IAB Member Q&A: Programmatic Digital Out of Home

On July 22, 2020 Research & Resources

Programmatic Digital Out of Home Member Q&A

Although digitisation of OOH screens and related revenue now represents the majority of the out of home industry, programmatic trading of this inventory is only now becoming more common. Members of our DOOH Taskforce share their insights and advice on the development and adoption of programmatic DOOH trading. Thanks to Broadsign, Shopper Media Group, MediaMath, Verizon Media, Tonic Health Media, Vistar Media & IAS for their contributions


Ben Allman, Sales Director APAC, Broadsign

What advantages (or disadvantages) are there for agencies and advertisers using programmatic to trade DOOH inventory versus traditional insertion orders?

The benefits to buyers of transacting programmatically have arguably never been so pronounced. In an era where many are under increasing pressure to do more with less, programmatic technology brings a lot to the table in terms of its ability to turbocharge the planning, buying, measurement and reporting of campaigns. 

Programmatic technology enables buyers to be more nimble by stopping, starting or even optimising their campaigns at a moment’s notice. At a time where audience behaviours are changing almost daily amidst constant revisions to Government policy, the importance of agility cannot be underestimated. 

Programmatic also enables a more targeted approach by allowing buyers to focus on the locations, audiences and moments which are most important to them. Furthermore, it enables this at scale and based on a potentially unlimited number of data triggers. For example, McDonald’s may wish to promote their McCafe menu items on screens closest to the nearest drive-thru but only on weekday mornings when the weather’s poor and the traffic is heavy. A campaign such as this couldn’t be executed directly, as McDonald’s would have no way of knowing where and when it should run ahead of time.

Having often been planned, bought and sold in a somewhat siloed fashion, programmatic technology also brings DOOH into the omni-channel world. By doing so, buyers can add DOOH to their online & mobile campaigns with ease, while benefiting from DOOH’s well-documented abilities in boosting the ROI of other mediums.

Finally, programmatic DOOH enables agencies and advertisers to plan and buy the medium more efficiently. With many teams and organisations running leaner than ever before, it’s imperative to look at how every aspect of business can be done more efficiently. OOH is a notoriously finicky medium to plan & buy directly and through the use of programmatic technology, much of the manual work involved can be automated across multiple publishers.  

What do you see as the priorities locally for the development of a healthy, sustainable and diverse pDOOH market?

In 2019, PwC released a report in partnership with the iab titled “Growing Programmatic DOOH: Opportunities and Challenges”. The report was one of the first of its kind in the space and looked at the challenges and opportunities facing programmatic DOOH across a few key markets. The overwhelming factor identified by respondents (made up of agencies, tech and publishers) as a key driver in future growth was education.

If programmatic DOOH is to start living up to its potential, the importance of education cannot be underestimated. All parties involved (advertisers/agencies, publishers and tech) need to have a clear and consistent understanding of how programmatic DOOH works, where it makes most sense to transact programmatically, who are the different players/parties involved and exactly what do they bring to the table. 

The report also identified a lack of standardisation of data as a key inhibitor to the growth of programmatic DOOH. I personally don’t see the standardisation of data being a prerequisite to the growth of programmatic DOOH. OOH/DOOH is an incredibly diverse and nuanced medium, whereby no two screens are alike.

Audiences move very differently in their cars on a freeway to how they would move on foot through an airport and different audience measurement solutions are required as a result. This is a key difference between programmatic DOOH and online programmatic and buyers should be aware of and understand the data sets being used to measure the audiences they’re buying against. This comes back to education. 

Finally, it’s important that we understand the role of programmatic DOOH and we’re not just transacting programmatically for the sake of it. If an advertiser wants to buy a handful of screens for a predetermined period of time, then it may make more sense to do it directly; but if that same advertiser wants their campaign to only be activated when certain external conditions are met (for example, weather & traffic conditions and petrol prices), that’s where programmatic technology can add a great deal of value by doing a lot of the heavy lifting.   


Laura Wall, Head of Programmatic, Shopper Media Group

How should agencies and marketers be thinking about the role of programmatic DOOH in their channel planning?

 At a channel planning level, the introduction of programmatic buying to DOOH means that DOOH can now deliver on more strategic objectives than ever before. A client buy can now be made on a single play basis, at a specific time of day/week, powered by many data sources and managed by the technology at scale.

Previously, OOH buys were confined to certain parameters, usually defined by the media owner. In the programmatic ecosystem, these parameters have opened and can now be defined by the buyer and the technology, across all media providers seamlessly. pDOOH is still in its infancy, but unlike other programmatic channels it has not been born out of a need to chase consumers who have changed their consumption habits, resulting in a continually fragmented audience. Instead, pDOOH is a data amplification play as the audience continues about their usual routines, which creates an opportunity to be the first medium to launch programmatic as a premium buy, completely data focused.

Currently pDOOH can work as an additional layer to current OOH buys, as well as a stand-alone OOH channel amongst other digital media buys, creating a more targeted experience for the consumer. For clients that already use OOH as a broadcast media, pDOOH now allows a more tactical layer of DOOH into their channel plans, so it is not just delivering to a brand or proximity message. pDOOH can now be in sync with other digital channels delivering to the same specific audiences, and their strategic reason for being on the channel plan in the first place.

For new entrants to OOH, it is a chance to expand their audience buy using data they already have, or creating data pools within the technology platforms to buy the powerful one-to-many medium of DOOH, delivering on their business outcomes and in-line with the way they are using other channels within their marketing mix.


Yun Yip, VP & Country Manager, MediaMath

What advantages (or disadvantages) are there for agencies and advertisers using programmatic to trade DOOH inventory versus traditional insertion orders?

As with the older screen siblings that can be traded programmatically, the positive implications around flexibility, efficiency and targeting also apply to programmatic DOOH (pDOOH). 

Let’s look at flexibility as the first point of opportunity. pDOOH has opened up OOH for brands who were not able to dip their toes due to minimum spends. New verticals / brands are not the only benefactors of automation and machine learning, the OOH and programmatic players win too. The need and advantage of flexibility is further exacerbated all through our interesting COVID times. Not only were our customers able to optimise on parameters such as location, footfall, sites etc., they were able to retain marketing activity by upweighting towards other screens such as CTV and desktop to reflect a more relevant consumer habit – all within the one platform.

With pDOOH, brands can also have the ease of using a single platform to connect ‘brand’ and ‘performance’ outcomes – making all channels work more effectively and harmoniously. The efficiency gained through a single point of access to all channels, as the elimination of the need for an IO / negotiation, through an already challenging 2020 have been welcomed by both agencies and brands. 

We can’t discuss a topic around advantages of programmatic trading (of any screen) without considering the use of data and attribution. pDOOH does open up the ability for a data driven approach to out of home. As an example, apart from overlaying 1/ 2nd/ 3rd party data sources when selecting location / sites, brands can also now ingest device IDs plus transaction data for footfall attribution and sales uplift analysis. We have also seen how DOOH and mobile, as an example, can drive 2x higher footfall to a Health Club client of ours, compared to single channel activation.

As pDOOH is also an ‘emerging’ channel, the industry is working through some growing pains. Scale and availability of formats and creatives can still be limited. In addition, OOH being a one to many medium does have its challenge around measurement as it runs on non-personal devices. One can also argue that the standardisation of measurement transaction currency (eg. Impression multiplier) is an area of challenge as well as opportunity.


Andrew Gilbert, Head of Platform Sales, Verizon Media

 What advantages (or disadvantages) are there for agencies and advertisers using programmatic to trade DOOH inventory versus traditional insertion orders?

There are significant advantages of running DOOH advertising through a programmatic platform. These benefits sit primarily within the space of agility, efficiency, measurement, and deeper connection into true omni-channel marketing delivery. 

In our current environment, a marketer’s need for ROI based marketing activation, feeds perfectly into the programmatic DOOH proposition through the ability to be faster and more flexible in its delivery. This faster and flexible piece speaks to not just the speed to market, or ability to adapt and change creative at scale, but also the contractual basis of how DOOH advertising has been traditionally run through many direct IO contracts with less movement on time and cost. 

From a measurement point of view; increase in transparency on delivery within a platform, ability to tie in-store footfall and website traffic lift back to campaign exposure, help drive the much needed data proposition behind this burgeoning activation format.

Omnichannel marketing is only as strong as the data and connectedness of the platforms that deliver it. This too is the case when tying DOOH into larger programmatic omnichannel delivery where the location data partners you use, and the core identity graph behind the platform are key to delivery, and measurement. Some really strong examples of this are the ability to tie DOOH exposures within the larger campaign exposure frequency, but also re-engagement strategies across other media channels such as Mobile In-App, Native, Audio and Connected TV to help build brand depth of awareness and ad recall. Core to this delivery, is maintaining the consumer experience and quality creative messaging.

pDOOH is providing more granular targeting and scheduling, and with it potential scrutiny on CPMs based on audience measurement. Media owners are utilising multiple SSPs that can potentially have different ways to process the impression multiplier. Not a disadvantage, but for Media Owners to be transparent about how they power their audience multiplier with each given Supply-side platform.

What do you see as the priorities locally for the development of a healthy, sustainable and diverse pDOOH market?

Verizon Media and our supply partners have been delivering significant education on this piece over the last 12 to 18 months with all of our agency and brand partners. We believe that the priorities lie in four key areas:

  1. Education and understanding.

Depending on the style of agency or brand operation, our conversations and education pieces range significantly. On one side, offline investment stakeholders have approached it in the same manner of 15 years ago when digital advertising was becoming a significant trend, with a belief that the digital part of their business was taking their investment. On the other side, less siloed operations have seen it as a new delivery capability within their larger integrated marketing communications.

The key thing to understand here, is in the world that we now operate in, it isn’t about who owns the budget. It’s about how the media is activated, and how that activation style drives value and ROI.  Through programmatic DOOH delivery, all parties see an increase in value and marketing ROI based on agility, efficiency and measurement as mentioned earlier.

The impression multiplier is important for agency resources to understand how each media owner use data to calculate this. Knowing it’s not perfect and that the goal is to eventually have a standard currency for audience measurement in time, but the key is to the understanding how this compares to traditional OOH will help make this clear. 

  1. Commitment to technological innovation.

The nature of our current environment, whilst significantly challenging for the OOH sector, enables major DOOH providers to put in place all of the key infrastructure and operational practices that will enable programmatic delivery to scale faster when coming out of COVID-19 and into the upcoming recession. We have the ability behind closed doors to drive DOOH technology installation, advance changes in the supply chain, increase advanced measurement styles, and drive home marketers eagerness to innovate with this activation format before consumers return to their natural behaviour over the next six months.

  1. Understanding new consumer mobility trends

The implementation of major environment changes like what we are seeing has had a drastic effect on consumer mobility. The shift in behaviour is most likely going to change the way OOH advertisers need to approach their investment going forward and the key thing underpinning that is access to data to inform that investment going forward. 

If we look at the early weeks of COVID-19, consumer mobility was heavily down, however certain physical locations saw significant uplift in foot traffic such as petrol stations, shopping centres and medical facilities. A position was taken by the whole industry that OOH investment could not work, when in fact, depending on the brand, it could have been optimised towards these high lift locations. Through access to near real time mobility data, and programmatic platforms that drive investment agility, some brands could have seized the opportunity.

This mobility data we are speaking of, is a major opportunity for brands and agencies to help inform agile DOOH investment decisions long term, due to the fractured nature of our environment, and is key to a healthy, sustainable and diverse marketplace going forward.

  1. Less fragmentation with Media Owners Supply technology.

Media owners should limit the number of Supply technologies adopted unless true value can be garnered from each. There’s no headerbidding advantages for DOOH adserving to use multiple Supply-side platforms. Keeping supply exclusive and concentrated allows for efficient and streamlined supply management, whilst keeping things simple for demand on where and how to buy particular media.


Pam Phelan, Head of Sales – Digital, Tonic Health Media

What data sources are currently being used to help with targeting and campaign management?

 Tonic Health Media are leaders in the health and wellbeing sector. Our data sources represent the Australian market and are directly from national government sources such as Medicare and ABS Census data. Being able to tap into this data source allows for more robust and credible information and insights about our audience. 

Our digital out of home assets are place-based within GP waiting rooms and at point of purchase in pharmacies.  In GP waiting rooms, we utilise behavourial Medicare Data, ABS Census data, BEACH data and our own In-Practice surveys (conducted for 5 years). Across Pharmacies, we utilise data from The Pharmacy Guild of Australia data, Nielsen CMV, and our own in-practice survey data.  

We use GeoTribes to carry out sophisticated geo-targeting which allows us to executive campaigns to the right audience.  

The credibility of our data sources allows us to accurately determine our audience traffic and behaviour. We believe that transparency is the most important factor in the development of a thriving pDOOH ecosystem.

What do you see as the priorities locally for the development of a healthy, sustainable and diverse pDOOH market?

Locally we would like to see serious adoption of pDOOH by all OOH publishers. This will allow a healthy and diverse eco-system for marketers, with supply and demand. 

Buying programmatically offers a host of benefits. It reduces barriers and allows frictionless trading, brings democracy and speed to market, context and importantly transparency to marketers.  

By leveraging our digital assets and data capabilities we can fully utilise automated trading across our network.


Ben Baker, Sales Director ANZ, Vistar Media

How would you describe the current state of programmatic DOOH in Australia?

Programmatic DOOH is very much in its growth stage, not only in Australia but globally. There can be no denying that COVID-19 has had a big impact on both OOH and pDOOH in the last few months, though throughout this time more media owners and buyers have entered the space. We anticipate that the next 6 months will see adoption of programmatic by all OOH media providers in market, and a rapid uptick in budget shifting from display and mobile into programmatic OOH campaigns.

How should agencies and marketers be thinking about the role of programmatic DOOH in their channel planning?

 The role of programmatic DOOH primarily delivers 3 functions for marketers:

  1. Data-Driven Audience Targeting: Plan off POI, 1st or 3rd party data and even build custom behavioural audiences. This is especially relevant for omni-channel marketers, looking to extend the audience segments and targeting strategies they are already using across other channels into OOH.
  2. Automation & Flexibility: Build and activate campaigns in minutes, with the flexibility to move, pause or even cancel budgets instantly. Remove complicated manual workflows around creative approval and reporting.
  3. Measurement: Conduct Brand and Footfall studies across your holistic OOH activity.

What data sources are currently being used to help with targeting and campaign management?

 Vistar utilises anonymised SDK-based GPS location data to understand where consumers go, how they spend their time and which paths they take. Our technology then smartly activates media when and where consumers are most likely to be throughout the day, and measures results based on campaign exposure.

Vistar is data agnostic, meaning that we are not isolated to one data source or another for how we build our audiences. Vistar’s third-party targeting and audience solutions are built in conjunction with our various data partners. We partner with several of the industry’s top data providers, such as Factual, WEATHERfx, Foursquare and more, in order to extend brands’ existing audience strategies into DOOH. Further, Vistar can link our location data to a client’s 1st-party data, to reach their desired audience in the physical world.

What advantages (or disadvantages) are there for agencies and advertisers using programmatic to trade DOOH inventory versus traditional insertion orders?

 It’s important to note that programmatic isn’t to be seen as a replacement for traditional insertion orders. The two very much complement each other and support the overall growth of the OOH category. Programmatic OOH, however, enables the use of data for audience targeting, automation and advanced measurement capabilities. Programmatic DOOH also delivers flexibility that traditional OOH doesn’t allow for. To name a few advantages, marketers can get their campaigns up and running in just a few hours, deploy relevant creative messaging based on changing conditions, and easily shift their budgets as needed.

Are there any overseas markets that you have seen doing a good job of developing their programmatic DOOH industry?

Adoption of programmatic OOH is scaling globally, but taking on different forms depending on the market. In Canada, Vistar now has access to the entire DOOH media landscape, meaning the industry now has a truly consolidated means for buyers to purchase programmatically at scale. The Canadian approach to programmatic has focused largely on self-service buying. In the UK, data restrictions presented initial challenges, but programmatic OOH has started to gain some traction now that those hurdles have been overcome.

The U.S. market is the most mature in terms of programmatic OOH adoption. The focus in the U.S. currently is around sophisticated application of data to inform the strategy of campaigns and in refining measurement solutions to tie real-world results to actual DOOH exposure.

What do you see as the priorities locally for the development of a healthy, sustainable and diverse pDOOH market?

 There has been great progress to date locally for pDOOH as a category with the majority of the demand and supply sides engaging in the space to some capacity. I am confident that we will make significant advancements in the market over the next 6 months. For pDOOH to fully reach its potential however and bring significant incremental dollars to the category locally we would see the priorities being all media owners making their inventory available and some level of agreeance on audience measurement across the board.


Jessica Miles, Country Manager, Integral Ad Science

 What do you see as the priorities locally for the development of a healthy, sustainable and diverse pDOOH market?

Measurement in the out of home industry is still in its infancy and a number of industry changes will be required in the coming years to provide a complete measurement solution that is globally standardised, largely automated from a deployment and reporting perspective and capable of dealing with the challenges that programmatic DOOH will bring.

With the advent of digital in out of home, understanding the total value a digital campaign can be a challenge especially when investing in DOOH alongside multiple or digital channels

This is where advertisers and media buyers need verification and transparency to help solve three specific challenges:

  1. Gain transparency into the different channels: For example; DOOH, Social and Digital Display
  2. Leverage a consistent metric that is comparable and measurable across all three channels.
  3. Understand the unique value each channel drives in order to better optimise in future campaigns.

The measurement approach that should be used in the DOOH process, needs to be the same as what is used across online display, video, social, and connected TV (OTT). As a result of this standardised measurement approach, it will enable brands and agencies to perform cross channel verification and optimisation.

The conversation around verifying digital out of home, in similar ways to how we verify digital online began a couple of years ago and since then we’ve seen increasing requests for the verification of digital plays. With no widespread adoption of a third-party ad server and the foray into programmatic, verification becomes even more paramount as a source of truth and transparency. Leveraging third-party measurement, coupled with the important ability to compare data across online and DOOH, will give advertisers and media buyers the confidence they need to ramp up investment in DOOH and embrace its programmatic future.

What data sources are currently being used to help with targeting and campaign management?

A key component of campaign management now and into the future is verification as it will enable advertisers to invest in quality DOOH inventory. The dynamic and contextual nature of DOOH increases the possibility of incorrect ad delivery which makes third-party verification critical to the success of the medium.

The digitisation of out of home enables media buyers to apply a range of targeting options such as contextual, day-parting and geo-targeting to drive further relevancy with their audience.  Along with this digitisation is the requirement for increased transparency, to ensure that media buyers and advertisers can track their investment. It’s no longer as simple as driving past the OOH panel the media buyer funded… you can’t always “see” digital.

Third-party verification can help provide detailed data on campaign parameters, such as;

  • Was delivery reflective of what was bought?
  • Did the contextual ads run in the right geography?
  • How many times did the ads run?
  • Did the ads run at the right time?
  • Did the ads run for the duration it was booked for?

Having a third party, focused on verifying and measuring these specifics will become key to DOOH campaign management.