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3 minute read | November 22, 2020

Programmatic OOH is growing and it’s in our power to unlock its full potential

Written By: Jean-Christophe Conti

We’ve all said it, this year is like no other. Whole industries have been thrown into disarray and within the marketing world, out of home (OOH) has, by its very nature, been hit hard during this time. Despite this, our annual State of the Nation research report, which launched last month, takes a deep dive into the programmatic OOH sector, predicts strong and continued growth for the industry.

The report surveyed 600 media executives in the UK, US and Germany in August 2020 to understand the industry’s perceptions of programmatic OOH, how it compares to other media channels and how it contributes to omni-channel strategies. Here’s my analysis of some of the key findings.

Continued growth expected for programmatic OOH

According to the report 99% of UK executives will be looking to increase spend on programmatic OOH in 2021 with over a third of these expecting to more than double it next year. The report also showed that 71% of UK executives believe programmatic advertising is important to their business’ marketing success at a time of crisis. These findings clearly demonstrate the enthusiasm for programmatic trading in the OOH channel as we continue to navigate uncertain times.

The omni-channel environment

With regards to the omni-channel environment, the report found that UK respondents forecast including programmatic OOH in 52% of all digital campaigns in 2021, up from 50% in the last 18 months. Despite the current uncertainty caused by the pandemic, it’s encouraging to see the appetite for using programmatic OOH as part of omni-channel campaigns continue to increase. Programmatic technology in a broadcast channel opens up a world of possibilities and should play a pivotal role in omni-channel strategies.

Flexibility a key asset of programmatic OOH

The report shows that 87% of UK respondents have planned or bought programmatic OOH in 2020 due to the flexibility it offers. Against an ever-changing socio-economic backdrop, programmatic OOH provides advertisers with huge flexibility as they can pause, pivot and optimise campaigns at a moment’s notice. As we face further lockdowns and restrictions, I believe this flexibility will be crucial to the continued adoption of programmatic OOH as we move into 2021.

Challenging perceptions

In the UK market, an equal proportion of agency and advertiser executives (60%) believe that programmatic OOH is important for brand-led campaigns. In addition, 55% of agencies and 70% of advertisers believe it is important for performance-led campaigns. As a true broadcast medium OOH helps build brand awareness and with the emergence of programmatic technology, it also meets performance goals, making programmatic OOH a unique tool for marketers, and one which can now be planned centrally alongside other media. As advertisers strive to find the right balance between long term brand building and more immediate performance goals, having access to a channel that meets both cannot be underestimated.

The need for more robust measurement

The report found that 56% of UK respondents were looking for more information about cross-channel measurement. It also highlighted a lack of consensus around measurement solutions although performance-based metrics such as an increase in sales, reach or store visits were considered to be the most effective.

At VIOOH we have been working with industry bodies to champion standardised measurement for programmatic OOH as we believe that a clear vision on measurement and attribution is vital for the sector’s continued growth.

More training will aid wider adoption

Understanding the unique benefits of programmatic OOH, which include its ability to achieve both brand-led and performance goals, its ability to align with mobile and other channels to elevate omni-channel campaigns, its flexibility and the trigger-based targeting that it offers is fundamental to how widely it is adopted in broader campaigns. Crucially, our research found that only 56% of respondents across the three markets felt that they fully understood programmatic OOH and its benefits. In the UK over half of executives (60%) want training on the benefits that it offers.

In such an uncertain climate, it’s clear that external forces will play their part in how marketers plan their campaigns in 2021. However, it’s interesting to see that some of the biggest barriers to the adoption of programmatic OOH, including standardised measurement and more training are actually within our control. The onus is now on us, as an industry, to create the best possible environment in order to unlock the full potential that this channel has to offer.

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