Out Of Home JC Decaux Media Planning and Buying

Inside the rise (and rise) of programmatic DOOH


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

February 7, 2023 | 9 min read

With its digital ad network now nearly 100% programmatic, JCDecaux UK’s Dom Kozak explains how agencies are embracing the technology to improve the performance of campaigns.


Programmatic DOOH is booming – but who’s buying?

Over the last few years, and particularly during the pandemic, out-of-home (OOH) providers built out their digital screen networks. Moving from static to digital screens made the media easier to cycle through, and for agencies, much easier to buy. Now, recent research from JCDecaux UK entitled ‘Programmatic DOOH: The Time is Now’ has detailed just how quickly the space is growing.

Illustrating this, most of 4,514 UK of JCDecaux's digital screens can be bought programmatically. Dom Kozak, head of programmatic at JCDecaux UK, reflects on who is buying the media and why.

Programmatic DOOH is maturing

Kozak reflects that all the biggest players in the UK now have bespoke programmatic digital out-of-home (DOOH) solutions. JCDecaux's solution has been in the works since 2018. On the other side of the supply chain, meanwhile, “the sophistication of the DSPs have really rocketed in the last year [so that the medium is] adding value at an omnichannel level.”

The research found that most of the people buying programmatic digital out-of-home are in integrated omnichannel digital teams. This is instructive for two reasons, one it tells us where the required skillset to buy the media is, and where more budget can be drawn into the space.

54% of programmatic DOOH buyers are involved in the planning and buying of at least one digital channel. 58% of marketers that plan and/or buy programmatic DOOH are part of hybrid teams that are also responsible for display (66%), connected TV (61%), in-app (60%), programmatic audio (53%) and video (50%). This broad set of disciplines indicates the media is accessible to almost anyone with some form of digital experience. The spread also hints that there may be a lack of standardized teams for this media at this moment. Kozak thinks it may remain this way for the foreseeable too.

Now he says: “With programmatic DOOH, you can ensure you have cohesive planning by priming the private, the public screens and the OOH. You can improve your measurement by combining mobile with OOH, linking the offline and online worlds.”

When quizzed on where the additional investment is coming from into DOOH, Kozak believes that it is coming from a wider array of digital channels. “The size of the teams and the number of clients they have skews towards those kinds of budgets.” Programmatic DOOH has succeeded in making OOH easily accessible to digital marketers.

The speed of execution now available is also attractive to marketers. Kozak says many digital marketers shift spend from underperforming assets into programmatic DOOH at the last minute to save campaign KPIs. This agility simply wasn’t available just a few years ago.

And finally, due to ad appearances on DOOH being fleeting, the cost of entry is much more agreeable to brands with smaller budgets. He points to one issue outlined in the research, however: measurement.

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“For the practitioners who can figure out that performance link, it absolutely works. But it is not the easiest thing in the world to do,” he says.

And that's because of the broad amount of applications DOOH can have, as well as the many methodologies than can be employed to measure. Kozak admits this will vary by brand, brief, objectives, agencies and partners’ capabilities.

As bullish as this head of programmatic is, and as dominant as it is on the revenue sheets, the growth of programmatic DOOH doesn’t spell the end of static, traditional OOH. Some sites deliver well enough but are unlikely to pay off the costs of transformation. Others will always be denied planning permission if they are for example in close proximity to public housing. Additionally, it’s the view of the industry to have fewer, more effective sites and DOOH. It’s how the transformation is often pitched to local authorities.

On traditional OOH, Kozak harkens back to medieval monk brewery murals and the like, it’s here to stay he assures. “It is brand safe, it is public. It is OG contextual. You can’t tell lies in public, that drives trust.”

The mediums are performing different functions too with static placements being placed higher up the funnel on a brand awareness and trust level. Whereas, the programmatic DOOH can drive more immediate outcomes. He projects: “The future is programmatic, but not exclusively.”

When paired with third-party data, there is extra granularity that can be layered into the buy too. Kozak points to its partnership with Tesco and Dunnhumby, whose outdoor screens are biddable on the network. When linked with its sales data, the OOH vendor knows the peak sale times of (for example) bread at each site and can advise clients. For the agencies willing to experiment and optimize, each plan can be honed and tested in such a manner.

Examples of programmatic DOOH campaigns

JC Decaux shared four campaign case studies allaying the various ways the tech has been deployed over the last few years.

One small-format Burger King campaign in Germany was specifically targeted at “fast-food lovers”. The sites had to be within close proximity to Burger King restaurant. During the duration of the campaign, real-time footfall data from Adsquare via Splicky DSP enabled it to double down on the screens that it deemed were driving footfall. The programmatic element enabled the agency partner to think on its feet and get the most bang for its buck.

In the UK, M&S used the tech differently. Its creative was more product led and the dynamic ad placements were sensitive to local stock levels and sales data. Luisa Lee, head of marketing at M&S, briefed the team to “show the customer what they are interested in and convert that into a sale as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, New Look was looking to drive brand awareness and drive footfall for those interested in its Anne-Marie range. With help from Hivestack’s Custom Audiences solution, the campaign was geo-targeted to help identify four key audience groups. This saw a 63% increase in-store visits and a 67% lift across New Look competitors

Meanwhile, in Singapore, Schroders’ ‘Beyond Profit’ campaign leveraged programmatic DOOH and mobile retargeting with Yahoo to increase brand awareness. Certain creative was run during peak hours. Other bits were more intent on slower weekend traffic.

There will be many more applications discovered and toyed with in the future. But the vast many approaches are why measurement of these activations still remains tricky.

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