Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

OOH Goes Programmatic

Published in May-Jun 2023

Programmatic DOOH will be a game-changer for advertisers, writes Ahsan Sheikh.

John Wanamaker famously said, “Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” But fear not, a new era of precision targeting and innovation has arrived, promising to revolutionise the way we connect with audiences. Picture a world where every ad you create hits its mark with pinpoint accuracy, leaving a lasting impression on your target audience.

In today’s media landscape, generating media reach is simple but capturing attention amidst the relentless barrage of advertisements is the challenge. According to Zippia’s 2023 research, the average American is bombarded with 4,000 to 10,000 ads a day, making it increasingly difficult for an individual ad to stand out. This is why programmatic digital OOH holds the key to grabbing the attention of consumers with relevant and creative ads that demand recognition.

Step into the realm of digital OOH, one that has only recently emerged in Pakistan. It was in 2016 when Coca-Cola in a groundbreaking move sponsored the first-ever digital out-of-home (DOOH); fast forward to 2023, and there are over 2,500 DOOH screens scattered across Pakistan. The numbers speak volumes – in 2022, over 600 brands invested four billion-plus rupees in digital OOH alone. Such growth within a mere six years was made possible through strategic initiatives, relentless education efforts, and fostering the development of this medium. The result? An exponential compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 45% in DOOH billings since 2016.

These statistics bear witness to the power of DOOH and its ability to leave a lasting imprint on consumers’ minds. According to research by Kantar, DOOH has claimed the title of the most innovative advertising format in seven out of the 11 countries surveyed; 37% of the consumers surveyed found DOOH ads to be highly relevant, surpassing the impact of website ads at 21%. Furthermore, consumers deemed DOOH ads 50% more memorable than those on social media platforms, and 53% stated that DOOH ads provided the necessary information to make informed purchase decisions.

In this era of digital dominance, consumer behaviour is evolving at an unprecedented pace. Commuting habits have been transformed by hybrid working environments and shifts in transportation preferences. Even without personal vehicles, consumers can effortlessly utilise services like Bykea, Careem or Uber, and armed with their smartphones they can explore the brands they encounter on DOOH screens. The consumer journey itself has undergone a transformation with online shopping taking centre stage, and a noticeable shift from city centres to local markets.

Bear in mind that DOOH currently represents around 24% of the $40 billion global outdoor advertising market, of which digital OOH accounts for a significant portion, while programmatic OOH is a rising star at 6.7% and this upward trajectory in spending shows no signs of slowing down, with a projected growth rate of 19% in 2023.

With programmatic digital OOH (prDOOH) now available in Pakistan, the game has changed. All digital screens will now be online, empowering brands to plan, activate, measure and integrate their creatives in real-time. Brands can target their audiences instantly, maximising creative optimisation and ensuring alignment with their target market.

The US witnessed a six-fold increase in prDOOH in the past four years alone. It’s essential to note that prDOOH is not meant to replace existing OOH and digital strategies; rather it will complement them, offering marketers new avenues for audience engagement and reach. With location-based targeting, behavioural triggers, real-time temporal adjustments and customisable combinations, brands can capture audiences like never before. Multiple creative variations tailored to different times of the day, weather conditions, consumer profiles and occasions are within reach. PrDOOH will enable brands to adopt an omnichannel approach to media planning, integrating websites, social media and DOOH, with comparable cost per impression and other efficiency metrics.

The introduction of prDOOH is a major leap forward in advertising technology, especially for OOH media. Advertisers can now track exposure, measure effectiveness, and attribute the impact of DOOH campaigns to tangible business outcomes. The journey from traditional to programmatic DOOH has opened boundless doors of opportunity for brands, media owners and agencies to connect with their audiences in a profoundly meaningful and impactful way. Together, we will conquer the wastefulness that once haunted John Wanamaker’s dreams, forging a brighter and more thrilling marketing future.

Ahsan Sheikh is CEO, Kinetic Pakistan.