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Creative Media Planning and Buying Programmatic Digital Out of Home

UK media leaders say programmatic will be the ‘gamechanger’ for DOOH’s future


By Jenni Baker | Senior Editor

August 15, 2023 | 10 min read

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As excitement and budgets for digital out-of-home grow, we brought leaders from the buy and sell sides together to create the ‘DOOH-print’ to unlock its full potential – here’s what they had to say.  

The Drum assembled leaders from Dentsu, Matterkind, Media.Monks, NP Digital, Jellyfish, Alight Media, Clear Channel Europe and Sage+Archer \ Vistar Media

The Drum assembled UK media leaders for a conversation to chart the path for DOOH's future

Ad investment in digital out-of-home (DOOH) is set to grow 13.2% in 2023 to reach $11.5bn, fast outpacing any other channel. As a medium, the advertising benefits are clear: a mass reach brand awareness play that can’t be reached in other channels, now balanced with the ability to optimize ad spend against performance KPIs, as it enters the next phase: programmatic OOH. 

Despite an influx of new data sources and methodologies transforming the way DOOH media is planned, transacted, and measured, DOOH’s share of the market is still relatively small. The gamechanger, experts say, will be programmatic, bringing digital money into OOH for it to be able to grow. With strong foundations already in place, what will it take for this to happen? 

To explore what this infrastructure should look like, The Drum assembled leaders from Dentsu, Matterkind, Media.Monks, NP Digital, Jellyfish, Alight Media, Clear Channel Europe and Sage+Archer \ Vistar Media, to discuss and design the ‘DOOH-print’ for success.   

There’s a consensus that all parties are strongly invested in shaping its future, and that more consolidation, collaboration, education, communication and standardization, will be key for unlocking growth and budgets in DOOH.   

Is it time for a DOOH dynamic? 

The first point raised in conversation was where programmatic DOOH sits in the media buying mix and the importance of speaking the same language across teams for a unified approach, rather than “cannibalizing what we’re already doing,” says Helen Bull, OOH trading director, Dentsu.   

“Programmatic DOOH is fantastic in terms of the targeting capabilities it gives clients with better outcomes, but we must be careful about creating more fragmentation in an already fragmented channel,” she says. “DOOH and OOH are starting to be talked about in two completely different camps – and I’m not sure whether that’s sustainable. Bringing digital spend into the OOH industry is a big win and that’s where the focus needs to be. To do that, we need to start speaking in digital language and apply it across all OOH – that can only be beneficial in the long term.”  

The OOH world tends to navel gaze in the same way the technology and programmatic worlds do – but the simple principle with technology is that automation is about making life more efficient and simpler for brands, buyers, and media owners – and working together to capture the billions of dollars that are going into Google and Meta’s pockets. That’s the collective objective.   

“The way technology is coming through is interesting as it demonstrates that one of the oldest advertising formats in the world also has the potential to be the most interesting, innovative and abstract,” says Jon Mundy, commercial director, Sage + Archer/ Vistar Media. “And we don’t have to worry about Google and Meta being in our faces taking our budgets, so we can concentrate on building a really amazing experience, which we have control of.”  

Taking a leaf out of the digital giants’ playbook 

To help the DOOH industry grow, there are lessons to take from the programmatic digital industry, says Ben Brown, senior vice-president of media, EMEA, Media.Monks: “You’ve got to take the best learnings of aggregated data, insight, ease of access, ease of platform and learn from the programmatic giants. That’s what [DOOH] can be as an industry, combined with the stardust of OOH – a format that you just can’t get anywhere else.”  

But the real opportunity comes from finding better ways of working and forms of communication between programmatic and OOH teams to be able to integrate DOOH across full media plans.  

“We need to make sure both sides of the coin are working together and have open communication between teams to share their expertise,” says Bryony Keen, product and strategy director, Matterkind. “If we take the good parts of programmatic and addressable media, with the support from OOH publishers and platforms, we’ve got a good chance to maximize on the benefits of utilizing both ways of buying together.”  

“It’s about trying to democratize access to premium inventory,” says Dom Dunne, programmatic commercial lead, Europe, Clear Channel Europe. “What we often see is continued collaboration between the different media buying entities to coexist, swap skills and blend competencies and capabilities. There’s a bunch of different capabilities the channel can deliver, leveraging new technologies and datasets, while retaining an understanding of what’s impactful.”  

With programmatic DOOH, there are three types of data: data for insights, data for optimization and data for measurement/impact, says Natasha Wallace, vice-president, strategy, Jellyfish.

“For digital OOH to take a greater share of the digital investment we’re pushing through all these other environments, it has to satisfy all three of those buckets – that’s the real growth opportunity, to extract as much value as I can from all the buys we’re doing across every single ecosystem, so being able to push upstream and actually have insights, beyond just being able to measure the effectiveness.”  

By creating experiences that integrate systems, tech measurement, the application of data and the extraction of insights, she says, this enables a big opportunity for programmatic DOOH to scale.  

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From scale to service: unlocking new programmatic budgets for DOOH 

As the programmatic DOOH space develops, media owners and technology partners are innovating with more seamless ways to integrate different platforms to remove the manual process and automate the things where it just doesn’t make sense to ask humans to do.  

“There’s no better tool to attract great talent than to automate routine tasks and allow them to do more interesting things,” says Wallace. “Tech liberates us and creates accountability – and with an automation and tech mindset, businesses are going to be better for it.” 

The more connected and complementary approach that DOOH offers, with interoperability between platforms and integrations is bringing about true collaboration, allowing everyone to do things smarter, better and faster – and with more flexibility and creativity.  

This momentum behind programmatic DOOH has the potential to open opportunities by democratizing inventory with self-serve options, giving agencies transparency and accountability to better guide clients to scale, without having to piece it all together themselves.   

“What programmatic and automation is now enabling is media owners to say buy what you want when you want it,” says Darren McKay, director of data and technology, Alight Media. “The idea of being able to encourage the longer tail of advertisers and brands to come into digital OOH because they have choice and can self-serve their own content and make that decision on where and when, how long and how many impressions you want to buy. I love that because I’ve always believed that inflexibility has been one of the things that has held OOH back.”  

This accessibility is an exciting proposition for agencies, as Larissa Green, vice-president, strategy and commercial development, NP Digital, says: “There is a lot of insight and value to learn from traditional media buyers but I think the excitement will come client side with the opportunity to use these types of formats. As we get more data for audience targeting into campaigns and with transparency of pricing, we’ll be able to make it an interesting offer for them in terms of how we can vote on KPIs and add them in, to grow their business.”  

It's clear that there’s a collective wall across all sides to get this right to enable the growth for more digital money to come into OOH. With the ‘DOOH-print’ in place, the future of programmatic DOOH is bright – combining the magic of OOH with a data-driven approach to drive more efficacy and effectiveness, helping to move the needle for brands in driving KPIs and objectives.  

Creative Media Planning and Buying Programmatic Digital Out of Home

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Sage+Archer, a Vistar Media company, is the most advanced demand-side platform for buying digital out-of-home advertising. Trusted by brands and agencies, we give buyers control over how they engage with consumers in the real world, using data-driven targeting, dynamic creative and measurement to deliver effective and efficient advertising.

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