The Digitisation of OOH: Q&A with Diederick Ubels, CEO, Sage+Archer

In association with Sage+Archer.

While innovation and digital transformation continues to flow within the advertising industry, this has perhaps been most dramatically seen in the out-of-home (OOH) segment, as it pivots from paper-based to programmatic-powered. In this exclusive Q&A, Diederick Ubels, CEO, Sage+Archer details how data can be used to maximise OOH opportunities, from both a creative and performance perspective.

What are the benefits of inventory digitisation and leveraging programmatic within out-of-home from a creative and brand-building perspective?

First and foremost, investments in digital screens and technology in OOH are making the medium accessible to a wider industry of buyers.

Digitised OOH inventory, with the automation of programmatic, brings both flexibility and efficiency of activation and the opportunity for brands and buyers to easily layer in advanced targeting, such as time, location, data, triggers, or footfall.

With digitised OOH inventory we can leverage the dynamic element of time. Per hour, even per minute, you can decide whether to buy that screen. You do not have to be present on a screen for a whole week or even two, unlike when advertising using a traditional poster. This dynamic allows us to be more specific in deciding when and where to activate campaigns. The programmatic element makes buying multiple moments on specific locations possible. This allows marketers to ingest data on where and when to be present. For instance, mobile data that gives insights on where specific audiences can be found at what times. Or to activate campaigns based on specific triggers telling us something about the context around a location or screen. Weather triggers are frequently and effectively used, but you could also think about triggers based on traffic data, sports scores, pollen count, even flu infections and public transport times. 

What is really exciting in this space, is the ability to ingest data from clients themselves. For instance data sources that show availability of products or services at specific stores. We have a client that triggers campaigns around specific stores when there are available staff to service people, and more specifically, for key services where appointments are available.

Programmatic infrastructure now also allows marketers to leverage these data points to inform their creative content. For instance, localising to the vicinity of the screen, as simply as showing the name of the neighbourhood in the ad to capture attention and increase relevance to the consumer. Other examples are to promote the nearest store location to the screen, or show the actual weather or weather forecast for that local area. From multiple studies we have conducted, we see making ads relevant to the consumer environment, and their context, heightens the attention they get and truly enhances the effectiveness of the campaign. Being relevant with targeting and creative works.

Diederick Ubels, CEO, Sage+Archer

How can digital out-of-home be effectively leveraged alongside mobile from a performance perspective? What privacy considerations, if any, need to be accounted for here?

Research shows how successful DOOH has been for performance campaigns as well as brand building, particularly when used in tandem with mobile. As a historical mobile business, we started with campaigns measuring the impact DOOH could have on app install campaigns. We have run campaigns on locations where we combined mobile and DOOH and compared that to locations where we would target a similar audience but only with mobile advertising. The combination of DOOH and mobile brought a staggering 50% incremental uptick in new installs and actual users.

We have seen similar results when we measure what DOOH does to drive footfall. Displaying DOOH ads within the vicinity of stores significantly increases the number of store visitors, where mobile location data panels have served as a measurement tool to figure out how many new visitors came into the stores that we know had the chance to see the DOOH ads.

We have barely scratched the surface when it comes to performance measurement and implementing this into campaign optimisations. As we improve the volume and frequency of data points, and push to process in real time, we can really start to understand and leverage the flexibility and power of programmatic DOOH, and apply this to finding optimal performance with dynamic creative, the right message, the right vicinity, frequency and combination with mobile advertising. 

How can location-based data and analytics be applied in programmatic digital out-of-home? What benefits does this offer over traditional out-of-home inventory?

Out-of-home advertising has always been about understanding the location in which you show your ad. Who lives there, who passes by, what is the audience in terms of size and characteristics, but also what else is nearby? Programmatic offers nothing new to this, but the difference being we can now add time into the dynamic. This allows media owners to offer different audiences and datasets on certain locations at different times. A screen in a city centre has students on a night out passing by on Tuesday night; working socialites on a Thursday night, but professionals and business folk are passing by during morning and evening rush hour. Considering something as straightforward as time as a base target easily facilitates more specific context and audiences to be layered on top.

What is the role of technology partners in helping brand partners to capitalise on the new opportunities opened up by programmatic digital out-of-home?

Technology partners first and foremost need to ensure the infrastructure works seamlessly to create an experience that is operationally perfect. Tech can hold a tonne of promises, but if the basics do not work we cannot even start to think about further innovation in the space as we are just debugging. I feel sometimes tech partners forget this bit and go straight for the award winning use of the infrastructure. 

In some markets we have really gotten to a level where we can start building on top of this now near perfect plumbing and start educating brands and agencies to the next level.

The subsequent role of tech is to show what is possible and work on further connecting the various dots to create more possibilities for ingesting relevant data sources, scaling dynamic creative, and facilitating research methods to work towards understanding how to best leverage all these amazing tech elements. And I feel that this is the right order also, first make sure trading the channel actually works without any hiccups and is truly automated and therefore more efficient and transparent. Then use the tech to understand what works; what brings more effect, drives brand impact, sales, footfall etc.

As a marketplace technology we need to work on both, making sure the marketplace is functioning perfectly and then showcase and educate on the best practices we see in that marketplace.

Similarly, how can technology vendors work with publishers to ensure the availability of programmatic digital out-of-home inventory?

It all starts with media owners taking programmatic DOOH seriously as a means to sell their inventory. Programmatic selling is not a one dimensional yes/no principle. Programmatic offers many ways to sell, and that media owners should feel comfortable with. I think here again the tech plays two roles. Firstly making sure media owners can work with the tooling available and run campaigns seamlessly. Secondly, is to educate media owners in the ways they can use the infrastructure, and supporting their preferred method of offering inventory. We see lots of variations in the market. Some media owners bundle their inventory in city or channel-specific networks, then determine when they have room in that network to offer impressions programmatically. Others reserve half of their inventory for programmatic selling, but once they see their yield go up as a result of success with a programmatic test. 

Technology needs to partner with the media owner, support their business, but also give it the confidence to push the boundaries of what automation and programmatic can bring, and to develop the overall industry, ultimately to grow the brands that invest in it.