The growing role of digital-out-of-home in a dynamic ad landscape
Online advertising dominated media spend over the last two decades, largely for its addressable, measurable nature, which used to make customer acquisition quick and easy. Over the course of the pandemic, digital ad spend continued to grow, but the tides are turning. Increasing use of online ad blockers and tighter government regulation around third-party data have made it tougher than ever to get the right messages in front of the right audience. To this end, we’re seeing a move away from standalone “make them buy us” campaigns targeting audiences on an individual level, toward sustainable brand building strategies with a mass audience appeal designed to “make them love us.”
As a result, out-of-home (OOH) – a proven medium for reaching mass audiences with a unique approach to addressable advertising – is capturing the market’s attention. Just this past quarter, U.S. OOH advertising spend topped $2.6B., and its overall share of media budgets continues to trend upward as more brands and media buying agencies embrace a hybrid strategy. Here’s why:
Lessons from digital advertising
Historically online and mobile advertising have leaned heavily on retargeting, which we’ve all experienced as a consumer. You click on a Facebook ad to check out a cool shirt, and suddenly the brand appears on every web page thereafter. While retargeting can build reach and frequency and convert an engaged audience to a sale, it can also send the audience scurrying to ad blockers, diminish trust and lead to brand churn.
These experiences have led to stricter online privacy policies driven by consumer demand, and the demise of the third-party cookie, a retargeting enabler. The approach also often means increased competition for ad space, so you lose impressions to a niche player or you’re paying more, but for sub-par inventory. With 1:1 addressable advertising channels (i.e. online, mobile), an ad play is an impression, whereas with a medium like OOH, one ad play will reach many people at once, in the real-world.
OOH: A conduit to mass audiences and much more
Integrating OOH into media plans is a smart sustainable brand building strategy, as it’s one of the most proven modes of mass audience advertising. Not only do OOH and DOOH help brands get noticed by many, but they’re also reported to deliver recall rates at 40 percent and 47 percent respectively, surpassing mobile at 35 percent and TV at 22 percent.
The medium is also having an impact beyond awareness. In fact, it’s increasingly integrated in media plans as a proven primer and action driver. In a recent OAAA and Comscore research examining online actions taken by consumers following exposure to ads, the findings revealed OOH is much more efficient in generating results than TV, video, radio, banner and print ads. In fact, OOH has shown to drive online activation at 5 times the expected rate given its relative ad spend.
OOH is also one of the oldest, most resilient ad channels and lends a certain credibility that other channels don’t. The medium’s continued growth, despite global lockdowns, is a testament to its ability to adapt and evolve with the times. Digitization of more OOH inventory in recent years, for instance, has made OOH more agile, bringing forth some benefits of mobile/online advertising to complement its inherent advantages.
At the same time, the evolution of programmatic technology in OOH has further advanced the medium. It’s also provided the flexibility that pandemic-era conditions demand. Programmatic DOOH platforms make it easy to adjust budgets on the fly or tailor campaigns to suit situational contexts and engage with audiences more authentically as they move throughout their day.
OOH versus other mass audience mediums
Compared to TV, which has become increasingly fragmented, and traditional print advertising, which has been on the decline for many years, OOH reaches mass audiences with the most efficient cost per thousand (CPM). Even as CTV, another mass medium, grows, OOH poses unique advantages.
Unlike TV and CTV, there is no fast forward functionality or ad blockers for OOH, so it’s hard for consumers to miss or skip over OOH ads as they might with CTV or TV ads. The medium also provides big creative canvases that can help you make a splash or simply extend the reach of your video ads on digital OOH screens in high attention place-based locations.
Furthermore, neuroscience findings of a two-year research project for OMA by Neuro-Insight show that one glance at a digital OOH ad has proven to elicit an emotional response that encodes into long term memory, beyond what a 15 second TV spot can produce.
Striking the right balance
Despite the impending death of third-party cookies, it’s unlikely that retargeting will disappear entirely; however, it’s making mass audience advertising mediums like OOH more essential than ever, especially when combined with one-to-one channels. Recognizing the advantages and shortcomings of highly addressable and mass audience advertising and finding the right synergy between the two can ensure a more nimble, well-rounded omnichannel approach to reaching target audiences with the right frequency and in the right contexts.
If you’re looking to maximize the efficiency and reach of your omnichannel campaigns with DOOH, take the complexity out of the process by setting up a strategy call with Broadsign. A programmatic DOOH media expert from our team will guide you through planning and execution, whether via our DOOH channel-specific buying platform or one of our 30+ DSP partners.
 CNBC (April 2021)
 OAAA Annual & Quarterly Revenue (August 2022)
 The Drum (April 2021)