“Programmatic” has become quite the buzzword in online digital marketing over the past seven years. Like many such overused terms it can have multiple meanings and a variety of interpretations based on where you sit in the marketing value chain. Two core concepts that apply to the buying and selling of media -- automation and data -- can be game changers for buyers and sellers. More importantly, they apply to the out of home (OOH) space just as much as they apply to the online ad space.
To a buyer, automation might mean removing the duplicated entry of campaign details by having software that is able to communicate with buying, selling and billing systems across multiple parties. Data-driven decision making might mean leveraging a first-party data asset within an agency holding company to make better decisions during the media planning process.
To a seller, automation might be leveraging technology like an ad server to ingest business rules from a contract instead of building out complex charting, scheduling and playlists to deliver a client’s campaign requirements. Sensors can collect consumer location data to change the price of ad space at different hours of the day, enabling sellers to further optimize yield on their inventory
Based on the facts above, let’s think through a few of the myths floating around about how programmatic applies to the OOH space.
Myth: “OOH is not ready for programmatic.”
Not only is this a broad and incorrect statement, but one that’s the equivalent of saying we aren’t ready to evolve as an industry. The systems to enable all aspects of automated and data-driven media transactions in OOH exist, they just need to be appropriately leveraged.
Myth: “I have to completely overhaul all of my systems to support programmatic.”
It is true that the majority of buyers and sellers are using fairly antiquated technology to run their businesses. However, there are many steps a company can take to incrementally get the business to a technology advanced position in the market. Most technology vendors have a variety of solutions that assist in this incremental process.
Myth: “Programmatic is just too new. I’m going to wait a bit to see what happens.”
I personally have been enabling buyers and sellers to transact media programmatically in OOH since 2012. The early days were absolutely a learning period; however, today we have proven technology that can be scaled to support programmatic sales and operations across any buyer and seller in the space. By waiting, companies remain in the minority of media investment that is inefficient and lacking in measurement.
Myth: “OOH doesn’t get the respect it deserves in the media landscape. Is programmatic really going to help it?”
There are two areas that benefit here. First, more automated systems simply allow OOH to be purchased with less back and forth. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, ease of purchase is one of the big issues both buyers and sellers express in member survey feedback. Second, the OOH industry must speak the same language to access new budgets, like mobile, and have systems that are compatible with the growth of data-driven behavioral media buying. The $8.4 billion location-based subset of mobile ad spend is an especially promising area for programmatic OOH, according to data from BIA/Kelsey.
OOH is evolving into one of most advanced and measureable forms of media buying for advertisers, driven by innovations in technology and data. We are already seeing a plethora of diverse data providers looking to bring unique solutions to the OOH space. However, to leverage this explosion of data sets, buyers and sellers must have proper technology systems in place to analyze this data, activate media against these insights and show ROI on media dollars. The race for advertising technology in OOH started a few years ago. Where are you in the pack?
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