As consumers, we are accustomed to seeing targeted ads across our computers and devices, but the near future could see these types of ads follow us out onto the streets. As digital out-of-home (DOOH) inventory starts to be traded and managed programmatically, with Google being the most recent to dip its toe in the water, will this offer advertisers another environment in which to effectively target their audience?
The evolving OOH marketplace
The OOH marketplace has been transformed over the past 5 years with the advent of digital screens. Aside from massively increasing the inventory available, this technology has opened up huge possibilities in terms of creative and enabled dramatically quicker turnaround times. DOOH advertising also boasts a major competitive advantage in that it cannot be muted, skipped or closed down, and can also offer proximity to point-of-sale.
On the downside, the traditional method of manually purchasing OOH on a fortnightly rotation has been slow to adapt, which has made it difficult for advertisers to target and optimise DOOH campaigns in the way that they are accustomed to with online advertising. However, times are changing as an increasing number of ad exchanges are offering the ability to purchase OOH space programmatically. A few months ago, Rubicon Project announced a tie-up with BITPOSTER, a UK trading platform for OOH advertising, whereby Rubicon Project will provide the automation technology by which inventory can be traded. Xaxis Places, launched in 2013, allows advertisers to purchase DOOH inventory through real-time bidding.
Right place, right time
Aside from the time and cost saved by buying programmatically, advertisers can now make their DOOH campaigns smarter than ever before. Programmatic buying allows advertisers to take into account real-time data such as time of day, weather, results of sporting events (the list is almost endless) and use this information to decide which ad to serve, which creative, or even whether to serve an ad at all.
As an example of what DOOH advertising can be capable of, British Airways ran a campaign last year at Piccadilly Circus which showed a child looking up and pointing each time a BA plane flew over, with the destination and live ticket price flashing up on screen. In Australia, ad exchange AdBidx has developed technology which uses biometric image recognition to determine the age and gender of passers-by in order to decide which ad or creative to serve.
As always though, the effectiveness of such targeting depends on the quality of the data. DOOH is a relatively new medium, meaning that there is only a limited amount of audience data. DOOH also cannot offer the same tracking and data collection capabilities as the web, meaning that it will be a lot harder for advertisers to measure the success of campaigns. There are also privacy considerations, as there is no obvious way for individuals to opt out of receiving targeted advertising through this medium.
Integration with online campaigns
Last month, Google began using its DoubleClick technology to run a DOOH campaign for its own brands, purchasing the inventory upfront and using DoubleClick to determine which ads and creative should be served, based on real-time data. Although stating that the trial is just testing “proof of concept”, the market tends to sit up and take notice once Google becomes involved, and many have taken it as a sign that advertisers may soon be able to buy DOOH space through DoubleClick. Given the fact that an enormous amount of advertisers use DoubleClick for online advertising, this could mean a move towards more integrated online and DOOH campaigns.
However, Tim Collier – DoubleClick’s head of mobile solutions, – has stated that:
“There is a common misconception that the merging of these two industries is straightforward. This test has highlighted a number of areas that are fundamentally different and which will require further development and integration before this becomes a market reality.”
Which sounds like this may be where Google, and inevitably therefore the rest of the market, is heading.