Why the OOH industry gained more than it lost during this pandemic

Guest Column: Gulab Patil, the founder and CEO of Lemma, focuses on the many technological strides the OOH industry made in the ad space during the lockdown period

e4m by Gulab Patil
Published: Oct 21, 2020 9:21 AM  | 5 min read
gulab patil

From the beginning of the lockdown to now, we’ve all been greeted with some articles or reports talking about the drastic de-growth in OOH ads spends. However, with this article, in particular, I would like to shed light on the many positives of the pandemic that has accelerated the technological advancement & growth in the OOH ad space.

If you come to think about it, the OOH industry was comfortable for the longest time with no massive stir within the industry in terms of data-driven ad serving, buying, and admeasurement. The topics were quite often discussed but usually put on the back burner as things were fine with the existing process in OOH. Having said that, the OOH ad impact wasn’t comprised at any point and in the current scenario. This impact is further amplified with the introduction of data and technology in the OOH ad space.

In this context, it would be safe to say that OOH as a medium hasn’t lost its impact. In fact, it has gained efficiencies through data and technology-based solutions. Programmatic Digital out of home, Traditional Digital OOH or static OOH media stakeholders all regrouped individually or at organizational levels to action many of long due solutions in the OOH ad space.

While Programmatic Digital out of home is built keeping in mind audience data, location intelligence and other key data points, many more improvements were incorporated to make this system even more robust. Many players introduced ad measurement systems in place to help advertisers gauge the impact of their DOOH ad exposure. In some cases, pDOOH players even developed solutions that converge two mediums i.e. Mobile and DOOH ads through concepts like parallel branding & mobile retargeting. 

Five keys aspects, in particular, saw major improvement during this lockdown namely – Audience density mapping, Data Harnessing, Ad impact measurement, the dynamic duo of mobile and DOOH & screen upgrades.

Audience Planning Tools - were in the forefront of this development as many stakeholders like agencies, screen owners and even DOOH networks developed platforms that gave brands visibility into the audience density, vehicular movement and other such deciding factors. Some of these tools rely on statistical or historic data usually provided by screen owners themselves. Other advanced tools reply on interconnected digital systems that use Camera vision, IOT beacons and other tech based data collation mechanism to gather live hourly audience footfall data mapped to any location required. What this does for the brands is that it helps them plan better and limit waste ad exposures.

Data Harnessing - The other area that is seeing a push in the OOH industry is data & how it can be used to serve relevant ads. Data by default when ingested in any ad system improves its effectiveness almost immediately. The case is no different when it comes to OOH. Many players have upped their data capabilities through partnerships with third party providers while programmatic DOOH players have invested into enhancing their existing DMP’s i.e. data management platform, a warehouse of multiple data stacks. Data can be categorised into basics like, gender, location, exposure count and at an advanced level such as handset type, persona etc.

Ad Impact Measurement - Thirdly the focus was also drawn towards measurement of DOOH ad impact. Only a few have cracked this in the OOH ad space & mostly players who are either in the DOOH realm or already a part of programmatic ad world.  Using real world audience behaviour insights gathered through non-personal signals emitted by mobile phones and then mapping it to data that indicates DOOH ad exposure helps arrive at the actual impact of DOOH ads on audiences.  Brand Lift surveys can also be conducted by using mobile devices as the source to conduct the survey. These are in the initial stages but are gaining momentum during the pandemic as each ad dollar is to be accounted for.

Beyond DOOH - Lastly Mobile and DOOH ad solutions are coming of age, where passive views can be converted into active engagers. Multiple studies in the past have shown that when used in sync with digital or mobile ad campaigns DOOH drives improved results in the digital ad metric with outcomes enhanced to 4X higher in comparison to stand-alone campaigns.

Screens Getting a Programmatic Update – many digital screens owners have to upgrade their systems to incorporate programmatic digital out of home solutions as a part of their offering as well. The number of programmatically enabled screens has grown 2 times faster than it had last year owning to the pandemic and growing appetite of marketers for more accountable advertising mediums.

In conclusion, OOH the oldest form of media has improved multi-folds in the current scenario. Like its said crisis breeds opportunity, and for the OOH industry, this exactly is the case where the medium is shaped up to better serve the advertisers while continuing to retain its offering of impact, visibility & reach.

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