Getting the most out of DOOH
Digital inherently solves the issue of immediacy. It is possible to create, schedule, and display content in a fraction of the time of traditional OOH. It is also becoming almost commonplace for digital locations to house multiple versions of content and use various triggers to determine which content to play. Understanding those triggers and the contributing factors that lead someone to react to an ad in the desired manner is the key to relevance.
If one is to believe content is ‘king’ then it must follow that context is ‘queen.’ If it is possible to be aware of not only how many people are in front of a particular screen, but also who they are and why they are there, better decisions can be made on what content to present. The industry is also seeing more and more networks who are adding non-advertising content to their screens as a means of creating some context and giving viewers more reason to look. News feeds, weather, traffic, events, and live-streaming are all good examples. Social media feeds give viewers a chance to participate in the process by posting their feedback or taking part in an activity.
Buying DOOH, data, and the lack of standards
Simplicity is proving to be more difficult to master as the process becomes increasingly complex. It is true content management systems (CMSs) and media management platforms are becoming more sophisticated and automated. This is not enough, however. Buyers want to buy DOOH in a manner similar to how online media is purchased. General circulation used to be the currency of OOH, but DOOH buyers want to purchase targeted impressions. This has led to programmatic buying becoming the most talked about trend in DOOH in the last six to 12 months.
It is certainly a wonderful goal to make DOOH easier to buy, more targeted, more immediate, and much more flexible. Being able to buy based on budget, audience characteristics, actual views, time, number of plays, and more, instead of just buying a percentage of the general population is attractive. In fact, being able to buy it directly for a lower cost makes it very attractive.
Programmatic is not without its issues, however, as OOH and DOOH have always been a mass media. The opportunity is to communicate with many, not with one. The programmatic systems developed for other media have been focused on clicks by individuals who fit a particular profile or are searching for a particular product or service. As these people are online, the inventory is unlimited. DOOH operates on a fixed capacity and is still measured by total audience, even if it is broken down into profiles.
There have also been concerns about the data collected and how it is used as the basis of targeting, not the least of which is privacy. Finally, and perhaps most difficult, is the lack of standards and the sheer number of variations in the inventory making it difficult to easily push content across multiple networks. In order for this to be fully accepted, the industry needs to provide advertisers the transparency they are demanding on the data validity.
As a first step, many DOOH providers are considering hosting their own private exchanges to give customers all the demographic targeting they desire, along with fixed formats and standards, as well as flexibility in scheduling all while not ceding control of their inventory to a third party.
Where the fun really kicks in
Expanding the digital network to mobile devices through the use of retargeting, beacons, or even QR codes is empowering advertisers to get the benefits of one-to-many and also one-to-one. Technology that allows advertisers to track cell phone data to determine whether a viewer is a new impression or a return visitor, along with how long they stay in front of the sign, also helps to refine the message. Camera technology helps the operator count people who actually looked at the ad as opposed to those who just walked by. These technologies do not record anything other than the count. There have been many great examples of the content itself directing viewers to a particular micro site where the interaction is personal, which is the best of both worlds.
The final consideration is how to deliver on ROI? DOOH has become relevant and responsive, leveraging technology to make it easier than ever to buy, but is it more valuable? Again, the answer lies in data and analytics. The fact it is possible to determine exactly where and when a particular ad plays or is posted provides part of the answer. Further, the ability to tailor the creative to be most relevant given the immediate circumstances around the location takes it to another level. Finally, having the power to merge the playback and point of sale (POS) data together in a single dashboard can show whether the campaign worked or not. POS data is not always readily available, but certainly is for in-store networks, at least to the advertiser. It is not always about the money though.
It is also important to consider return on objective (ROO) in those cases when it is something other than sales lift. For example, many retailers launch campaigns aimed at increasing the sign-up rate for a loyalty program, as this can be measured as well.
The sign has always been the most effective tool for communicating with each other. The advent of digital has made them even more so. All indications show the industry will continue to enjoy excellent growth as capabilities continue to expand and costs continue to decrease.
Andy McRae is general manager for Dot2Dot Communications, a full-service visual communications company that designs, develops, and manages immersive digital signage experiences. For more information, visit www.dot2dotcommunications.com.