Media Planning and Buying Technology JCDecaux

Programmatic and out-of-home advertising still have a lot to learn from each other


By Hannah Bowler, Senior Reporter

April 26, 2022 | 6 min read

As part of The Drum’s Digital Advertising Deep Dive, we find out how programmatic out-of-home (OOH) advertising boomed during the pandemic, with the tech allowing advertisers to almost instantly pause or scale back campaigns – something that has always been a challenge for traditional OOH.

The Drum award winning OOH campaign from Albert Heijn and JCDecaux

The Drum Awards-winning OOH campaign from Albert Heijn and JCDecaux

Out of the recent programmatic out-of-home boom, innovation has flourished says Dorota Karc, head of programmatic at WallDecaux, portfolio of JCDecaux German subsidiary Wall GmbH. But, she tells us, there is still a lot more learning to be done.

“It’s a fresh and new industry,” says Karc, who is also a judge of The Drum Awards for Digital Advertising 2022. “The arranged marriage between programmatic and out-of-home is completely new and we’ve got a lot to learn from each other.”

Programmatic essentially uses automated technology to buy and manage ad spots and, in the case of digital out-of-home (DOOH), it means campaign delivery times can be cut from a day to one hour. The reactive nature of programmatic DOOH, according to Karc, means “you are able to communicate with the audience flexibly and adapt to changes quickly”.

Programmatic also allows for quicker delivery of ‘trigger’ campaigns that react to changes such as pollution and the weather. This is also possible via traditional OOH, but it has to be pre-booked and can’t be switched off or optimized. “Programmatic OOH is almost real-time, which is very exciting, but a lot of clients still aren’t aware of what is possible,” says Karc.

Along with the flexibility argument, Karc tells us that there are “operational efficiencies” as programmatic allows advertisers to steer campaigns in one demand-side platform (DSP) across all media owners. Programmatic can also be of benefit when running campaigns across multiple territories. “In the past, if you wanted to book a huge campaign, you would have to book from a representative from each country. Now, however, you can steer it all from one place, which is a huge advantage.”

Karc is upfront about programmatic DOOH’s drawbacks, however. One common problem she has found is: “You can easily run out of availability, which is something the programmatic industry doesn’t know because in programmatic the availability is always there.”

She also says the industry needs to strive toward global technological trading standards as it comes out of its development phase. “One such critical standards is impression multiplier, which is a calculation used to determine the impression per ad play for an individual DOOH screen. Since OOH is one-to-many medium, it means that one ad play can deliver multiple impressions, which in traditional OOH are called contacts. The supply-side platform (SSP) and demand-side platform (DSP) technology needs to adapt to this, so the bid requests are sent essentially per plays, then calculated into impressions based on the multiplier values.

“It’s still not 100% because we are still building it and there are a lot more developments to come.”

Who is using programmatic OOH?

There are specific types of clients coming to WallDecaux for programmatic, Karc says. They tend to be digital agencies, specialist media agencies such as Talon or Kinetic, and D2C clients that often haven’t booked OOH before. Specialist agencies are using programmatic OOH to supplement their existing OOH strategy for flexibility and optimization.

A programmatic OOH case study

In 2021, JCDecaux ran a programmatic OOH campaign for Albert Heijn that won at The Drum Awards having resulted in a 30% uplift of new customers from the Dutch supermarket’s target audience and a 26% uplift in footfall to stores. Albert Heijn wanted to increase footfall during the summer months when its customers were on holiday, so its programmatic and mobile campaign tapped into mobile location data to determine when and where its target audience could be reached. Using this data, 73 postcodes across the Netherlands were served ads to drive them in-store, with specific promotions displayed according to their nearest Albert Heijn supermarket using store inventory data.

Karc urges advertisers to throw out the programmatic rule book when it comes to OOH. “There is a challenge that if a programmatic specialist buys OOH, they will implement their programmatic creative strategy and it will not work because OOH requires a completely different approach to creativity.” In programmatic you book context, but that doesn’t work with out-of-home as there are many different contexts so you have to rethink how to plan.

Even though she is a proponent of programmatic, Karc isn’t so bullish as to suggest it’s the only way brands should approach OOH. “It isn’t here to replace traditional out-of-home. If you would still like to book traditionally, you should. It’s still a rich medium if you want to scale.”

Read more from The Drum’s latest Deep Dive over at our Digital Advertising hub.

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