The digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising industry has made great strides in recent years. DOOH media revenues worldwide were up 13 percent last year (to $13.4 billion), with the US estimated to grow by more than 10 percent to surpass the $3 billion mark last year (source: PQ Media). Similar growth is expected this year, with the MediaVillage Report forecasting a 12.8-percent uptick in US revenues. And all of this is in what has otherwise been a lukewarm ad market overall.
This growth can be attributed, in large part, to DOOH’s ability to connect advertisers with on-the-go consumers via relevant and compelling real-time video, enhanced by unique targeting capabilities through visual detection data, mobile and geofencing.
To build on this strong performance, the DOOH industry must continually anticipate and adapt to the needs of brands and their advertising agencies. One such need is the ability to target audiences and purchase DOOH ad space via more efficient and automated solutions (aka, Programmatic). That led the Digital Place Based Advertising Association (DPAA) and its member companies to work with Prohaska Consulting to develop the first DOOH programmatic standards to facilitate automated transactions.
The standards, released last April, benefit all stakeholders—buyers, sellers, marketers and the ad-tech community—by expanding opportunities and making it easier for brands to target audiences and purchase DOOH ad space programmatically across more publishers.
Publishers, Advertisers And DOOH
Out-of-home media companies have invested in digital technology to create the compelling experiences that advertisers crave. This includes digital billboards, consoles and kiosks that are IP-connected displays, offering full-color capabilities—from static images to full-motion video—in impactful locations. The goal is to increase frequency, reach and engagement while, simultaneously, eliminating some of the challenges—impaired view-ability and fraud are among them—encountered in online and mobile digital channels. The resulting immersive, desirable digital experiences are viewable (as the ad plays in view) when rendered and in an environment that’s not readily subject to fraudulent tactics, such as domain spoofing, stacked ads and bot traffic, among others.
The traditional DOOH sales approach in which representatives of the various media companies reach out to ad buyers to highlight their unique audience and inventory with the prospect of negotiating a deal has been successful for hundreds of years in virtually all industries. During the last 10 to 15 years, programmatic ad buying has revolutionized the process, offering automation, enhanced targeting and more choices for advertisers and increased revenue sources for sellers. Now, buyers seek to extend those advantages across a broader range of media networks.
Common Standards Facilitate Programmatic Transactions
Programmatic buying exists and thrives because of industry-recognized and -adopted standards. These standards facilitate the connections between buy-side demand side platforms (DSPs) and sell-side supply side platforms (SSPs) to process auctions for each unique ad impression efficiently. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) developed standards, known as OpenRTB standards, starting with online display-based advertising. Standards were then expanded to mobile ads and video-based ads; now, they include other similar iterations, such as native advertising.
Developing DPAA Programmatic Standards
Exclusively and specifically focused on DOOH, DPAA has developed new programmatic standards to account for the uniqueness of DOOH advertising, such as ad sizes not found in other media channels. DPAA’s efforts have followed the IAB’s OpenRTB standards to provide consistency with what buyers and sellers already know, thereby facilitating adoption. Key variations that recognize DOOH’s characteristics include the following:
- Impression multiplier: DOOH inventory reaches an audience that is generally greater than one, whereas traditional digital advertising reaches an individual (e.g., a digital billboard in a mall is viewed by more than one person per execution). The one-to-many versus one-one advertising approach requires the bid to be based on (typically) a large ad-impression value, resulting in a greater portion of the typically expected spend.
- Timeliness: Generally, a digital ad opportunity is called and delivered within 200ms in a programmatic transaction. For DOOH, that will be “delayed” due to environmental factors that could include transcoding of creative assets or physical delivery (typically wireless communications) to the media consoles. The DOOH standards enable the buyer to be aware of timing in advance of each bid.
- Creative specifications: DPAA worked with member companies to develop a core set of ad creative formats that reflect DOOH sizes. Some are consistent with existing IAB ad formats; some are unique to DOOH.
These new standards create a common protocol that allows platforms to have consistent implementations across various buying and selling partners, while also leveraging existing foundations to accommodate the uniqueness and value of DOOH inventory.
Programmatic And DOOH Trends
DPAA’s efforts, the persistence of its member companies and collaboration with ad tech platforms have created new and meaningful opportunities for DOOH advertising. SSPs, as the partner platform for media companies, have enabled programmatic capabilities for DOOH sellers. The DPAA programmatic standards have already been adopted by select SSPs, so that sellers can make their inventory available programmatically. Others are in process.
There are active discussions with DSPs to incorporate the necessary enhancements to enable DOOH programmatic transactions at scale for buyers. Advertisers would be able to access inventory easily across numerous sellers, reaching the geography, audience and formats that they seek. This creates a meaningful gain in reach and efficiency for buyers. To accommodate this medium will require development work by DSPs to incorporate the new functionality. DSPs are now prioritizing these integrations to enable this new medium for their ad buyers.
Currently, most of the DOOH programmatic momentum is with media companies that are establishing private market place (PMP) deals with specific advertisers, as opposed to Open Auction buying, which has been the main cause of issues with programmatic buying in traditional digital media channels.
These one-one deals increase buyer familiarity with the automated buying capabilities in DOOH, and they’re the foundation of greater adoption of programmatic buying within the DOOH industry. This transaction type also demonstrates the power of combining great contextual relevance with specific audience targeting.
Beyond the SSP and DSP adoption, designers and media-creation firms are focused on programmatic-based enhancements, such as creative level optimization. Using data to target the optimal viewership at various times of day for the advertiser’s creative message improves performance. The use of audience analytics also becomes a critical component in programmatic buying. Such data is gradually becoming available to buyers to target the intended audience directly.
DPAA’s effort in creating DOOH programmatic standards is an important step for DOOH buyers and sellers. The initial steps now being undertaken by DOOH buyers, sellers and the ad tech companies that serve will expand to more transactions in the year ahead. This positions the DOOH industry to be able to participate in the growth of programmatic transactions across all media, with the promise of greater revenue and more effective buying because of the ability to transact more easily and more efficiently.