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Out-of-home (OOH) media has been one of the media hardest hit by the Covid-19 crisis. Its much anticipated programmatic destiny never came to pass, as lockdowns forced consumers to shelter in their homes. But now, current forces are poised to position programmatic digital OOH (DOOH) as a vital channel for digital marketers in 2021.

“The past few years, the OOH industry has been shaping its future, building an arsenal of digital screens, arming itself with data and strengthening itself with programmatic capabilities,” Alexie Lopez, director DSP partnerships at Broadsign, said. “[It has been] preparing for the future, it just didn’t anticipate this future. But OOH isn’t just future ready, it’s now ready.”

This was one of the key takeaways from a new webinar, ‘Why programmatic DOOH is now a must’, presented by Lopez in association with The Drum, exploring important undercurrents happening now, the implications for brands and marketing in the coming months, along with top tips on how programmatic OOH is poised to address them head on.

Watch the full session here.

Doubling down on digital

“Covid-19 has acted as a catalyst, speeding up digital adoption and introducing new trends at a rate few could have predicted,” said Lopez. “The vast majority of marketers refocused on their digital efforts and rightfully so; you fish where the fish are.”

But advertisers’ continued focus on digital and short-terminism indicates that brands should now look to rebalance their branding and activation initiatives.

“The past year has caused marketers to scramble to understand quickly  changing consumer habits and with that a further push towards data, efficiency and short-terminism - but in favour of short term measurable goals, we tend to forget the benefits of long term initiatives,” said Lopez. “To survive, you need to move further up the funnel to grow awareness and make sure your pool of possible customers is as large as possible, at every step of the way.”

Expiration of the cookie

With third-party cookies being phased out next year, those who rely heavily on programmatic marketing tactics are seeking alternative means of audience targeting and behavioural tracking. Lopez sees this as an opportunity for contextual marketing to come to the forefront.

“While we know what contextual targeting is in the world of online display, there needs to be a mindset on how we define personalization for DOOH,” he said. “Personalization for OOH is not on a one-to-one basis. Personalization for OOH is localization. And we expected programmatic DOOH to be the beneficiary of the cookieless future.”

The world opens up

As the world reopens and mass vaccinations continue, consumer optimism and marketer optimism are increasing. A wave of consumer demand for ‘revenge spending’ is coming as the economy restarts, with consumer spending over the next two quarters likely to be the strongest. Consumer mobility patterns will change and brands need to be where their consumers are.

“No one advertising channel works alone and outdoor ads dovetail nicely with other mediums to create a holistic marketing campaign,” Lopez said, before outlining how programmatic DOOH can help address these opportunities with three key tactics that marketers can use to help address larger brand strategies:

1. Build your brand

Every brand is now a DTC brand but digital channels have become more saturated and expensive. OOH is proving to be a perfect outlet to share messages since its unaided recall rates are at 40% and DOOH at 47%, clearly surpassing mobile at 35% and TV at 22%. Building a brand through OOH requires high-traffic screens, location context to increase relevance, ad recall and awareness, and to be aligned with online campaigns.

2. Be discoverable

Every impression is an opportunity. As consumers begin their ‘revenge spending’, brands need to be more discoverable than ever. Increased mobility and new ability patterns provide opportunities to influence consumers, where every impression is an opportunity to connect. To make use of this, marketers should use dynamic creative and information, choose inventory near points of interest and understand granular audience and mobility patterns.

3. Break through the clutter

Indicators of a surge in ad spend, concerns of ad clutter and the ability to break through is now greater. While simply turning up your digital ad spend, marketers should consider an offline approach that has impact on their digital channels. When other marketers go left, go right. Start early to allow more time to build awareness, use multiple formats to create a sense of ubiquity around your brand and messaging and, in a smartphone world, the biggest screens matter.

“The next few quarters will see a surge in consumerism and, with that, increased ad spending vying for consumer attention, where OOH’s brand building strength should be leveraged,”  Lopez said. “Marketers will lean more into contextual opportunities that programmatic OOH provides. As the world opens up and consumers are out again, OOH allows you to be there with them.”

Learn more about the future of programmatic DOOH by watching 'Why programmatic DOOH is now a must' webinar on-demand.