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Programmatic DOOH: How brands can maximize the channel's creative potential



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October 17, 2023 | 6 min read

With marketing budgets under increasing pressure and the battle for consumers’ attention at an all-time high, it’s more important than ever for marketers to ensure investment leads to profit

But while the link between creativeness and effectiveness is well documented, during times when every penny matters, marketers often lean on bid and channel/budget optimization strategies rather than looking at creative opportunities to improve effectiveness.

With programmatic DOOH (pDOOH) set to increase over the next 18 months and many brands creating new budgets for the channel, Dom Kozak, head of programmatic at JCDecaux UK explores how marketers can maximize the creative potential of this data-driven channel and avoid falling into the trap of relying too much on commercial levers to optimize performance.

Understanding the role of creative in pDOOH

pDOOH offers marketers a unique opportunity to reach consumers via virtually unmissable, premium screens using real-time data to inform targeting and creative. The challenge is balancing traditional out of home creative best practices while applying effective data-driven targeting and programmatic strategies. When these two components are out of sync, brands miss out on valuable consumer attention.

DOOH screens range in size from 1.2m x 1.8m for digital six sheets up to hundreds of square meters which makes it tempting to try to squeeze in a lot of information, especially compared to say in-app ads that can be less than a few square centimeters. While it’s important to make sure there’s synergy between online and offline creative (more on that later), the ads don’t have to be exact copies of each other.

When it comes to DOOH, the rule of thumb is to keep the design simple. Our research has shown that logos at the top deliver +32% brand recall and products that take up more than half the screen size deliver 38% more attention. Use the rest of the space wisely with one, maybe two, clear calls to action.

Online and offline creative should work in harmony

One of the benefits of OOH – no matter how it’s bought – is that it has a positive effect on how consumers perceive online advertising; known as ‘priming’. To maximize this effect, as well as attention, online and offline creative should complement each other.

One way to achieve this is to use a ‘fluent device’ - a memorable slogan, character, or concept that elicits a positive emotional response – consistently across all channels. Our research shows that using a fluent device makes your creative 1/3 more effective.

Because of the advanced targeting and optimization capabilities pDOOH offers, marketers can reap the benefits of fluent devices and employ additional data-driven creative strategies. For example, changing products shown based on time of day, day of week, or local popularity.

Focus on relevant outcomes

OOH in all its forms is a powerful brand-building channel but put the word ‘programmatic’ in front of it and marketers’ expectations can suddenly pivot to unrealistic performance expectations.

One of the most common mistakes we see is buyers focusing too much on lower funnel outcomes more suited to online display, video, and mobile campaigns – I.e. actions that rely on clicks!

Ou research ‘The Time is Now’ revealed that when measuring pDOOH campaigns marketers are ‘always’ or ‘usually’ using 13 metrics spanning the entire marketing funnel. While a broad approach to measurement enables marketers to gain a thorough understanding of how campaigns move the needle, when measurement is this disparate it becomes irrelevant. Additionally, to be meaningful, measurement needs to be consistent across all channels. This can be challenging, especially when working with online and offline channels.

Increasingly, marketers are turning to attention metrics to provide a consistent reference point for performance across different channels. From a pDOOH perspective, it’s important to consider how your campaign is flighted compared to other channels and weave that into attention measurement to understand the optimal timing for maximum attention and priming.

Use data to inform iterative, progressive, media planning

Data integration is key to maximizing the potential of any pDOOH campaign but often it’s reserved for targeting and bid optimization rather than also being incorporated into the creative strategy. Data can be used in a variety of ways to optimize pDOOH creative, for example, Marks and Spencer use pDOOH to enable the brand to be representative of Britain in creative and reflect that across the country.

Another example of how data can be used to optimize creative is Martini’s campaign in Italy, run via Scoota, that directed consumers to bars that had a specific cocktail available. A map within the creative served as the biggest focal point so it looked very much like an information board. Each map showed the exact location as well as the location of the closest bars where the Martini cocktail was available. There was a QR code for discounts and offers in the creative too enabling Scoota to track footfall and sales.

Explaining the quantifiable uplift in performance that good creative drives Hannah Scott, VP Client Services, Scoota says “there is clear evidence that when the creative is on point and there’s a clear direct message suggesting consumers go to a particular store because it's nearby or to grab a certain product because it's on offer, we typically see an uplift in footfall of 20-30%.”

To find out more about how to optimize your creative strategy in pDOOH check out the resources available on our Programmatic Intelligence Hub or get in touch with our programmatic team –


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