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How has programmatic DOOH evolved in the last 12 months? New research reveals all

By Dom Kozak

JCDecaux

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April 3, 2024 | 6 min read

For the second year in a row, JCDecaux UK has partnered with MTM to better understand how and why marketers are using programmatic DOOH (pDOOH). Mirroring the methodology used last year, the findings from this year's research, A Tale of Evolution, show how pDOOH has evolved over the last 12 months.

By speaking directly to those who have hands on experience in planning and buying programmatic digital out of home (pDOOH), the research shines a spotlight on the real-life benefits of the channel, how marketers are using pDOOH, and the requirements for growth. In this piece we delve into the details behind the findings including exclusive quotes from respondents you won’t find anywhere else, and commentary from Carrie Condino, B2B research director, MTM.

Operational efficiency, viewability, and incremental reach

We asked marketers “What are the top three reasons you include pDOOH in your media mix?”; the most popular were: operational efficiency (28%), viewability (27%) and ability to reach incremental audiences (26%).

When we compare this to last year, we see that operational efficiency and the ability to reach incremental audiences have risen in importance over the past 12 months while the ability to measure performance has fallen outside the top five reasons to include pDOOH in the media mix.

This shows that marketers have moved on from simply including pDOOH in their media mix because it’s possible to measure performance and are increasingly focusing on the fundamental benefits of the channel – efficiency, viewability, and audience targeting.

As one digital media agency strategy team, board/c-suite respondent put it: “We now provide partners with detailed information regarding the campaign goals, target audience etc. so we are both on the same page and can work together successfully.”

Outside of the top three reasons for including pDOOH in the media mix we saw some differences between brand-side and agency-side marketers’ responses. A quarter (26%) of brand-side respondents use pDOOH to reach a wide audience compared to just 16% of agency-side respondents. Additionally, 21% of brand-side respondents report that ‘audience priming’ is a key benefit, compared to only 11% of agency-side respondents.

On the other hand, agency-side respondents favor the ability to measure performance and flexible buying options more than brand-side respondents (25% vs 17% and 23% vs 12% respectively).

These differences are indicative of brands and agencies having slightly different priorities in the face of the demise of the third-party cookie. “Without being able to target consumers online as effectively, brands need the ability to reach a wide audience, and they need to prime online audiences with other channels,” said Carrie Condino, B2B research director at MTM speaking on the Life in Programmatic DOOH podcast.

“Then on the flip side, the pressure felt by agencies in the cookieless world is more about still needing to demonstrate effectiveness to their clients so they’re more focused on measurement and different buying methods depending on what's most relevant to each client and each campaign.”

Programmatic DOOH boosts reach and aids performance in other channels

To better understand marketers’ expectations of pDOOH we asked, “How do you use pDOOH?”. Overall, the top three answers were: to boost DOOH reach in specific locations (47%) and times (41%), and to support other digital channels (38%).

As with reasons for including pDOOH in the media mix, we saw differences across brand and agency respondents. Brand-side marketers are more likely to use pDOOH as part of an always on strategy compared to agencies (39% vs 30%) while agency-side marketers are more frequently using real time on/off functionality compared to advertisers (42% vs. 29%).

These specific use cases and objectives that are tightly aligned with other channels show that marketers are rapidly becoming more adept at buying DOOH programmatically. This is being driven by a transfer of skills from other programmatic channels (e.g. real-time optimization) and experimentation with different buying options, such as programmatic guaranteed deals, to ensure quality impressions and reducing wastage.

When it comes to measurement, brand awareness (67%), online sales (60%), and performance of other digital channels (58%) are the most commonly used KPIs for pDOOH campaigns, broadly similar to what we saw in 2023. However, the research did reveal that measurement approaches have evolved significantly over the past 12 months. Here are some quotes from respondents about how they are tackling measurement.

“We are creating models that enable the measurement of prDOOH performance in conjunction with other advertising channels.” Manager, media planning team, brand.

“We are comparing data from different channels side by side so we can streamline the measurement process and understand gaps to fill across the overall strategy.” Director/senior leader, digital team, digital media agency.

“We have created certain performance measurement KPIs that we measure across different channels and this standardization helps us compare across different channels.” Manager, media planning team, non-digital media agency/poster specialist.

What are the requirements for growth in 2024

Over the past 12 months, challenges associated with measurement and data integration have been eroded. Examples of how these have been overcome include: integration of CRM systems and DMPs, use of geo location tracking tools, and unified analytics platforms.

Today, the number one requirement for growth, identified by 43% of respondents is more effective targeting (+7pts YoY) followed by better audience insights (+10pts YoY).

“The trends we’re seeing are indicative of a more mature channel compared to 12 months ago. Measurement and behavioral data have become much less of a challenge and have been replaced by a need for more effective targeting and better audience insights. This means that there is a desire to move beyond those basic impressions and engage with more advanced metrics. There's a desire to understand how pDOOH can actually impact audience behavior and drive conversions.” said Carrie Condino, B2B research Director, MTM.

Programmatic DOOH’s era of maturity

This is the second year in a row that JCDecaux has partnered with MTM to produce independent, quantitative insights into the world of pDOOH and we’ve seen real signs of increased maturity in the market compared to last year. Now we're seeing more strategic implementation, true omnichannel planning, and more sophisticated campaigns. We're seeing marketers feel more comfortable and confident with the channel and they're moving on to an era of leveraging insights and continually refining campaigns.

This year, I think we're going to see a lot more contextual targeting across all digital channels and the use of pDOOH will grow as marketers come to better understand how it compliments channels like CTV and online video as well as traditional OOH and DOOH.

If you want to learn more about pDOOH check out our Intelligence Hub and the Life in pDOOH podcast, or get in touch with the team via uk.programmatic@jcdecaux.com.

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