DOOH advertising is due a programmatic supercharge

The next big vertical?

Digital out of home advertising is slowly but surely gaining a programmatic edge as the gap between an outdoor campaign and a online one grows ever smaller.

The billboard; advertising’s oldest friend. A trusty stallion. A sure fire winner. A media favourite.

The out of home poster has always been a popular choice for advertisers, creatives and media agencies thanks to it’s premium positioning, high-cut through and mass appeal. Perfect for driving huge amounts of brand awareness and efficient for getting effective ROI thanks to it’s high number of impressions and unmatched view-ability.

After all, a powerful out of home ad can’t be stopped by an ad-blocker and with the arrival of digital billboards a mere ten years ago, allowing for digital flexibility, the channel has been growing ever since.

Out-of-home (OOH) is projected to grow almost 12% in spend by 2020 – faster than any other traditional media – thanks to opportunities in digital, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. Digital OOH accounted for $2.7 billion in ad spend in the US last year. That’s some serious media spend.

The arrival of Digital OOH meant more creative flexibility for advertisers and the ability to be dynamic with their chosen creative (some DOOH billboards can pull in data via an API, like journey times or relevant statistics that support the messaging of the campaign). See below for a clever Virgin Trains ad that served frustrated motorway drivers with faster train times:

Naturally, as DOOH inventories grow and demand increases; media owners have been looking towards programmatic integrations that make digital billboards even more attractive thanks to optimisation and analytical elements that this kind of tech stack brings.

A programmatic stack would mean creative could be bought and sold in real time and performance data could be looped back in to inform future buys and real time creative performance, much like the strategic approach for traditional programmatic activity.

With a programmatic edge, DOOH can become just another piece of the digital inventory, a media spot that’s open to real time buying. However, unlike stock digital ads like banners and display, OOH is almost immune to the dreaded race to the bottom that saw the extreme commoditization of digital ad impressions (let’s face it, we all hate digital pop-up ads). This is due to DOOHs limited availability and careful placement (you don’t build an OOH site in a shoddy location because nobody would buy it).

“The great thing about Digital OOH is that there are really no bad placements, so there will also not be a race to the bottom like we had in display.”

-Digiday 2018

This is good for two reasons, the quality of OOH advertising should remain high and competitive and so should the price points and cost per impressions.

“OOH is physical real estate and there is a value and a limited amount of premium placements, keeping costs stable.”

– AdExchanger 2018

Despite programmatic OOH inventories growing year on year, the promise of programmatic remains a work in progress for the sector, despite taking on more of the familiar characteristics inherent in digital advertising.

Ruth Zohrer from Mindshare shared her thoughts on how programmatic bidding for out of home sites could potentially become a tiered process, where “Premium, high-impact locations could be sold in a pre-reserved way, and the rest slowly opening up to an auction mechanic of sorts, whether that’s private auctions for certain location-based packages or open auctions for more pervasive, lower impact formats.”

And finally, programmatic gatekeepers Google have been testing programmatic out of home inventories since 2015…

Google’s capacity to bring together its programmatic know-how and huge store of personal data could be a real game-changer for outdoor, particularly considering its unique access to mobile data from its Android network. In addition, Google are so well trusted with vendors that the transition would be seamless. However, the industry should be cautious to avoid a similar monopoly that Google DoubleClick left in its wake.

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