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Why Digital Out-of-Home Delivers the Agility Marketers Need for 2021

You can watch the full ‘Can digital make traditional media agile?' panel discussion on demand.

Watch the 'Can digital make traditional media agile?' panel on demand.

Digital Out Of Home is a surprise new contender as the solution to marketers’ perennial quest for agility; one that has been accelerated by the knock-on effects of the Coronavirus pandemic of 2019: Once seen as a relatively blunt marketing channel, best employed to generate brand awareness, traditional ‘bucket and paste’ Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising has evolved. Today, programmatic Digital OOH solutions are being utilized by brand creatives in ways which leverage the real-time agility and unique contextual capabilities of the format.

Digital Out Of Home advertising had been tipped to be the hot marketing format of 2020 – then the pandemic forced most of us to stay off the streets. Despite this obvious setback, which saw Q2 spending on digital OOH fall off a cliff, Alexie Lopez, director of DSP partnerships at Broadsign believes the underlying factors driving optimism towards the format have increased in relevance throughout the year.

“Firstly, more omnichannel DSPs such as Verizon Media are now integrating with OOH inventory. Secondly, there’s much more DOOH inventory available to could tap into, Lopez says.

Verizon Media’s Alice Beecroft, senior director of global business strategy, believes the pandemic and subsequent stop-start lockdowns seen in different regions have only increased interest in programmatic OOH as a channel, partly because it provides the real-time agility marketers need to cope with the ever-changing lockdown landscape.

“The technological advancements in the space - linking programmatic pipes to OOH digital screens - have been a game-changer for marketers. Until recently, digital OOH has been sold in a sort of silo and very focused on creating brand awareness. Brands are now realizing that this particular medium can deliver the flexibility and efficiencies of programmatic buying, but also leverage the unique context of location, to produce some really creative and engaging campaigns. Digital OOH can be as responsive and flexible a channel as social media,” Beecrofts argues.

Yasmin Andrews, product & strategy manager UK for Matterkind points to the example of how Aldi are currently measuring footfall data in their stores and incorporating that information into the creative being served via its Digital OOH ads. She adds: “Contemporary DOOH screens can also include voice or facial recognition tech which provides some amazing creative options. There was recently a motorcycle road safety campaign in New South Wales where screens on petrol pumps could recognize whether the user was riding a bike and wearing a helmet. If so, the campaign creative was triggered and served to the screen in front of them. That’s a lovely example of how in 2021 OOH can now be used to serve creative to niche audiences – even down to an individual level.”

Lopez agreed that voice recognition, in particular, has added relevance in a post-pandemic ‘touchless’ economy. He said: “I think we can expect to see the traditional electronic touchscreens you might encounter in shopping malls, for example, be phased out and replaced with digital OOH displays that rely on voice interaction instead.

“That’s said, programmatic OOH is still nascent for a lot of buyers, so it’s best not to get carried away too quickly,” he continues. The best approach is crawl first, then walk and then run. There’s a temptation to say, oh, it's programmatic, let's do all these cool things that we're doing with mobile. There needs to be a recognition that digital OOH is a unique format that requires dedicated creative thinking to fully exploit its capabilities. There's a big difference between a mobile banner ad and a New York Times Square billboard, and how a user engages with those formats.”

Andrews concludes: “The way I try to explain programmatic OOH when we're working with planners on campaigns is to break it down in terms of three types of data. Firstly, data for activation : what are the real time variables we can use to switch-on or switch-off a campaign? Secondly, what data can we overlay for targeting? That is, how can we better understand who we should be targeting in the first place? Finally, look at data in terms of creative optimization. What real-time information can feed back into our creative?”

Alexie Lopez, director, DSP partnerships, Broadsign, Alice Beecroft, senior director, global business strategy, Verizon Media, Yasmin Andrews, product and strategy manager UK, Matterkind were taking part in the ‘Can digital make traditional media agile’ panel (sponsored by Broadsign) at The Drum’s Digital Media Summit 2020, moderated by Gordon Young, co-founder & editor-in-chief, The Drum

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