NEW YORK, Jan. 7, 2019 /PRNewswire/

MediaMath claims to have achieved a first within the omnichannel advertising space by purchasing digital out-of-home through a partnership with Place Exchange. According to MediaMath this is the first time that digital out-of-home ads were purchased programmatically through the same campaigns as other online and mobile media and reported using the same metrics – conversions, response rates and impressions etc.


Digital out-of-home (DOOH) has been around for some time now. The term typically refers to digital media that can be seen in areas accessible to the public. This can vary from content shown on large digital billboards to smaller digital signboards and even TV screens targeted at very small groups or individuals.

Apparently DOOH has now made it into the toolkit that was until recently reserved for web and mobile based programmatic advertising. How is this relevant? Read on.

DOOH presents a number of advantages and unique opportunities over and above the traditional options afforded by ‘non-D’ OOH. We’ll outline a few of them.

Content Opportunities

Whereas with traditional billboards the same static image would often stay in place for weeks, digital means that content can change every few seconds. Combined with the dynamic opportunities for the content itself, there is the potential to keep viewers far more engaged – from one static image for one brand or product on a wall for weeks to multiple dynamic ads for different products, potentially changing every few seconds. And improved audience engagement is a clear advantage for any medium.

In addition to the content itself being dynamic, the content can also be made to react to a variety of situations and circumstances. Weather of course is an obvious factor with messages changing based on whether it’s sunny or raining. The result of a big sporting event that may have just finished or a piece of breaking news present advertisers with limitless possibilities to create messages and campaigns driven by the most immediate of contexts. In other words, context sensitivity can not only improve audience engagement but can also offer tangible added value to the audience, which makes for a better brand experience.

The above features largely mirror this already available in ‘traditional’ digital media, which are routinely equipped with in-depth analytics and responsiveness. But a unique aspect of most forms of DOOH is that viewers don’t have the same control to block or skip content like they would on their own device or screen. This causes advertisers and marketers to be newly excited by this re-invigoration and re-invention of a traditional platform that has been around in a traditional and largely unchanged way for decades.

To hear more about DOOH and specifically what being able to buy programmatically means for the industry, we spoke with Zachary King, VP, Commercial, Asia at MediaMath.

We started by asking Zachary, in broad terms, the opportunity to buy DOOH programmatically might mean to an advertiser.

Zachary started by making the important distinction between DOOH and programmatic and reminded us that whilst DOOH is a channel, programmatic is simply a way of buying that (and all other) channel.

‘Simply put’, he said, ‘there is now the opportunity to include DOOH inventory alongside your video, TV display etc., when running an omnichannel campaign. It allows for a consolidated view of your campaign and, put simply, means that you can now buy DOOH from your DSP.’

He added that ‘With DOOH, a key difference is that you’re not buying a personal device – you’re buying a screen that can be seen by many people and this means that there are similarities with the other emerging area that is connected TV.’

We then asked Zachary how the measurement systems that a lot of us have become familiar with as they pertain to personal devices translate to the DOOH environment. He explained that instead of dealing with cookies and pixels where we can get a sense of direct conversion, with DOOH the key term is ‘ad slot’. This refers to a certain time in a certain position. Attribution can be worked with a local partner – possibly a supply partner – who will have data related to traffic in the area. From this a version of impressions can be calculated. Working at a more granular level with a hyperlocal partner who may, for example, have store footfall data, we can begin to measure conversion rates.

We asked Zachary that, given the efficiencies and speed of getting content onto screens (no one up a ladder pasting posters), what kinds of innovative things did he see possible that advertisers could be tempted with.

‘DOOH is a great opportunity to blend offline with online. With the data sources that exist in the US, data mapping and blending shopper data with footfall data can lead to some very insightful campaigns. In Asia those same data sets don’t exist, but with footfall traffic and also overlaying data sets (weather being a good example) onto messaging, there is great potential for DOOH.’

Some people may remember the British Airways digital billboard in Piccadilly Circus in 2013 that featured a boy pointing upwards when an actual BA plane was flying over and his being able to tell us what flight it was and from where because of a custom-built data layer.

What kind of advertisers did Zachary think would be first adopters?

‘Fast food and retailers, as I see DOOH sitting more with branding rather than performance. Although, one way where Asia leads the world is with QR codes and, as a call to action there are real opportunities here.’

Zachary speculates that interactivity could become more widespread with DOOH making it feel more like our personal digital space where we’re used to not only interacting with advertiser’s content, but also blocking it – something we can’t do with a lot of DOOH.

We concluded by asking Zachary if he could summarise what buying DOOH programmatically means.

‘So, in addition to the usual demographic considerations as part of a programmatic campaign e.g. what websites your target audience may visit, an understanding of where people (physically) are at 10.00 am in the morning or 5.00 pm in the evening is now an input for those advertisers running truly omnichannel campaigns.

‘DOOH advertisers and marketers can now do that all in one place and see consolidated results.’

Whilst the enduring image of ‘Minority Report’-type interactions may be a way off, we can all probably get used to the idea of more screens in our lives when we’re out and about. With this inventory being bought increasingly programmatically, it remains to be seen whether it will blend more into the seamless background of other omnichannel campaigns we’re already exposed to or if it goes more the way of some re-targeting ads.


Editor: Carl Griffith

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