The time for DOOH’s Renaissance

Posted by Jason Cooper on 02.04.2020

According to Statistica outdoor is one of the few mediums expected to grow in the next 3 years. The outlook is positive, however the growth isn’t by any means explosive or meteoric. But this the time is ripe for this medium to experience a renaissance especially when digital is facing many issues.

On paper DOOH should be raking in the dollars from the digital budgets that are fraught with issues such as privacy (GDPR/CCPA anyone?) and the forthcoming deprecation of the cookie in Chrome (goodbye uniques, reach & frequency.. hello context.) Talk to any digital media buyer who’s having to deal with brand safety, fraud and viewability issues (anything 50% + viewability is perceived as good). DOOH should be a breath of fresh air and the world’s easiest sell – kind of like shooting fish in a barrel. Except that growth is modest and the digital and DOOH agency buyers for the same client, aren’t even in the same room. But the wider, macro issue with DOOH is a lack of independent measurement. 

The digital buyer has had access to a plethora of tools for tracking measurement and ROI; ad servers; publisher & agency side, verification pixels, audience measurement & more. But for the large part DOOH’s been a walled garden, a locked down environment that hasn’t allowed 3rd parties in. It’s an industry where the technology has been designed and built by the sell side, for the sell side with little to no input from the buyer. That in part has hampered investment in the medium. We talk about taking budget from the digital pot, but what tools does the digital buyer have to measure success in DOOH when they’ve always had – and expect, measurement tools at their fingertips? 

Until we have independent 3rd party measurement as de facto (this includes verification, 3rd party ad serving..) in DOOH, the big digital budgets will struggle to justify the investment into an unmeasurable medium. This is something that was solved recently for mobile in-app. Arguably for in-app the challenge was harder – and it took a solid effort from the major verification vendors and the IAB Tech Lab, together with a handful of key publishers to agree on a solution. The Open Measurement Working Group  was formed and developed an SDK that could be adopted to solve for amongst other things, viewability and transparency into the app environment. For DOOH media owners, the solution is even simpler – open up your firewalls and processes and embrace 3rd party measurement. 

The good news is change is on the way. Here in Australia a few of the major agency groups have recently conducted a review of verification vendors solving for DOOH. Programmatic is also starting to move into this medium that will bring about change – Vistar have launched an office in the region. And global verification heavyweight Integral Ad Science are making moves into DOOH.

At a time when digital is fraught with issues including viewability, brand safety and fraud, investment into DOOH should be an open goal – but let’s give the buyers the empirical, evidence based data that is independently measured.