JCDecaux is the UK market leader in out-of-home (OOH) advertising solutions. We enable brands to reach consumers in airport, rail, roadside, and retail environments through traditional, digital, and programmatic advertising.

Founded: 1964

Sector Experience

Out of Home
Programmatic Media

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The key to success in programmatic digital out of home? Test and learn - here's how

by Chris Felton

October 11, 2022

Test and learn is a key part of any marketing strategy to provide the insights necessary for progression, evolution, and performance improvement. The challenge, however, is identifying opportunities to learn something that is genuinely new and delivers value. The Covid-19 pandemic shone a light on the importance of test and learn as marketers sought to engage consumers in an unknown world.

Today, with a recession looming, marketers are once again braced for significant changes in consumer behavior and potential budget cuts, and attention is once again turning to new test and learn strategies to enable marketers to weather the storm.

In this article, we’ll explore how to set up successful test and learn campaigns in programmatic digital out-of-home (prDOOH), how to use consumer data from various sources to inform your strategy and how best to measure success.

Getting the basics right

Regardless of whether you’re trying a new channel, platform, or targeting strategy, test and learn is your opportunity to learn something new. Start by defining exactly what is being tested and what you intend to learn and then do your research to make sure it’s not something that’s been done before and that what you will learn is genuinely new.

In this initial stage, it’s important to make sure you have a diverse team around you to ensure that the resulting strategy is not too niche to be effective. For example, if you want to test new creative, make sure that the team involved is reflective of the audience that’s going to see your ads.

Next, make sure you have the right skills in the team and that adequate time and budget have been dedicated to your test and learn project. Remember, this is your opportunity to learn something new that has the potential to transform your marketing campaigns, not a tick box exercise.

In prDOOH, you will need people with experience in OOH/DOOH as well as programmatic advertising – these people may sit in separate teams today, it’s your job to bring them together to deliver the best possible outcomes. When it comes to budgeting, talk to media owners about your objectives – a good partner will work with you to find a level of investment you’re comfortable with that gives you the coverage you need to get statistically significant results.

Once you have outlined your objectives and priorities, it’s time to start thinking about which media owners, platforms, and data providers can best help you achieve your goals.

In today’s data-driven world, marketers need to be picky about which data is used to inform campaign planning and optimization. It’s vital to ensure you vet the quality and integrity of any potential data source which can be time-consuming, and the risks associated with using the wrong data are significant. The good news is that often, the hard work has already been done by media owners and technology platforms.

Take a data-driven approach

JCDecaux has partnered with CACI, Ocado, and All Unite to enable brands to leverage local retail spend data, online sales data, and footfall data when planning campaigns and to measure success.

Local retail spend data

If you want to target consumers who are high spenders in the fashion category, leverage local retail spend data to identify where those audiences are, what they spend their money on, and when. Then activate your campaign programmatically using mobile data to target locations that over-index on your target audience to streamline your budget. Once you’re comfortable with this approach, you can go further and use triggers such as weather or stock levels to test different creative variations as well as locations.

Online sales data

Online sales data can be used to identify daily spending patterns and trends and provide marketers with the data they need to create an effective test and learn strategy that encompasses different tactics throughout the week, based on consumer spending patterns. For example, if your target audience’s spending on your brand peaks at the weekend but is consistent throughout the week for your competitors, use programmatic bidding tactics to increase your presence at the times the audience is more likely to be buying from your competitors.

Online grocery data

In prDOOH, location is key and online grocery data can identify macro and micro trends in specific locations. For example, do the residents of Kensington buy more dog food or cat food? Is Camden the place where own brand is the winner? With insights like these brands can identify locations where they're most likely to generate more sales based on their strategy. The granularity of the data combined with programmatic activations provides marketers with added control over spend and targeting as well as more effective measurement options.


Your measurement methodology will be driven by the objectives you set for your test and learn project which will vary. When thinking about measuring success in prDOOH it’s important to remember that you will once again need to leverage experts from both the OOH and programmatic fields. Traditionally, OOH has predominantly been measured using brand awareness, purchase intent, favorability, and footfall metrics – all these metrics are equally applicable to prDOOH, if they marry with your goals. However, if you’re wanting to use prDOOH to increase sales, you’re going to have to include omnichannel measurement in your evaluation of success.

For example, let’s say you run two four-week prDOOH campaigns, two weeks apart (making your test and learn project 10 weeks long), in the same location but for the second campaign you change the creative based on weather triggers. For the duration of the test, any other marketing you do should remain consistent to isolate the impact of prDOOH (campaign one), and then measure the impact of the creative optimization during the second campaign.

You’ll then need to look at the performance of those other channels – did you get more sales from online video ads when prDOOH was running? Did you get more direct website traffic? Did you get more sales overall when your creative was based on the weather? You can also use the local retail data, online spend data, and footfall data mentioned earlier to measure success using metrics such as share of customers and share of spend.

3 things to remember about test and learn

1. No test and learn strategy is without risk so make sure you understand the benefits of testing and how those can be measured aside from core campaign objectives so that you can learn from your failures as well as your successes.

2. Programmatic buying and optimization opens a wealth of variables to test – don’t test them all at once, start with one or two things and build a solid foundation first then add to it.

3. A test and learn approach is most effective when baked into overall media strategy it should be woven into the fabric of media planning with dedicated resources and budgets.


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