The Versatility of Programmatic OOH Advertising: An Overview of Use Cases

One of the earliest examples of a successful out-of-home advertising campaign is credited to Jared Bell, an event promoter best known for mass-producing large, colorful signs. His picturesque designs featuring acts performed by the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus grabbed the attention of large numbers of people in the 1830s. 

The first ads on horse-drawn street cars appeared in 1850, and by the 1860s, laws were enacted allowing companies to erect billboards of different sizes and experiment with their vantage points. While it would be well over a century before programmatic OOH advertising would become part of the conversation, the analytic component of this narrative is just as relevant today.

When Congress passed the Highway Beautification Act in 1965, many people expected the newly enacted regulations to bring the industry to its knees. Instead, advertisers adapted. Fast forward to 2023, and US billboard advertising is a thriving $8.3 billion industry embracing some of today’s most remarkable technological advances.

Although billboards equipped with data collection sensors and facial recognition technology offer numerous opportunities for advertisers, it’s the digital screens in elevators, airport terminals, and common areas capturing the attention of today’s out-of-home (OOH) audiences. The response to programmatic OOH screens is so positive that experts predict a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 11% between 2022 and 2032.

What Is Programmatic OOH Advertising?

In the not-so-distant past, ad agency representatives had to reach out to multiple publishers to get client content displayed on digital screens. There were numerous prices to negotiate, contracts to sign, and orders to place. 

As the landscape evolved, advertisers gained access to multiple publishers with a single contract through digital spaces known as ad exchanges. Although ad exchanges made bidding on available space more efficient, ad agencies had little control over where or when their bulk-purchased ads were shown.

As technology advanced, so did the number of companies utilizing complex algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to automate purchasing and placement “decisions” with “programmatic” advertising. If you’re currently using software to target key demographics, you know firsthand how hyper-specific ad placement benefits your clients. You also understand how difficult it can be to overcome the challenges of selective attention, “banner blindness,” and internet ad fatigue.

Related: Comscore and Captivate Make the Case for Incremental Ad Spend in DOOH

The average American spends about 40% of their time engaged with their personal screens. Most are exposed to anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 ads in a single day. Although market analysts expect a digital ad spend increase above 13% in 2023, only about 4% of behavior-generated ads get more than 2 seconds of viewer attention—assuming they register at all. But programmatic ad placement in out-of-home spaces, paired with valuable content, is most often perceived as a benefit or service, not an intrusion. 

How Are Programmatic OOH Networks Engaging Consumers?

Today’s ad-weary internet users scroll right past sponsored content that doesn’t connect with their most immediate interests or concerns. More than 42% install ad-blocking software on their computers, tablets, and smartphones to avoid annoying interruptions, preserve battery life, and protect their privacy. 

Adding a programmatic OOH network provider partnership to your digital portfolio helps ensure your clients are getting the best return on their investment by prioritizing impression quality over placement quantity. Your clients have ample opportunity to capture the attention of increasingly elusive audiences because their ads are displayed at a time and place their high-value target audiences are most likely to be receptive. But not all providers offer the same type of service. 

Some offer a network of LED screens that rotate through a series of full-screen ads in a continuous loop, a format consumers will likely tune out. The most captivating screens display hyper-targeted, contextually relevant ads alongside the type of content consumers (and advertisers) genuinely appreciate. 

It’s a concept so popular with business professionals and corporate decision-makers that many residential and commercial property owners feature their digital out-of-home screens as high-value amenities. Now that you know why so many advertisers are taking their digital content to out-of-home spaces, imagine how much your clients will appreciate the option of increasing brand awareness and consumer engagement in a way that even the most ad-weary internet users find too compelling to ignore.

Brand-Safe News Feeds & Current Weather Updates Displayed on Elevator Screens

The average elevator ride, according to Nielsen research, is 76 seconds, and the average rider enters the lift four times each day. That’s plenty of time for most people to catch up on the latest news and weather reports. Studies show that national news often draws a larger television audience. Ads placed alongside local news and human interest stories foster a sense of community. With so many plans made and revised based on weather-related concerns, client content displayed alongside live weather reports and real-time transit updates are also destined to reach a receptive audience as they travel between floors.

Well-Timed Financial News & Stock Market Reports Displayed in Office Buildings

Financial news and stock market reports appeal to consumers interested in the latest information about corporate mergers, interest rates, and the economy. The opportunity to place B2B ads alongside this type of content could be of significant interest to any banks, investment companies, tech brands, small business, and more. With the right network provider, your client’s ads will be displayed alongside the latest market indices, business news, and financial advice on screens displayed in prime locations and timed to engage notoriously elusive professional audiences as they make their way to the office, wait for appointments, or return home for the day.

High-Value Sports, Health, & Entertainment News in Common Areas

On most programmatic OOH networks, advertisers provide client ad creatives, set a marketing budget, and choose placement frequency. Their DSP then determines which screen locations will provide the best exposure to the right people, at the right time, alongside the most appropriate content. Sports highlights, entertainment news, and health information are ideal for display in common areas when target audiences are winding down, heading out to the gym, or making their way home for the day. 

The best service providers leverage automation technology to “follow” recently engaged viewers across multiple devices with a combination of geolocation and online activity data. As an advertiser, you’ll know who is engaging with your client’s ads, which screens are generating the most attention, and where you may want to take further advantage of the versatility programmatic OOH marketing provides.

How the Versatility of Programmatic OOH Is Elevating Consumer Engagement

Partnering with a programmatic OOH network provider is a mutually beneficial arrangement and offers end users—your target audience—modern technology they expect. If you choose wisely, for example, you could have everything you need to embed client ads with scannable QR codes. It’s a feature you can use to capture the attention of even the most elusive customers, with instant access to product information, claim codes, contests, consumer surveys, and more.

Related: Ad Age Webcast: Behind The Screens – Marketer Perceptions Vs. Reality

You could also have user-friendly tools to monitor your ad campaigns and at least one digital advertising solution left unimpacted by the imminent demise of the “cookie trails” so many of your competitors still rely on to build consumer profiles, analyze behavior, and personalize user experiences.

Now that you know why so many agencies are adding the benefits of programmatic OOH advertising to their digital toolbox, you may also want to consider how its versatility could help amplify the impact of your next ad campaign. The following examples illustrate the power of using OOH and clever marketing strategies to boost brand awareness, encourage consumer interaction, and generate enthusiasm for products and services.

Holiday-Themed OOH Dessert Campaigns – London  

An award-winning premium dessert brand launched a Valentine’s Day-themed OOH campaign urging consumers to submit a cheeky yet romantic message that included the brand’s name. The best submissions were displayed on a large digital screen at Waterloo Station. In 2020, the brand announced a similar three-day promotion, publishing “best-in-class” tweets after asking consumers to replace the “you” in their favorite song lyrics with their (rhyming) brand name. The interactive social media campaign was part of a larger digital and OOH campaign promoting a limited edition Valentine’s Day cheesecake packaging refresh.

Weather-Driven OOH Promotional Campaigns – United Kingdom

An American multinational e-commerce company based in San Jose, California, ran a weather-driven advertising campaign. Brand messaging changed according to local weather conditions. On rainy (or cloudy) days, passersby were shown ads promoting rain gear. Consumers saw digital ads for gardening tools on sunny days. The text and color palette matched the perceived consumer mood based on current weather conditions. A similar UK campaign by a prominent U.S. fast food chain promoted refreshingly cold beverages in temperatures above 22°C (76.1°F). Temperatures above 25°C prompted a display update with the city’s name and current temperature.

High-Profile User-Generated OOH Beauty Campaign – New York City

A prominent US retailer ran a campaign intended to call attention to the unrealistic standards perpetuated by the cosmetic industry. Consumers were encouraged to upload an unedited selfie to #BeautyUnaltered. Event organizers displayed the consumer-submitted content in ten-second intervals on a large, prominent, high-profile screen. The company successfully paired a solid advertising campaign with dynamic imagery to promote a positive self-image. The brand generated over 3.6 billion impressions, and a live feed on a social media platform allowed people nationwide to view their selfies in real time.

Awareness-Boosting OOH Campaign – United States

A prominent company offering in-person and online payment processing and centralized business management solutions needed an effective way to boost brand awareness within the health and wellness industry. During a 9-week OOH campaign targeting screens in buildings in doctor’s offices and healthcare facilities, brand familiarity increased by 111%. Brand consideration increased by an impressive 66%. A post-promotion campaign survey targeting panelists in key locations compared the responses of medical professionals who reported recalling the ads versus those who did not.

Get Started with the Right Programmatic OOH Network Provider

With the anticipated growth of programmatic OOH, you’re sure to find numerous companies offering advertiser access to place-based advertising screens. But not all service providers have what it takes to capture the attention of today’s consumers. Of the approximately 70% of survey respondents who report receiving mistargeted ads at least once each month, more than half feel the targeting error negatively affects brand perception.

At Captivate, we’ve partnered with more than 150 content partners to provide the information viewers want alongside relevant ads they respond to. Our vast network distribution gives you and your clients unrivaled access to high-value audiences where they work and live. Our relationship with measurement & attribution providers ensures your ability to track the performance of each campaign.

To see how your agency can benefit from the services of an industry-leading digital media company offering advertising in one of the fastest-growing sectors of ad technology, visit Captivate and learn more about our vast network of digital screens and expertly curated content. Our tailored solutions include brand-safe, relevant formatting, editorial alignment, gamification, and access to thousands of screens in 37 active markets. Let’s get started!

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