Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Akama Davies: Something old, something new: How digital-first brands can thrive in out-of-home

Akama Davies is Director, Global Solutions and Innovation at Xaxis, and NDA’s monthly columnist.

There is an exciting evolution in the powerful, one-to-many medium that brands have been utilising for centuries – out-of-home (OOH). Outdoor sites are increasingly becoming digitised, with Bloomberg expecting digital out-of-home (DOOH) to make up 44% of all outdoor by 2025. Those digital sites are increasingly becoming available programmatically, driving opportunities for omnichannel and digital budgets.

There are two distinct profiles of marketers investing in DOOH: the outdoor-first and the digital-first, each with their specific use cases and expectations for their campaigns. It’s imperative for players in the OOH space to provide expert guidance and solutions that serve both.

For digital-first marketers specifically, it is essential for DOOH to have the same hallmarks from a buying, targeting, and measurement perspective as other digital channels. Consequently, which factors will enable digital-first marketers to thrive in OOH?

The DOOH difference

As with any channel, there is a range of challenges to be navigated. For digital-first advertisers, among them are supply complexity, single scalable buying points, consistent metrics, and robust attribution. 

As the cookieless future looms, DOOH stands out amongst the cookieless options. It provides a proven, trusted, scalable means to broadcast to target audiences with a new host of creative opportunities.

In the cookieless future, DOOH, in many instances, will have an edge on previous cookie-based digital channels, such as leveraging the physical context of consumers, e.g., mapping the creative to live events such as weather, news, sports results.

Bridging the programmatic gap

Programmatic is the catalyst in OOH’s next evolution bringing forward all kinds of new capabilities and opportunities in OOH, including enhanced targeting, performance optimization, responsive creativity, omnichannel integration, and outcome-driven strategies.

Nevertheless, Programmatic DOOH is still at a nascent stage. We need to extol the many virtues of programmatic DOOH, such as automation saving 50% of time vs. traditional planning cycles. Also, that buying hourly audience vs. OOH’s historical 2-weekly periods leads to +35% more efficient ad spend.

Unlike its programmatic counterparts, DOOH’s creative is a communal experience; therefore, to maximize it, we must tweak the levers of context, proximity, and audience for the greatest impact. Furthermore, to make the potential entirely understandable, marketers need robust yet simple solutions guided by diverse expertise.

Realizing DOOH’s omnichannel potential

Combining DOOH with omnichannel is pivotal to unleash the strategic value and full consumer potential of DOOH. We have seen DOOH prime other channels effectively driving a +80% lift in search, a +56% lift in social, and up to 6x higher ROI on mobile vs. regular targeting, enabling brands to cut through the noise in increasingly complex consumer journeys.

This is why at GroupM, we’ve developed ‘Sightline,’ a global digital out-of-home offering designed to help brands realize the promise of DOOH as part of omnichannel ad campaigns through advanced end-to-end DOOH solutions and technology  – powered by multidisciplinary talent.

Sightline was borne from the combined innovation of Xaxis and Kinetic in the US – GroupM’s programmatic and outdoor specialists – and has already helped brands achieve results like 77% brand lift and 50% ROI improvements.

A media frontier reborn

The role of DOOH has always been primarily to drive fame and awareness for a brand using a rich, high-impact canvas, and this is still set to be the case. As the channel becomes increasingly programmatic, we can use data and technology to quantify the impact of DOOH as a stand-alone channel and, in combination with others, to demonstrate the medium’s both tangible and sometimes intangible benefits like social proofing, brand fitness, and trust.

DOOH presents a significant opportunity for brands to connect with consumers through a newfound appreciation for outdoor spaces gradually being reclaimed as the market recovers from the pandemic. We are also seeing an increased diversity of agency teams and brands utilizing DOOH, which opens even more innovation and use cases for DOOH on a media plan creating a reborn frontier for digital marketers to explore and invest.