets. Instead, they should embrace the abundance of new automation tools and platforms to increase efficiencies, enabling OOH teams to dedicate more time to higher-level strategies — driving greater value for advertisers.
Looking ahead, two additional drivers will further reduce friction and boost efficiency. Media owners like Lamar and Outfront now offer real-time inventory to planning platforms, eliminating back-and-forth emails. Additionally, AI in decision-making will revolutionize planning and buying, accelerating speed to market and information flow.
OOH has evolved into an outcomes-based medium far beyond the performance we delivered a decade ago, driving music and advertising in venues. With advanced measurement and attribution solutions, we can link OOH ad exposure to full-funnel outcomes. Thus, more advertisers are recognizing OOH’s value as the last touchpoint in the consumer's path to purchase. In a campaign for a leading national grocery brand, we achieved a 93% increase in visits and a total incremental in-store visits rise of 51% by targeting consumers with localized OOH ads in key DMAs to promote new store openings and product deals.
Data is reshaping the integration of OOH into omnichannel media buying. Advertisers can access valuable insights for optimizing OOH strategies, using audience segmentation, location-based targeting, and consumer behavior data. With private marketplace deals (PMPs), OOH inventory is made available within omnichannel DSPs, allowing seamless integration and a cohesive brand experience across touchpoints — making OOH more compelling for advertisers to reach precise audiences and drive measurable outcomes. In a programmatic DOOH campaign for a financial services brand, we achieved a 70% increase in website visits within the NY market. This audience was 6.2 times more likely to visit and 2.3 times more likely to convert due to exposure to the OOH ad.
The digital expansion of OOH is also pushing the creative boundaries. Innovative brands are leveraging cutting-edge tech like full-motion digital video, augmented reality, virtual reality and 3D creative to forge meaningful connections and viral moments. For example, the use of AR technology can turn a digital screen into an interactive ad that can generate coupons with the integration of QR codes.
Overcoming barriers with education.
Still, several perceived barriers to OOH hinder its potential for a larger media share among brands and agencies. For example, addressing fragmentation through automation and aggregation has made it easier for advertisers to access OOH — whether through a managed service or self-service tools. By democratizing inventory, advertisers can access the most effective inventory for their campaign goals. However, this valuable OOH benefit may not be apparent to those outside of the OOH world.
A lack of education and understanding about the possibilities of OOH has led to inertia and roadblocks that prohibit greater OOH adoption. Many agencies are squarely focused on the disruption in the TV marketplace and CTV growth, sidelining OOH. To foster greater adoption, agencies should recognize OOH's role in delivering reach, frequency, and outcomes. When I launched Premion, the first-to-market CTV ad platform, proving an emerging ad channel’s effectiveness was critical. I spent those early days educating the marketplace firsthand through agency lunch-and-learns. So, when partners offer education sessions, I recommend participating.
Amidst the shifts in the broader advertising market, marketers need to understand and keep pace with OOH’s advancements and its effectiveness for driving their business. By overcoming barriers through collaboration and education, and fully embracing OOH's transformation, brands and agencies can unleash the full potential of an unmatched creative and unmissable platform for reaching one-to-many at scale — while expanding its ad share.