Omar Oakes
Nov 1, 2019

Programmatic OOH tipped to go 'mainstream' in 2020

Media agencies say they are beginning to change team structures to accommodate more programmatic trading in OOH.

Digital OOH screens in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Digital OOH screens in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Agencies are calling on out-of-home media owners to provide more digital inventory to trade programmatically, a survey of media buyers and specialists has revealed.

In its latest biennial State of the Nation global marketplace report, JCDecaux’s OOH programmatic trading marketplace, VIOOH, predicts 2020 will be the year programmatic digital out-of-home advertising will go "mainstream".

As a result of expected growth in programmatically traded DOOH, media agencies say they are beginning to change their team structures as they adapt to new ways of building and planning digital campaigns.

For example, WPP’s Group M is undergoing internal changes because DOOH now delivers a number of campaigns that are programmatic only.

Stuart Hall, managing partner, product, at Group M, said: "We have been impressed with the speed that our specific proposition has grown." Hall also thinks there will be a much larger range of panels available programmatically by the same time next year as more media owners get their integrations with supply-side platforms fleshed out. 

Group M now has a "good number of clients" buying programmatic campaigns, with a strong pipeline going into 2019's final quarter, Hall added.

DOOH is growing at nearly twice the rate of the total OOH industry, according to the latest Advertising Association/Warc figures in the UK. DOOH penetration is lower in Asia than in the UK and Australia, where around half of OOH spend is digital, but it represents the biggest growth opportunity.

DOOH must outgrow urban locations

However, media owners need to commit more to digitising "iconic and standout" sites, according to Mindshare UK’s joint heads of planning, Steve Ray and Emily Scovell.

Scovell said: "We want to see a massive increase in the digital network outside of cities. We are currently having to limit our innovative digital OOH planning to urban locations."

More investment in high-quality screens will provide massive potential for innovation, Ray and Scovell added, citing the London Underground's digital escalator ribbons as an example of a more fluid interaction between screen and audience. 

Ray added: "Really, the essence of this wish is about reimagining what OOH looks like for our audience. Not everything has to be a rectangle or in fact one big screen."

Meanwhile, smaller direct-to-consumer brands are starting to turn to OOH because search and social media are getting expensive, according to Cécile Blanc, senior director, global solutions and innovation, at Xaxis. 

She added: "As these new sources of revenues flow in, it will be easier for outdoor media owners to make the necessary investments to enable the next wave of programmatic OOH."

For others, client interest is naturally maturing as conversations around programmatic move away from "the pipes".

Joel Livesey, director of partnerships, EMEA, at The Trade Desk, predicted: "Programmatic pipes will become normal for digital OOH [in 2020]. That's not to say it'll become the go-to technology – we're still a way from that – but we'll be far beyond the industry-first stage we find ourselves in now."

Report’s key predictions for next year

  • Programmatic DOOH will go mainstream as agencies and advertisers transition from "test and learn" to a media plan "must-have"
  • Growth is happening as more programmatic trading of FMCG and DTC products look to build brand awareness and reach. Budgets will grow and flow from new sources as advertisers increasingly see it as a digital medium and DTC players see it as a brand-building opportunity
  • Trust will continue to convert new players: it delivers contextual, brand-safe environments as well as business results
  • Advertisers and agencies continue to see the synergies between DOOH and other mediums – such as mobile, with social and broadcast (such as podcasts) future big drivers
  • Agencies and platforms will increasingly change their structures to accommodate DOOH (as well as audio/addressable TV)
  • Media owners will continue to convert inventory, but at a pace too slow for many buyers

Jean-Christophe Conti, chief executive of VIOOH, added: "Programmatic in OOH is still in its early days and there are challenges with how to bring the best of this technology to the OOH industry. Luckily, we’re able to learn from the mistakes of other channels within the programmatic ecosystem to ensure a smoother integration."

Campaign UK

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