Thursday, September 29, 2022

Programmatic buying for digital out-of-home: A solution looking for a problem

Guest post by Mike Gamaroff,
SVP of Channel Strategy, SITO Mobile Ltd.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The prevailing belief is that programmatic DOOH buying will solve all manner of problems. Will it?

Many in the Digital Outdoor Advertising industry by this stage are familiar with the IAB Programmatic Buying Ecosystems schema that depicts the variety of components that make possible the buying and selling of digital media.

The reason it comes up so often in this niche advertising sector is because for years the industry has been self-flagellating over its seeming lack of adoption of mainstream programmatic principles and its slowness to adapt to the digital trading age.



The prevailing belief is that programmatic buying in Digital Outdoor Media will solve all manner of problems, and the imperative for adopting these techniques could be summarised by the following:

  • Digital does it
  • It will bring more billings
  • It will provide easier tools that buyers need
  • It will increase demand
  • It will tap digital budgets
  • It will keep Outdoor media on plans

Will it?

Well, I have presided in one way or another over the rise of programmatic experimentation in the Out Of Home space since early 2014 – which is actually a long time, believe it or not – considering that until then there was nothing really in the market that had come close to automating the buying and selling of digital outdoor assets.

And my verdict? The answer as to whether programmatic will solve all those problems is a resounding “no”.

Many outdoor programmatic platforms, and most of those investing heavily in this space, have made a simple miscalculation which is to look upon Online media as the ultimate role model. There they see an obviously successful channel that exploded upon the introduction of real-time bidding and trading platforms, and the inference is that the Outdoor channel will enjoy similar growth if they blindly follow suit.

The industry is hitting a brick wall, however, and that is because few have examined the very real differences between the online and outdoor channels, and how simply applying the online programmatic model in the outdoor space is an obvious non-starter.

Programmatic DOOH ad buying

Programmatic digital out-of-home buying

The main reason programmatic trading came about online in the first place was as a means to manage the near limitless number of publishers that exist on the web – a problem the outdoor media channel will never experience.

Another reason why programmatic in Out Of Home is getting off to a bumpy start is that, in the media world, paying clients are like mythical beasts: notoriously inaccessible to a majority of the supplier and publisher ecosystem. This means few people actually get to hear the real needs of the largest brands, from the horse’s mouth. Paying advertisers actually want things that are different from the needs talked about on panels at conferences and expos.

Here are their real questions:

  • How do I know it works?
  • Where are the right screens?
  • Do the GRPs compare?
  • Is there enough scale?
  • How can we measure ROI?

Before a single penny was invested in the building of a programmatic trading platform for Out of Home, the above questions should have been answered. Of course we would all love automation and technology performing manual tasks that are presently very costly in human resource, but not before we address the real questions that are on the lips of any spending advertiser.

The only platforms that have a hope in disrupting and growing the Outdoor media industry are those that incorporate smart data for determining both the correct audiences in front of the screens, and the resulting lift on a 1:1 basis. Real numbers, not extrapolation and estimation. Price is last on the list of priorities in the premium and much loved channel of Out Of Home. Before that will always come behavioral targeting and meaningful attribution measurement.

Do you really need programmatic for this?

Programmatic DOOH ad buying

Programmatic DOOH buying: a problem looking for solution

Published on Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 6:47 PM

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