The Axon

How to Solve the Missing Link in Programmatic Buying.

January 2022

There are many good reasons to buy programmatic DOOH these days. Using the state-of-the-art technology that is readily available through our devices, buyers now have quick access to serve up targeted display advertising to the right audiences, in the right targeted location(s), at an efficient price. Sounds, easy, right? Great numbers, usually verified through third party vendors, running within 24 hours of purchase time. Use a credit card, pay for it in advance. Bypass speaking to anyone or seeing the actual product in person. Run for a day, a week or a month. Your call. 

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However, there’s one missing link. Dig deeper and you’ll find that one key component of programmatic DOOH protocol is absent: a standardized billboard Visibility Adjustment Index (VAI).

With all these impressions you’re buying, meaning the human eyeballs you’re paying to reach or see your ad, is anything acting as a disruptor from a clean line of sight of the billboards you’ve chosen? Like a wall that was just installed, a column that you don’t see in photos, or the angle makes it seem like the display is at eye level but in reality, it’s four feet above you.

Yet, when you plan on a programmatic DOOH, half of these screens could have some obstruction issue, similar to roadside OOH. No two roadside units are quite alike. They may face the same way, be on the same road, and are of the same size, but one of them is more visible than the other. 

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In some cases, on the same stretch of board the locations could be very close, but one unit may be well further off the road, and way high, or way low. In that case, even though the audited impression numbers are close, the complete viewability of that unit might be hindered. In fact, you may miss it all together. 

When that happens in a non-programmatic setting, there’s time to move the less desirable location. But in programmatic, you are buying by impressions and efficiency, there’s no visual verification that each screen has the same read, good or bad. And when some screens have “viewability” issues then is the buyer receiving his true impressions? Do the bonus flips/views that are usually a part of such buys make up the difference or do those also have some obstruction issues. 

This begs the question all buyers need to be asking. “If you had to rate this display, 1 to 10 on overall viewability, what would it be?” You probably wouldn’t get a very concise and accurate answer. In fact, it would be a complete guesstimate. 

There is no “Visibility Adjustment Index” that the buyer can use to ensure their ads are displayed in a clean, unobstructed manner. 

We thus propose that our industry instill a unified measurement index, call it “Visibility Adjustment Index”, or simply “VAI”. 

Using an array of Artificial Intelligence (AI) measurements to collect sightlines, OTS (opportunity to see), distances, dwell time, lighting, angles of the screens, screen sizes and even if there’s sound, having such an index, which in no way challenges the metrics used for impressions, gives buyers and clients more certainty that their ad is being seen. 

Such a visibility index is not here to compete with audited impression numbers, it’s just the opposite. It’s here to enhance them and be a further explanation and confirmation on what those numbers mean. Maybe part of the programmatic settings is you want all your displays to be a “7”?  That’s pretty good, so you will pay an appropriate CPM. Want all to be “10’s” on the VAI, then that CPM jumped to accommodate that request. It’s all part of filling the needs of the buy and making programmatic DOOH that much more effective.

Chances are, with this visibility index, DOOH buying agencies and even OOH sellers that rely on programmatic DOOH for new business will see an increase in overall sales. Clients want efficiency and good rates, yes, but they also want non-obstructed viewability of their ad . 

Having such an available feature as a VAI does just that. The goal of DOOH is to work for the client, be seen, and thus acted upon. Why not give their digital ad copy the best chance to do that? Who knows, they just may just buy more.

The AXON editorials are published every 3 weeks by the team at The Neuron who provide Agencies and SMBs with a smarter way to add premium Programmatic DOOH inventory to your marketing plans.