Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Roundtable recap: why Digital Out of Home offers a unique blend of data and creativity 

Will the deprecation of third-party cookies have any impact on the popularity of programmatic Digital Out of Home (pDOOH)? What role can first-party data play in leveraging pDOOH successfully? Will data-led OOH dampen the creativity associated with outdoor campaigns?

These were among the questions tackled by a panel of DOOH industry experts, assembled by New Digital Age (NDA) earlier this month. NDA’s editor-in-chief Justin Pearse led the roundtable discussion where he was joined by Nadia Stowell, OOH Business Director at Spark Foundry; Jem Djemal, Global New Business Lead at VIOOH; Lee Cutter, Vice President, Sale (UK & Emerging Markets) with Hivestack; Jackie Lyons, Head of Planning (Media Experience) at Havas Media Group; Cheryl Crilley, Business Director at Kinetic Worldwide; and Simon Jenkins, Joint Chief Strategy Officer at VCCP. 

Spark Foundary’s Nadia Stowell kicked-off the discussion by spelling out exactly why Digital Out of Home is in a great position to benefit from the deprecation of third-party cookies and the loss of other personal identifiers from the digital media playbook. 

Stowell said: “DOOH has a real opportunity at the moment as brand marketers and their agencies try to figure out how to reach target audiences without cookies. The good thing for DOOH as a format is that we have already been demonstrating and showcasing that we can do exactly that and, even better, the techniques we’re using won’t be affected by any future cookie deprecation.  That said, we need to be very careful not to over-sell what’s possible with programmatic DOOH.”

Simon Jenkins of VCCP agreed that there’s never been a better time for Outdoor as an industry to raid ad budgets at both ends of the funnel: “On one hand, we can leverage first-party data, third-party data and things like Dynamic Content Optimisation (DCO) to compete at the sharp end. With cookies and other ID signals disappearing, it means that digital display revenues are vulnerable right now. Then, at the top of the funnel, traditional TV budgets are vulnerable too, with subscription services like Netflix and Disney+ continuing to grow their audiences. TV’s potential to reach young audiences has never been weaker. 

“Outdoor, meanwhile, has remained consistently visible to audiences across all demographics and can now be bought in a more intelligent way than ever before,” said Jenkins.

Creative conundrum

DCO is display ad tech that personalises an ad based on data about the viewer at the moment of ad serving. Dynamic ads typically outperform their static counterparts, often significantly.

Jackie Lyons of Havas argued that, as the technical capabilities of programmatic DOOH continue to evolve, the outdoor advertising industry should be careful not to lose sight of the creativity that made the format popular in the first place. 

She said: “Outdoor is famous for being iconic. As we move into more of a programmatic world, yes, there are more messaging opportunities, there’s more logic and more data to target audiences effectively, but there’s also a risk that OOH loses its ‘iconic’ feel. 

“It’s interesting that, creatively, we don’t talk often about the upper funnel and outdoor’s DCO capabilities, as readily as we talk about mid and lower funnel tactics. Generally speaking, though, creative agencies still have no idea about any of this. We need media owners to reach out to big creative agencies to sit down and explain the benefits and capabilities of programmatic DOOH.” 

Kinetic’s Cheryl Crilly built on the increasing importance of contextual targeting and agreed that the capabilities of pDOOH are currently under-utilised. She said: “At Kinetic, our ‘Journeys’ behavioural planning tool, incorporates mobile data and other privacy-compliany datasets, then fuses those with route data. This allows you to understand audience mobility in relation to DOOH panels and frames. It’s very targeted without relying on third party cookies. It’s more about predicting audience mobility across geographical locations. 

“In the UK, DCO area still makes up less than 10% of spending on DOOH, while DOOH makes up about 70% of total spending on Out of Home. That seems like a huge wasted opportunity. Creative agencies need to better understand factors like dwell times and consumer mindsets in different environments.”

Visions of the future

Jem Djemal of VIOOH explained how the ability to programmatically cherry pick individual pDOOH screens, combined with DCO, opens up the potential for a new age of sequential creative messaging.

Djemal said: “There are environments like airports and rail stations where media owners are starting to introduce sequential capabilities that could be hugely impactful. We’re having these conversations in the UK right now. We operate across 18 or 19 different markets, and they’re all at different stages of their development, but the great thing is we’re taking the learnings from the UK, the US, Australia, and starting to filter those into other markets like Italy and Spain. In some instances, the markets that aren’t as developed are actually more open to testing DCO because their setup isn’t as broad.” 

Lee Cutter of Hivestack believes that the evolution of Outdoor Advertising will ultimately lead marketers back towards craft and creativity, once the operational wrinkles are ironed out. He said: “We’re getting better at delivering things like DCO, but there’s still a lot of ‘process’ around activating programmatic DOOH that needs to be made easier for buyers. The good news for the OOH sector is that we have budgets coming through from more sources than ever. We’ve got around 25 demand partners in the UK, and I’d estimate that half of them are pure play digital agencies. We also work with network agencies, we work trading desks and their central digital teams, and we work with specialist teams. Interest in OOH has never been stronger.“

Read part one of this discussion here.