There’s no doubt that out-of-home (OOH) advertising remains big business in the UK, with digital screens and ads becoming increasingly dominant in the marketplace.

To this end, the number of active DOOH screens in Great Britain doubled between June 2017 and June 2020, peaking at 11,324 at the height of the coronavirus pandemic

Overall, the digital out-of-home market is expected to be worth more than $50 billion by 2026, with this marking a near-$10 billion increase on its previous 2020 iteration.

We’ve also seen the rise of programmatic DOOH in recent times, but what exactly does this mean and how can you leverage it to your business’s advantage?

Why Should You Use DOOH in the First Place?

The statistics certainly bear out the relevance and impact of DOOH, with this type of advertisement medium generating a particularly high recall for ads and positive customer attitudes.

This is according to a recent study carried out by Neilsen, which found that three-out-of-four respondents (75%) recalled seeing a digital billboard during the previous four-week period, while 60% noticed a digital ad during the last week.

This is driven by the unique and highly engaging nature of DOOH content, which is innately more memorable and likeable from the perspective of consumers. This may be particularly true when compared with traditional OOH media outlets, which can appear relatively mundane, staid and slightly lacking in creativity.

Certainly, the brightly lit and three-dimensional nature of DOOH ads allow for far greater levels of creativity and interaction than a flat image, even as digital screens continue to saturate the marketplace.

To this end, more than half (55%) of the 75% of respondents who had noticed a digital billboard during the previous month described themselves as being ‘highly engaged’, as they tended to recall the on-screen sponsored message almost every time they passed by.

Even on a fundamental level, the nature of DOOH is unskippable and largely immutable. More specifically, it displays interactive, video content in a fixed, offline location, enabling it to actively engage vast target audiences while melding with the natural environment in a seamless and non-intrusive manner.

This sets DOOH apart from other forms of digital advertising, allowing marketers to successfully leverage a form of content that’s proven to be 1200% more successful than other types of media on average.

This is more important than ever in the UK, where Millennials and younger consumers are increasingly cynical of video content and likely to have ad-blocker software installed on at least one of their devices.

Let’s not forget that customers also view DOOH ads in a particularly favourable light, with the same Neilsen study revealing that 72% consider this medium as “a cool way to advertise”.

Similarly, 65% believe the medium to be a good way to learn about new and small businesses in the area, echoing the wider perception that billboards as a whole represent an excellent way of building brand awareness within local communities and catchment areas.

OK, So What is Programmatic DOOH?

Now that you recognise the core nature and advantages of DOOH, you may be wondering what we mean by ‘programmatic DOOH’.

In simple terms, this represents an enhanced version of DOOH, which can be underpinned by various datasets and set criteria laid out in detail by individual advertisers.

For example, you may operate a fast food brand with outlets along a busy commuter or bus route. You may therefore decide that your core audience is young professionals who work or travel within the local areas, creating an opportunity to engage potential customers as they engage on their evening commute home.

In this instance, you may look to leverage programmatic DOOH by purchasing ad slots at specific times of the day, perhaps between the hours of 5pm and 6pm. 

This way, you can optimise your marketing spend and reach customers at a time when they’re most likely to engage with your brand, resulting in an enhanced return and sales conversion rate.

Interestingly, programmatic DOOH also enables you to tap into more complex criteria and factors, creating the opportunity for you to showcase live content and data feeds.

Not only does this enable you to display real-time information to a target audience, for example, but it allows you to showcase your creatives according to an array of different triggers, from variable weather, daily market fluctuations or even up-to-date sports results (depending on the product or service offering in question).

Given that DOOH and traditional outdoor media can also be combined with a host of other marketing channels as part of integrated campaigns (we’ll touch a little more on this later in the piece), programmatic digital ads clearly allow for an increasingly granular and targeting ad approach.

What are the Full Benefits of Programmatic DOOH?

There’s no doubt that the granular and data-led nature of programmatic DOOH is central to its appeal, especially in competitive markets where brands are looking to steal a march on their rivals.

After all, the deployment of refined datasets to create highly targeted ads translates into more effective campaigns, which in turn allows for a far greater return on your overall marketing spend over time.

Another key benefit of leveraging programmatic DOOH lies in the flexibility afforded to marketers, who can deliver their various creatives within time-frames and circumstances that optimise their reach.

This is borne out by the example used above, whereby brands can look to advertise their products and promotions at times when they benefit from optimal exposure and increased engagement levels.

Interestingly, we can look at the online food delivery brand Foodora to provide some context here. Not only did it utilise programmatic DOOH to share its messaging at key times of the day, for example, but it also tailored its content depending on whether it was advertising at lunch or dinner time.

It even factored in the live weather conditions in specific locations when adjusting its real-time messaging, encouraging patrons to go for a walk to pick up their food when it was sunny and suggesting that they should treat themselves when it was raining or miserable.

They could also direct customers to the closest restaurant depending on their precise location, creating an effective and highly reactive campaign that didn’t require continued micromanagement.

So, although programmatic DOOH doesn’t necessarily enable anything that cannot be accomplished with a direct buy, it does allow marketers significantly greater control over their campaigns and how creatives are presented.

Programmatic DOOH also makes a sizable difference in terms of the speed and efficiency of delivery, as you can share messaging much more quickly and to a larger number of people without having to make repeated direct buys.

It’s also arguable that programmatic DOOH allows for more interactive advertising, particularly when you factor in its potential to display live information and real-time news feeds.

On a final note, the growing appeal and popularity of programmatic DOOH means that more and more DSPs (demand-side platforms) are now getting on-board with this concept.

DSPs refer to systems that enable digital ad buyers to manage multiple advert and data exchange accounts through a single interface, while they’ve become integral to the efficient organisation of integrated marketing campaigns.

So, it’s now much easier to add DOOH to your multichannel campaigns, which is just one of the reasons why we’ve seen such an uptick in demand for this type of media in recent times.

The market leading music video brand XITE (which operates in the Netherlands) has certainly capitalised on this trend, using a multichannel DOOH, mobile and online programmatic campaign through the MobPro DSP to reach a staggering 250,000 festival-goers over the course of an entire summer this year.

How to Fully Utilise Programmatic DOOH

There’s still a tendency amongst some to view programmatic DOOH as an advanced and tech-led concept for the future, but underlying advancements in big data and integrated marketing have made this something that’s entirely relevant now.

So, the question that remains is how can you fully utilise programmatic DOOH for the benefit of your brand? Here are some ideas to keep in mind:

Ensure a Quick Start by Reformatting Existing Creatives

If you’re genuinely convinced of the value that programmatic DOOH can add to your business, we’d recommend being proactive and testing the waters with a minimal budget before looking to scale and initiate fully-fledged campaigns.

For a particularly quick and decisive start, you should consider reformatting existing creatives from mobile or online campaigns, negating the need to invest in new visuals or messaging. 

These carefully-selected creatives can then be utilised as part of a simple programmatic DOOH test run, allowing you to optimise the impact of your initial campaign and ensure that you record accurate results and insight.

Make the Most of Mobile Data Location

We’ve seen a considerable crossover between OOH and mobile ad channels of late, with the result that mobile data location is now being widely used to plan and execute located-based marketing and audience targeting.

Such datasets are integral to programmatic DOOH, as they enhance the granularity of pre-campaign audience identification and enable brands to target specific demographics with far greater efficiency.

They can leverage mobile location data to access real-time information too, allowing for the customisation of certain messages and creating the opportunity to engage traffic in the most relevant and effective manner.

Remember, mobile location data lets you react in real-time to changing conditions and time-frames in target regions, so you can effectively converse with your audience and establish a far more immersive level of interaction.

Utilising a DSP that supports both mobile channels and programmatic DOOH makes the process of leveraging mobile location data far easier, while this ensures consistency both in terms of your approach and eventual outcomes.

Leverage Travel Surveys and 3D Maps to Target High Traffic Areas

While there may be several degrees of separation between DOOH and traditional out-of-home media, there are also numerous elements that continue to unite them.

For example, it’s imperative that both traditional and digital billboards are placed in strategically targeted locations, ideally those that benefit from increased levels of footfall and offer access to specific demographics.

So, regardless of which type of ad you’re looking to install as part of your campaign, you’ll need to access the same insight and resources when targeting the best possible locations.

 

For example, travel surveys are an excellent resource if you intend to identify audiences and determine the best locations for erecting digital ads. This ensures that your DOOH messaging shows in high-footfall areas, which optimises exposure and generates the highest possible number of impressions (and hopefully leads).

Remember, DOOH billboards typically require advertisers to share space with non-competitive firms, usually rotating up to six different sponsored messages over recurring, 60-second periods.

So, there’s a pressing need to leverage detailed travel surveys so that you can afford your message the best possible chance of success.

Travel surveys are based on a representative population, and while they used to be driven by memory and the first-person accounts of the participants, they now tend to rely on the recording of specific movements through a smartphone or similar device that has GPS capacity.

Modern-day smartphones may even incorporate accelerometers, barometers and compasses, allowing you to determine the mode of transport that target customers are using and even the individual stores or buildings that they visit.

Ultimately, this type of insight is crucial if you’re to successfully target high-football areas for your programmatic DOOH ads and measure the impact of your campaign over an extended period of time.

 

Interestingly, you could even use a 3D map or visibility adjustment indices and combine such tools with travel survey data to gain similar (albeit more granular) insight.

For example, while travel survey data can help to detail footfall, customer movements and the number of impressions generated by a particular ad, a 3D map allows you to present this information in a corporeal and relevant context. 

More specifically, you can see the precise location of your ad and how it interacts with the surrounding environment, identifying any potential visibility issues and conflicts in the process. 

You can also begin to understand whether your ad location successfully capitalises on the flow and movement of surrounding traffic, or whether changes may be required going forward.

Ultimately, these fundamental tools enable you to determine the viability of your programmatic DOOH and wider out-of-home campaign, which is crucial if you’re to spend your marketing budget wisely over time.

The Last Word

So there you have it; our guide to programmatic DOOH, its core advantages and how you can leverage it successfully as a business-owner.

Certainly, programmatic DOOH has ushered in the very latest iteration of tech-led marketing techniques, allowing for more granular and informed campaigns across an array of industries.

What’s more, it’s now easier than ever to incorporate and manage programmatic DOOH as part of an integrated marketing campaign, so now may be the ideal time to get on board!