When paired with programmatic DOOH, digital billboard advertising offers a unique combination of mass brand awareness and audience targeting functionality.

Top DOOH advertising CEOs predict a return to pre-pandemic revenues this year as lockdown restrictions ease. With more DOOH inventory available than ever before, digital outdoor advertising presents a tempting option for SMBs looking to capitalize on a return to normalcy.

“While out-of-home advertising (OOH) may sound a little old-fashioned, digital out-of-home (DOOH) is on the rise – despite two years of lockdowns and travel restrictions,” says Lisen Zethraeus, CMO, DanAds. “Indeed, the global DOOH advertising market is slated to grow from USD$4.3bn (£3.2bn) in 2020 to USD$5.6bn (£4.2bn) in 2026, according to Marketwatch. The number of digital billboards, taxis, and place-based ads in the US has increased by more than 40% in the last four years. Finally, thanks to the increased adoption of self-serve ad sales, advertisers of all sizes will have greater access to OOH, which will only fuel the growth of DOOH further.”

The SMB Guide to DOOH: How to market your SMB Business using DOOH


With a flood of advertisers exploring the possibilities of DOOH, how can you ensure your digital billboard ads stand out?

A good place to start is with the audience targeting options that digital billboards offer – one of the greatest and most recognised benefits of programmatic DOOH, according to a recent survey of over 1,000 senior agency and advertising executives.

Attributes and digital media types

(Image source: State of the Nation: Programmatic OOH 2021)

What Is Programmatic DOOH?

Programmatic digital out of home advertising (‘programmatic DOOH’ or ‘pDOOH’) refers to digital billboard and other media space bought via an automated bidding platform, or programmatic exchange.

Programmatic DOOH platforms allow you to:

  • Track and optimize your campaign with real-time metrics
  • Automate bidding on ad inventory and streamline previously laborious buying processes
  • Specify the conditions under which you buy inventory – your ad is only displayed (and you only pay) when these conditions are met

This allows you to stop, start and optimize campaigns based on performance and external events while targeting audiences based on location, weather conditions, temperature, footfall data or even highway traffic.

Investment in digital OOH is also investment in more usable data.

A recent survey suggests 96% of senior advertising executives utilize data gathered from DOOH ads to fuel wider campaign creativity and engage with even more specified audiences. The more you target your digital billboard campaign, the more data you have on what works and what doesn’t – key insights which you can then use in future campaigns.

Agreement with pooh advertising

(Image source: State of the Nation: Programmatic OOH 2021)

As Toby Lett, Product Director at Xaxis, puts it, “The quality consumer insights it provides marketers enables them to implement highly effective media planning, reach audiences at the best time and place, and maximise campaign relevance to drive business outcomes. Additionally, by allowing media owners to monetise hourly ad slots, programmatic capabilities will make pDOOH more accessible to brands regardless of budget size, boosting growth even further.”

Targeting based on anonymised mobile location data (plus other data sources), weather conditions, temperature, footfall, demographics, and many other factors gives advertisers unparalleled visibility among the specific audiences they want to reach.

Read More: 3 Great Benefits of Programmatic DOOH for SMB Brands

The trade off, of course, is that advertising on digital billboards can be more expensive than traditional printed billboards in terms of impressions (i.e., the number of people who see your ad). This raises an important question.

Digital Billboard Cost: Is It Worthwhile?

Digital billboards are more expensive than traditional billboards.

Recent research by PJ Solomon suggests that you’ll pay around $2-10 per thousand impressions for a static billboard ad. Typically, digital billboards cost between $5-32 per thousand impressions.

What advantages does this increase in price get you?

It’s all about the types of audience you can access. A traditional billboard ad will remain up permanently for a fixed period – regardless of whether it’s suited to the audience passing it at any given time. This means you’re essentially paying for dead time, when the ad won’t be doing much for you.

By contrast, a digital billboard usually plays a series of ads on loop. If you use a programmatic buying platform, however, your ad only shows when conditions that you specify (such as footfall or temperature) can be met. You may pay more for the ad space but you gain the potential to make a greater return on your investment.

How to Target Specific Audiences with Digital Billboard Advertising

Adopt a Location-Based DOOH Strategy

Place-based marketing is simply using the physical location of your ads to add contextual relevancy to their appeal. It’s why you’ll see ads for sports drinks at the gym or billboards signposting fast food drive-thrus on busy stretches of highway.

For small businesses in particular, location plays a huge role in drawing customers in. A billboard’s location can build brand awareness among target audiences in spaces they’re most likely to be found, provide directions to physical premises, or even encourage mobile or online interaction.

Read more: Four Reasons Why Place-Based Marketing Is the Way of the Future

By targeting digital billboards in particular spaces, you immediately gain access to certain types of audiences – and that’s before exploring any of the more advanced pDOOH capabilities. Think about where your target demographics are and when they would be most receptive to your messaging.

For example, UK online estate agency Purple Bricks launched a simple but memorable highly effective DOOH campaign advertising their USP – no commission on home sales – on major commuting routes. This helped attract wealthier workers who were more likely to own a home to sell, as well as increasing recognition for the now instantly recognizable brand color scheme.

Digital Billboard attached to building

Source: facebook.com

According to recent research by PJ Solomon, you can expect to pay an average of anywhere from $2-10 per thousand impressions for a static billboard ad, and between $4.5-32 per thousand impressions for a digital billboard ad.

If you want to buy digital ad space programmatically by using a demand side platform to automatically bid on inventory that meets your own specified criteria, you’ll buy based on CPM. This is beneficial to advertisers because:

  • Your OOH campaign forecasting is more accurate:buying based on impressions helps you gauge the reach of your campaign and strategize accordingly.
  • You pay for performance: you know how much reach a billboard has before you buy it – you might pay a premium for city center billboards but you’re likely to get a better return on your spend thanks to increased foot traffic.

How Effective Is Billboard Advertising?

Do you have a product that would sell better under certain conditions? Think hot drinks when it’s cold, ice-creams when it’s hot or indoor craft equipment when it’s raining.

If so, you can use programmatic DOOH to specify that you only want space on electronic billboards where these conditions can be met. This is a simple and highly effective way of selling consumer goods in particular – eBay used it to great effect a couple of years ago, running a pDOOH campaign that advertised different products based on UK Met Office Data.

Digital Billboard attached to building

Source: marcommnews.com

Use Proximity Triggers and Event-Based Messaging to Serve Hyper-Relevant Ads

Programmatic DOOH allows digital billboard ads to be triggered by both target audiences being in the proximity of specific digital signs and after specific real-world events. If you’ve ever seen a drinks ad pop up in a sports stadium after a score, that’s this technology at work.

Due to its reliance on automated bidding, pDOOH is also a powerful tool for launching fast, reactive campaigns based around major events.

For example, a 2021 programmatic DOOH campaign by new Daily Fantasy Sports app SuperDraft was designed to fill a shortfall of signups for its BIG GAME Superbowl fantasy contest. Using pDOOH to trigger ads in 20 different NFL markets – including the host city of Tampa – the ads capitalized on the excitement around the big game to drive last-minute awareness, app downloads and sign-ups for the contest. The DOOH ads were complemented by native mobile advertising, which sent users to a trackable landing page.

lottery digital billboard advertising

Source: thoughtleadership.ooa.org

The ads received 38.5M impressions in under three days, with $740,000 of extra revenue generated from the time the campaign launched.

Find the Right pDOOH Platform for You

A great pDOOH platform offers billboard locations across the country, direct links with media owners and real-time analytics for campaign optimization.

At The Neuron, we pride ourselves on our intuitive interface and single click processes, as well as our range of outdoor advertising inventory and our commitment to making DOOH accessible to small and medium sized businesses.

With real-time metrics including eCPM, number of playouts and campaign budget, The Neuron makes it easier than ever to optimize your out of home advertising whilst staying on top of your marketing budget.

Try The Neuron today