Out of home needs to step up the pace to survive and thrive in the digital age

Out of home needs to step up the pace to survive and thrive in the digital age / JCDecaux

It may be the world’s oldest advertising medium but out of home (OOH) is transforming, which is imperative if it’s to survive and thrive in the digital age.

What’s more, media owners cannot work alone if we as an industry are to take on the dominance of the digital giants. And with the tech giants setting their sights on our streets, taking their first forays into OOH last year, it is more important than ever to work together to challenge these giants- because with digital out of home (DOOH), and particularly programmatic DOOH, we have adland’s best story to tell.

Of course, it’s naïve to suggest that advertisers will change their behaviour and reduce their spend on the big three – but what we are seeing is marketers beginning to move their digital budgets to out of home and this will increase as long as media owners can work together to sell tech-driven solutions that drive greater business outcomes for brands.

As an industry, we must act as one to prove we can deliver the right DOOH solutions backed by programmatic technology and measurement fit for purpose in trusted and transparent environments. It’s the only way to maintain DOOH’s heady momentum - and grow revenues further and faster.

The Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) predicts DOOH spend to reach some $14.6bn in the States alone this year; Magna predicts a 10.1% year-on-year growth rate on DOOH in 2019 (with OOH as a whole rising by 2.7%); Warc expects UK spend to hit £1bn this year.

Enders expects total programmatic DOOH ad spend to experience double digit growth this year. Impressive figures - but there’s room for improvement when you consider £4.52bn will be spent via all programmatic channels in the UK.

We are in a great position where we are able to take the lessons of other digital channels and bring real innovation to advertisers. Let’s avoid the fate of publishers who lost so much to the big tech platforms, fraud and an army of adtech middlemen muddying the waters. But let’s also acknowledge how programmatic technology can help transform this oldest of mediums into a digital force to be reckoned with.

It’s the only way to fully utilise client data and optimise campaigns. It’s why we have built a platform to help deliver this new ecosystem for OOH media owners, to let both buy and sell side trade seamlessly to deliver automated OOH and programmatic DOOH on an audience and impression basis.

DOOH brings with it some exceptional benefits for advertisers as well as some new challenges. Trading this way advertisers get more flexibility and truly brand safe environments; it’s measurable, unavoidable and GDPR compliant with premium inventory across the biggest footfall locations.

It’s highly impactful, uncluttered and doesn’t suffer from cord cutters or skippable ads, or the fraud problems of online advertisers. With our platform, it’s easier than ever to move from static messaging towards automated, dynamic experiences which will deliver increased impact through more relevant messaging and contextualised content.

That said, we can’t just bolt outdoor onto existing programmatic mobile or display standards. We need to respect DOOH’s place as a one-to-many channel, unlike much of digital, which trades on one-to-one metrics: the measurement and reporting metrics must be different. Bring the technology to the medium - not the other way around. Education and great case studies will be key to convincing advertisers and their agencies of the undoubtable power of this supercharged medium.

Think real-time bidding, DSP connections and impression trading: think how we can make DOOH more accessible and addressable to digital buyers. Empowering DSPs, agencies and clients to use their own data to buy DOOH and to use that same data to buy across multiple media channels, will enable them to deliver a more unified marketing strategy for brands.

So, it’s time for media owners to join together. Programmatic is increasingly becoming the de facto way of buying advertising, and its crucial OOH can successfully compete in this digital time.

Let’s pledge to approach this in a more organised and collaborative way. Crucially, if out of home hopes to thrive in the digital age - and I believe it can and will - it needs an open, transparent and global platform to support it.

Jean-Christophe Conti is chief executive of VIOOH

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