Advertisers, agencies buying into digital, programmatic out-of-home

Fresh reports from the IAB, OMA and a recent brand campaign across digital out-of-home show growing interest in the new category thanks to its transparency and creative capabilities

Almost one-quarter of Australian agencies traded digital out-of-home (DOOH) inventory during 2020, a third are getting into programmatic digital out-of-home and greater creative experimentation is on its way in FY22 and beyond, the IAB reports.

The latest figures come as the Outdoor Media Association also reports a triple-digit increase in net media revenue across the category to $203.3 million for Q2, 2021, with DOOH picking up the lion’s share.

According to a new Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) of Australia report released this week, Attitudes to Programmatic DOOH, advertising agencies continued to embrace both DOOH and programmatic digital out-of-home (pDOOH) despite depressed market conditions across the category during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. The report is based on a survey of 183 buyers and advertising undertaken in May 2021.

One-quarter of agencies said they traded digital out-of-home inventory for the first time during 2020, and another 10 per cent increased programmatic investment. Across the group, 73 per cent are using traditional out-of-home regularly, 59 per cent are using digital out-of-home regularly and 34 per cent are trading programmatic digital out-of-home regularly.

Decision factors driving pDOOH adoption include flexible buying options (nominated by 59 per cent of respondents), operational efficiency (58 per cent) and enhanced data targeting options (58 per cent). Self-reported cross-channel planning potential is another positive for more than half of those surveyed.

The IAB report also found greater experimentation is expected in FY22, with a range of agencies intending to use other formats for the first time. Top of the list is HTML (40 per cent), followed by video (37 per cent) and dynamic creative (36 per cent).

However, agencies are still working out where pDOOH fits internally in their planning and buying. The report showed 37 per cent are using the same team to place and buy OOH and pDOOH, and almost half of pDOOH decision makers are planning and buying independently of other media.

IAB Australia chair of the DOOH Working Group and Broadsign sales director, Ben Allman, said the first piece of research to come out of the working group was about pinpointing where industry effort is required to maximise investment in the space.

“There has been plenty of chatter regarding the willingness of brands and agencies to embrace the programmatic buying of DOOH and the findings of the report confirm this,” he said. “Overwhelmingly, brands and agencies are telling us that there is still a lack of understanding when it comes to pDOOH. The Working Group is committed to improving education and we have a number of exciting resources and initiatives which will launch later this year.”

A second piece of international research into digital out-of-home this week released by artificial intelligence (AI) SaaS company, Alfi, also showed growing adoption. The survey of 100 advertising decision makers across the US, UK, France, Germany and Asia found 96 per cent of advertising executives expect digital out-of-home to grow over the next two years, 51 per cent predicting dramatic expansion.

Nearly two of three executives expected the DOOH market to grow from its current estimated value of $41.06 billion to up to $55 billion by 2026. A further 16 per cent expect it to exceed this figure, while 14 per cent estimate DOOH trading could be even higher. The main reason touted for this growth is bigger general spend on digital advertising.

Again, 62 per cent said advances in technology meant digital out-of-home advertising will be able to provide even more analysis around campaigns run on them. Other reasons for anticipated increased spend include growing focus on evaluating advertising campaigns and the strength of the DOOH market, and a rapid increase in the number of advertising digital screens being rolled out.  

Brand buy-in: Stake touts DOOH success 

One brand that has bought into DOOH’s impact is fintech startup, Stake, which recently worked with Bench Media on a DOOH campaign that led to a 219 per cent uplift in app downloads.  

The Stake DOOH campaign ran in January 2021 across NSW and was designed to improve brand awareness, drive new customers to Stake’s app and increase engagement with existing customers. CBD locations were chosen, and Bench and Stake used lookalike audiences in order to identify specific locations that best suited the brand’s ambition. The campaign was managed via Bench’s campaign management software.  

Other parameters used included identifying specific times when people were outdoors and could see the ads, proximity to shopping centres, gyms and petrol stations. The team then used geotargeting to retarget consumers across digital channel. Stake also brought in app attribution partner, Branch, to link those exposed to the DOOH campaign to those that downloaded its app.    

It found app installs were 219 per cent higher when the DOOH was live compared to pre-campaign. Other key results included a 54 per cent install to activation rate, over 1.1 million impressions and more than 38,000 anonymous device IDs captured for cross-channel retargeting  

Stake CMO, Bryan Wilmot, said new innovations in DOOH are rapidly accelerating its potential to target audiences in a sophisticated way at scale, particularly as consumer activity resumes post-pandemic.  

“Out-of-home is a channel for the ages. It's one of those cultural mediums which can rapidly scale awareness and build fame simultaneously,” he commented. “However, programmatic DOOH is reshaping its capability from broadcast-only to enable more sophisticated targeting strategies and connected audience approaches. It's exciting to be experimenting with projects that will take the channel to a new level.”  

Broader OOH boom

News of growing interest and experimentation in digital out-of-home as well as programmatic DOOH came as the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) reported strong overall sales for the second quarter of the year, indicative of the category’s recovery.  

The industry body this week reported an increase of 125 per cent on net media revenue to $203.3 million for Q2, 2021, up from $90.3 million over the same period last year. Of this, digital OOH revenue accounted for 61 per cent of total net media revenue year-to-date, a 57.9 per cent year-on-year increase.  

OMA said year-to-date revenue increased 22 per cent and is sitting at $374.6 million, an increase from $307 million on 2020 revenue.  

“Out-of-home advertising felt the full brunt of the pandemic at the height of lockdowns in Q2 2020, which explains the explosive increase of 125 per cent year-on-year,” OMA CEO, Charmaine Moldrich noted. “A better indication of our recovery is that we are only down by 17 per cent on pre-pandemic revenue from Q2 2019. Each month this year has been better than the previous month.”

Moldrich said the industry is “determined” to see its revenue recover to pre-pandemic levels by December 2021.

“We are also determined to innovate the way we sell out-of-home, making it easier for advertisers to measure its value,” she said. “We are not only making it easier to buy by updating our audience measurement system, but we are also introducing a new value-based currency in Q3 following an extensive neuroscience research study we have conducted over past two years.”

These innovations have attracted 10 new members who have joined the membership in the last six months, Moldrich said. She also noted an array of fresh advertisers coming to OOH including tech companies, who are buying campaigns for the first time.

According to Standard Media Index (SMI) advertising spend figures to come out earlier this week, OOH bookings grew 198 per cent year-on-year in May. SMI reported total Australian ad spend for the month of May soared by more than 70 per cent year-on-year, exceeding pre-Covid results for the first time since the crisis began.

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