How do we prove OOH does anything?

How do we prove OOH does anything?
Top L-R: OOH campaigns across UK on JCDecaux, Global and Ocean Outdoor screens, and a special build.

DOOH is having a moment. So why is it still such a small percentage of global adspend?

“Let’s make this the year that OOH gets to 10%!”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that. For as long as I can remember, it’s been the closing remark at every OOH conference. A call to arms to make this the year that OOH share of adspend hockey-sticks up from 5% to 10%. And yet.

Globally, OOH appears stuck; trapped between the rise of online advertising and the steady decline of linear broadcast. While broadcast sheds viewers and online marches inexorably towards 70% adspend share, OOH stays steady between 4 to 5%.

This is despite what has been a steady stream of bad news for online. The impending deprecation of cookies is just around the corner, bugs on Meta are wreaking overspend havoc, digital ad fraud is rife and the Forbes ‘made for advertising’ (MFA) alt-website story seems to just keep snowballing.

On the other hand, OOH is going from strength to strength. Inventory is digitising at a rapid clip — making it faster and cheaper to deliver, and more dynamic than ever.

Nine in 10 people in the USA claim to notice OOH ads, with nearly 80% of those then inspired to take action. And the rise of programmatic OOH through the likes of Hivestack by Perion, The Trade Desk and Vistar Media are adding a performance marketing angle to an already strong brand marketing medium.

OOH is on a roll. So, what gives?

Despite the massive digital innovation, it hasn’t been enough to shift the dial. Why?

Let’s face it, OOH still has a credibility problem. From measurability, to transparency, to ROI — CMOs and marketers don’t feel they have the certainty needed to stake a larger share of spend on OOH.

Or, as one senior marketer put to me recently, “I just can’t tell if it does anything.” This is the perception that the OOH industry needs to reckon with, and overcome.

But there is good news in here, I promise.

The growing utilisation of programmatic DOOH is a testament to what can happen when we empower advertisers with the opportunity to run measurable, data-driven and trigger-based campaigns.

Programmatic is growing quickly: in the UK, brands are expected to increase their programmatic investment by almost a third over the next 12-18 months. It’s an example that we can now look to build upon across the entire industry.

We have to prove OOH can become the most trusted media channel

In March this year, at the World Out of Home forum in sunny Cape Town, World Out of Home Organisation president Tom Goddard put forward his prescription for six measures to grow the industry: digital transformation, media ownership consolidation, better measurement, automation, demonstrating value, and building trust.

It almost seems too obvious to say, but these are inextricably linked.

Digital transformation, measurement and tracking will create the conditions for the industry to demonstrate value and subsequently build trust.

Consolidation and automation go hand in hand, as advertisers seek simplified, standardised delivery and reporting processes.

Get these right, and all of a sudden we have a unified, automated and — most importantly — credible OOH ecosystem.

We already have the ingredients for success

On the digital transformation front, media owners globally are already making prolific inroads in terms of the digitisation of inventory. In the UK and Australia, share of OOH revenue from DOOH now stands at 65% and 74% respectively. The US is still trailing behind at 36%, but presents enormous upside for further growth.

The opportunity this digitisation of inventory brings is exponential, facilitating the introduction of complementary tools and services to make the advertising ecosystem more efficient, trackable and measurable. These are the tech-enabled tools that modern marketers, raised on a diet of performance marketing and campaign measurement, now demand as standard.

So let’s give it to them. With regards to campaign measurement, companies such as Move, Route and Geopath now have the data availability to effectively and affordably measure impressions. As an industry, we need to double down on folding these tools into our delivery and reporting ecosystem.

On the verification side, the simple fact is that advertisers no longer accept grading our own homework as sufficient. Independent third-party companies offer advertisers certainty that their campaigns are delivered as booked, demonstrating value and creating conditions for deeper investment in OOH.

We need only look to Australia for proof that adoption of third party verification tools can help grow the industry — in the years since independent verification reached critical mass, the OOH industry has grown at double the rate it did before.

Here at Veridooh, our Australian clients have increased their investment into OOH by an average of 60% since introducing verification. This isn’t a coincidence. To paraphrase the old adage: what gets tracked, improves.

OOH can become the most attractive channel to invest in

Recent investigation into online ad fraud has revealed structural issues that are severely compromising advertiser trust and confidence. A lack of viewability, ad safety, poor inventory quality, and opaque pricing transparency due to hidden costs are just some of the myriad issues now facing the industry.

Marketers are craving transparency and proof that they are getting what they paid for — and the OOH industry is uniquely well-positioned to deliver this. By working collaboratively with pioneering tech tools and infrastructure and embracing independent verification we can make OOH the most trusted channel.

It’s a long road to 10%, but the first steps start here.

Nick Parker

Nick Parker is global president at Veridooh. He was worked in the OOH industry for 35 years, most recently as global chief operating officer at WPP’s outdoor specialist agency Kinetic Worldwide.

Adwanted UK is the trusted delivery partner for three essential services which deliver accountability, standardisation, and audience data for the out-of-home industry. Playout is Outsmart’s new system to centralise and standardise playout reporting data across all outdoor media owners in the UK. SPACE is the industry’s comprehensive inventory database delivered through a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution which delivers the ooh industry’s audience data quickly and simply into clients’ systems. Contact us for more information on SPACE, J-ET, Audiotrack or our data engines.

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