The Future of Out-of-Home Has Arrived

times square nyc programmatic digital out of home

The Future of Out-of-Home Has Arrived

times square nyc programmatic digital out of homeWith everyone spending so much time at home this year, getting back out into the real world is surely at the top of most people’s holiday wish list. During this time, advertisers have shifted strategies in favor of digital mediums to reach users at home, while more traditional tactics such as out-of-home (OOH) have fallen off many radars. While the number of reported COVID-19 cases is currently rising in some areas of the country, in other parts people are beginning to return to the workplace, visit their favorite stores and restaurants, and, most importantly, catching some fresh air.

As a starting point, let’s visit the state of OOH advertising. Over the past few years digital OOH has grown rapidly with many traditional fixed position OOH boards being converted to turnkey digital screens with the ability to rotate creative spots on a loop. Vendors are becoming more innovative with their signage, inventing new board styles to reach on-the-go consumers at high traffic touchpoints. This capability has revolutionized OOH advertising and brought it into the modern world of technology. With our world changing by the day, clients are striving to stay at the forefront and demanding more flexibility than ever. They require the need to get into market quickly and the flexibility to change direction seamlessly based on constantly evolving market conditions. They also demand transparency into how effective media is at driving business results. Enter programmatic digital OOH.

This year has brought us great advances in the world of programmatic, including the ability to build, launch, and manage digital OOH campaigns right alongside a client’s display, video, connected TV and audio initiatives. This provides clients the flexibility and transparency to move quickly and see results. For the first time, a client can send over a creative asset and an agency’s programmatic team can upload it right into their buying platform, adjust flight dates, budgets, and targeting settings, and then activate that ad outside of the home and around the world.

Programmatic digital OOH presents many new opportunities to the media world that were previously reserved for formats such as desktop and mobile. Audience targeting is a huge value-add to clients in that 1st and 3rd party audiences, including demographics, behaviors, or even a client’s own customer list, can now be matched to specific locations based on device activity. This allows advertisers to identify high indexing zones and serve ads in the most relevant locations. In addition to targeting specific groups of customers, there are many dynamic opportunities to serve creative based on certain conditions being met. Imagine you are walking to your neighborhood grocery store on a brisk autumn day and you see an ad for a delicious noodle soup on a bus stop kiosk as you round the corner approaching the store. You think to yourself, “Wow, I want that.” It is no coincidence that the perfect ad was served at the perfect time. That soup brand spent the summer doing their due diligence on digital OOH advancements. They worked with their agency partners to build out a campaign that would display ads on digital boards within 10 blocks of grocery stores where products are sold. This campaign was built with dayparting to reach the lunch and dinner crowd and customized to automatically activate the second the temperature dipped below 55 degrees. As a reward for their diligence, the soup brand was able to capture device IDs of users who viewed their OOH ad and tie these impressions to in-store sales. They saw immediate sales growth in the zones they targeted and were very satisfied with the results.

However, the campaign wasn’t finished. As a bonus, they were able to build a retargeting pool out of device IDs that viewed the boards and remarket to non-purchasing users via display ads on their mobile phones to encourage trial. This example represents a hypothetical campaign, but the opportunity to do what is presented here is now available to brands willing to develop and test innovative ideas.

While there is tremendous upside in programmatic digital OOH, there are also a few factors to consider while determining if it is the right fit. A benefit when not buying OOH programmatically is the ability to hand pick specific boards. If a client is running a limited geo campaign and needs to be active on five specific boards, that would currently be a better fit for a non-programmatic strategy. If a brand is looking to run a highly customized creative unit, that can also be a signal to run outside of programmatic. Another thought to keep in mind is that the availability of more targeting options means that programmatic may not necessarily be the lowest cost option. While buying DOOH programmatically may not be a fit for everyone, the idea of having many of digital display advertising’s advantages and the flexibility to readily activate, pause, or optimize strategies mid-flight intrigues clients. With these benefits in mind, Harmelin’s account teams have been evaluating this opportunity to innovate for their clients’ brands.

From Times Square to Shibuya Crossing, advertising is at the center of cultural innovation and influences trends and behaviors around the world. In the case of these iconic OOH ad landmarks, the famous movie quote “if you build it, he will come” really comes to mind. Specific to programmatic digital OOH, “Build it, activate it, and they will see it… and we will be able to measure it” is more on point!