DOOH Was the Rising Star of 2020. Is There Still Room for Growth?
All advertising mediums are now under revised projections due to the change in the economy and consumer confidence. Desktop and mobile have seen the strongest rebound thanks to the accelerated shift to personal screens and increased time spent.
However, given that 25 percent to 35 percent of consumers intend to reduce major out-of-home activities even after the coronavirus ends, digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising can be a hard sell.
The global DOOH market was projected to reach $26.6 billion by 2023. However, with significantly fewer people on streets, highways, busses and subways this year and perhaps into the near future, digital billboards and LCD screens may not have the same value as expected.
If you’re a marketer looking at the road ahead and thinking about where to put your ad spend in 2021, what should you consider? Here is where DOOH stands today and a realistic projection of where it will go — and how fast — in the future.
DOOH is Still in the Early Stages of Programmatic
- Access to inventory is fragmented. While some big companies are tapping into existing supply-side platforms (SSPs), many are developing their own. On the demand-side platform (DSP) front, there are some integrations with agency platforms, but also out-of-home specialty groups and other third-party platforms. All this consolidation and integration means that if you’re looking to buy digital out-of-home, as it stands now, you cannot just hit a button to get started.
- The real world isn't always brand-safe. When programmatic started picking up steam, one of the biggest concerns was around brand safety, with six in 10 advertisers reporting serious concern. There are now plenty of solutions, such as private marketplaces (PMPs), allow-lists, and proven methods to avoid ad fraud, but the DOOH space has far less contextual information. Digital environments are difficult to accurately document and control, but the real world is too! Moreover, billboards are a specific medium that need to be used in a particular way, and programmatic buying has yet to account for those nuances.
- Targeting is a guess at best. You may be able to guess the general demographic of someone who passes by a bus stop in a certain neighborhood, but do you know if they're in the market to purchase a car? Unlikely. DOOH cannot know personal user behaviors that are at the core of other digital targeting methods, like web and mobile apps.
- Attribution is (still) tricky. A lot of DOOH companies are claiming some version of a performance metric, like sign-ups or direct sales, that can be attributed to seeing their screens, but what do these metrics mean? If you’re a Fortune 500 company with a budget for awareness campaigns and don’t need proven performance, that’s one thing. However, if you’re a performance-driven advertiser, like a retailer, whose goal is to increase foot traffic, the stakes are far higher. You need to provide proven key performance indicators.
Brands Are Open to New Kinds of Messaging and Channels
The social, cultural and economic events of the first half of this year haven’t just changed consumer behavior, they’ve also forever changed marketers’ perspectives and how they approach ad spend.
Traditional brands that previously balked at advertising on a game like Words With Friends might be changing their tune and more willing to take the leap. Brands in industries like fashion, finance and entertainment may be less interested in multistory digital displays in major cities like New York and Los Angeles, but embrace the idea of geofencing a certain area to serve consumers with mobile ads, including a call to action to a digital “location,” like an e-commerce app or a movie-streaming platform.
My Screen vs. Your Screen: New Measures of Perception and Efficacy
Long before the events of 2020 put more emphasis on personal screens like desktop and mobile, there was a trend occurring on the streets that demonstrated the hierarchy of screens. While digital signage was popping up everywhere, from vehicle charging stations to cardio equipment at the gym, these screens were always playing second fiddle to a person’s mobile phone. Now that more people are at home, “My Screen” is even more personal. Advertisers and agencies should be targeting the user, not the ad environment.
When done right, mobile ads offer the ability to reach the user when they’re more receptive to engagement. With rewarded video, for instance, users are opting into the experience as a way to earn rewards for a game or unlock gated content. These types of ads are not only perceived more cohesively, but are recognized more favorably.
Digital out-of-home is still a great fit when it provides a utility (e.g., maps) or interactive entertainment, however, it’s not the best solution for many brands. Even compared to desktop and TV, mobile is still the only medium that's as close and personal to the consumer. When combined with the extensive, precise programmatic targeting capabilities we have in mobile, it’s clear that it’s the only medium that makes sense for all brands to achieve their outcomes.
Erin Venables McHale is senior director of strategic partnerships at AdColony, a global advertising and marketing platform for mobile app publishers and brands.