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3 minute read | August 10, 2020

Digital Out-Of-Home: The next game changer in your omnichannel campaign

Written By: Joel Livesey


Billboards: one of the oldest ways of advertising. Whether standing tall by the motorway, on the side of skyscrapers or dotted around train stations, we all encounter them regularly.

So, what’s so special about these classic sights going digital?

Out of home (OOH) adverts can now be bought online, programmatically, meaning billboard ads can be changed, amended – or switched off - in real time. Creatives can be replaced automatically to respond to the external environment, maximising the effectiveness of any ad.

Picture the scene; it’s grey and pouring with rain, the advert emblazoned on the bridge over the dreary M25 displays a well-loved hot chocolate brand. In typical UK style, fifteen minutes later, the sky clears, the sun comes out and commuters roll their windows down in relief. Just as quickly, that billboard ad can switch to show a tempting glass of cool iced tea.

Flexible advertising for changeable times

In digital advertising, the user journey is the key to mapping the delivery of adverts. So now OOH has gone programmatic, where does it fit?

The simple answer is that it can fit anywhere. A programmatic digital OOH (DOOH) advert works well at the beginning, middle or end of the user journey. Let’s consider using DOOH as the starting point. Advertisers can begin the consumer journey with a DOOH ad at the station on the way to work, getting the brand on consumer’s radars. The journey can then be continued by serving more actionable ads on other channels afterwards. For example, when the DOOH ad shows the latest BMW model, users in the area of the billboard can be shown an advert for a free test drive later, on their mobiles.

But shifting it to the other end of the journey can be equally effective. Let’s say a Connected TV (CTV) advert for Nike trainers performed well in a certain area one night; with a programmatic buy, in-campaign optimisation means billboards in the area can display the same trainers the next day with information on the nearest Nike stockist. This flexibility empowers advertisers to tell more consistent, and more personal stories, across multiple channels, all in a privacy conscious way.

It’s also possible to feed in real-time data to inform programmatic DOOH campaigns. From pollen count for allergy medicine to live transport updates, DOOH can adapt to coordinate with peoples’ literal journeys, as well as their digital ones. An advert for a London tourist attraction in St Pancras Station could be timed to be displayed exactly at the same time as hundreds of excited tourists coming in on the Eurostar. If the train is delayed by an hour, so too is the ad.

Budgets are tight, is it affordable?

Much in the way that a full page spread in the Daily Mail costs far more than a carefully placed ad on Mail Online, DOOH becoming available programmatically means that OOH isn’t just a ‘go big or go home’ medium anymore. The new generation of DOOH ads will be available in every shape and size to meet every variety of budget. Adding DOOH to programmatic channels has made this high reach medium more accessible than ever before. Because of the flexibility, the minimum spend required to secure a space has actually dropped. This means small, local businesses can also reap the rewards of this powerful channel.

Out of home advertising belongs in the omnichannel campaign

The fact that OOH ads can now be bought programmatically means campaigns can be easily monitored across every channel, all from one buying platform. Budgets can be shifted and prioritised based on what’s working and what’s not. In the face of economic uncertainty, this level of flexibility will be invaluable for cost-effective, efficient advertising.

Advertisers can finally factor in OOH ads when looking at what drives users to buy products or click on links across a multi-channel campaign. In going programmatic, OOH ads have become a measurable part of the omnichannel approach for the first time.

As a DSP partner of VIOOH, we at The Trade Desk are hugely excited for the advancement that programmatic DOOH represents, and the omnichannel campaigns we can now book for our clients. So, whether it’s a Rolex watch advert displayed in the evening outside Kensington’s most expensive restaurants when the right target audience is the vicinity, or a small local bakery advertising to commuters that they have time to pick up a pastry due to train delays, programmatic digital out of home is an investment worth making.

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