Programmatic Digital out of Home advertising offers businesses of all sizes the power to reach mass audiences. 

Spending on Digital out of Home advertising (DOOH) is on the up. 

According to recent research by eMarketer, DOOH ad spending increased by 1.6% in 2020 (even during a pandemic in which many people were confined indoors) and a significant 19.2% growth is expected in 2021, with growth continuing over 2022 and 2023.

DOOH programmatic ad spending 2019-2023

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Media buyers are fast waking up to the possibilities digital signage and display advertising offer.

The question, however, is how can buyers ensure their message is cutting through in an increasingly crowded field? 

If you want to harness the mass reach of digital OOH, you need to take a more data-driven and targeted approach than traditional OOH offers. Programmatic digital out of home advertising (programmatic DOOH) could be exactly what you’re looking for. 

But what is programmatic DOOH? What options are available? What advantages does programmatic DOOH offer to media buyers? 

Let’s take a look. 

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Programmatic DOOH: The Next Step in Digital OOH?

Starting at the top – what is programmatic Digital out of Home advertising? 

Programmatic DOOH isn’t so much a type of advertising as a way of buying it. 

Out of home advertising (OOH advertising) is becoming increasingly digitized (digital out of home – DOOH), with digital signage owned by companies like JCDecaux, Lamar, OutFront and Branded Cities being a common sight across town and city centers. 

In the past, buying ad space on these billboards was a long, time-heavy process with lots of middlemen. Another issue has been the relative lack of metrics companies can use to track campaign success. 

In an increasingly data-driven marketing landscape, this has proved a stumbling block for many.  

Programmatic DOOH solves these challenges. 

Put simply, programmatic DOOH (pDOOH) is the automated buying, selling and delivery of DOOH advertising on digital billboards and other signage. Using a purpose-built online pDOOH platform, buyers set specific conditions (such as how, when and where they want their ads to appear) for how they want to buy media – and when those conditions are met, ad space is purchased and delivered automatically. 

Conditions typically include things like: 

  • Specific days and times
  • Footfall data
  • Weather conditions

Programmatic DOOH is very similar to how online advertising is bought and sold. You bid on ad space in advance and your message or advertisement is displayed automatically when those conditions can be met. 

This means that as well as saving time versus traditional media buying processes, you can take a more targeted approach to publicly displayed advertising. You can reach the audiences most likely to buy and can track and optimize your campaigns using actionable insights derived from real-world data.  

Programmatic DOOH Buying: What Are the Options?

There are three main ways you can buy DOOH advertising using a programmatic approach.

1. Open real-time bidding

In open real-time bidding, a group of buyers automatically place bids on an open ad slot. The system then assigns the slot to the best bid and delivers the ad as specified.

The major advantage here is accessibility – you don’t need any prior relationship with the media owner to place a bid. On the other hand, this accessibility increases the competition for ad slots – exacerbated by the fact that DOOH networks usually only open up a portion of their ad space to programmatic buyers.  

2. Private deal real-time bidding

Similar to open real-time bidding, the difference being that rather than competing against the whole buying population for ad space, you’re bidding against a virtual “VIP room” of first-look buyers. 

Sometimes, media owners offer priority access to premium buyers, or to buyers with whom they have a good relationship. In other words, with private real-time bidding, you get first pass on programmatic DOOH inventory before the media owner releases it to general bidders. 

3. Programmatic guaranteed

In guaranteed programmatic deals, media buyers agree to buy any ad slots the seller offers that meet their stated criteria. 

Of the three options, this one is most akin to traditional direct ad sales. There are many benefits to carrying out the process programmatically, however. Automation eases workloads on marketers and media buyers and offers major campaign reporting benefits too.

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The Pros and Cons of Programmatic Advertising vs Direct Buying

The two major advantages programmatic advertising has over buying ad space directly are smart use of data and efficiency gains via automation. 

Programmatic is also often a more affordable way of buying DOOH compared to direct sales. 

It also scales exceptionally well as your campaign grows, or as you need to reach new markets. Particularly when compared to online equivalents, programmatic DOOH offers a favorable cost per thousand (CPM) and targets audiences whilst they are receptive. 

Eye-catching digital billboards, for example, get noticed because audiences are doing little else, whereas online ads are often seen as intrusive when people are trying to browse the web or engage with friends on social media.

The Challenges Programmatic DOOH Poses

The challenges and uncertainties around programmatic DOOH largely stem from the fact it’s a new medium and the industry surrounding it is relatively fragmented – although this is already changing – and rapidly.

You’ll need to be aware that practices for buying and selling programmatic DOOH vary from organization to organization. Metrics used differ from established online programmatic norms, so you may need to invest in education for your marketers and media buyers if you want to create a solid programmatic DOOH campaign strategy. 

Buying Dynamic Digital OOH: Finding the Right Partner

To get the most out of programmatic out of home digital advertising, you need a platform that is flexible, easy to use and transparent. 

At The Neuron, we’re committed to making digital display advertising and other ad tech more accessible than ever before. 

Our platform lets you connect directly with media owners so you can find the perfect inventory to suit your campaign and it provides you with easy-to-use analytics tools to track your success, gain insights and optimize your efforts. 

Get in touch today to realize the power of mass out of home advertising and free your marketers from resource-heavy, traditional ad buying processes.