(Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
(Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
A view from Josko Grljevic

OOH can’t be dumbed down to just an impression buy

Digital out-of-home advertisers must concentrate on outcomes and building from the ground up, rather than retro-fitting the real-time bidding auction model used for online display.

As an “offline” medium without a direct one-to-one connection between screens and audiences, there’s a layer of complexity to out of home that doesn’t exist in many other channels.

The very fact that we have agencies that specialise in planning and buying OOH inventory is testament to the intricacies involved. Maximising value and success relies on the ability to master multiple dimensions including data, insights, inventory, audiences, geography, time, plus many more.

Simply buying impressions without taking these into account will always deliver campaigns that underperform. Especially when there aren’t any cookies available to measure accountability and effectiveness. 

For programmatic or any other form of automation to be as effective as current “traditional” methods, these planning dimensions must be built in to existing algorithms. They also need to be transparent to ensure the credibility and effectiveness of campaign optimisation.

Programmatic real-time biddinig, often misunderstood and commonly used as a synonym for anything remotely linked to tech and automation, is a trading mechanism that was designed to automate the planning and buying of impressions in online channels, not programmatic OOH. Not only does it fail to account for most of the nuances of this broadcast channel, but it doesn’t deliver on many of the key planning and optimisation aspects.

The reality of OOH is that it can’t be dumbed down to just an impression buy, for that would nullify the medium and its benefits to advertisers.

Programmatic can be hugely beneficial by driving the digitisation and automation of what has traditionally been thought of as an “offline” and manual channel. But simply porting an established trading mechanic over to OOH also brings with it many existing challenges.

The PWC/ISBA report released in May highlighted two fundamental problems with the standard display RTB ecosystem. The presence of so many links in the value chain adds layers of taxes and makes it difficult to free up data for analysis purposes. The result is more budget going into the tech stack and less into actual media spend.

There are two approaches for making programmatic fit for purpose. Either convince the existing RTB platforms to incorporate the intricacies related to OOH planning, buying and measurement in a transparent way. Or build a new transparent mechanism that integrates existing specialist knowledge into an automated, platform where the buy side is only ever a single hop away from the product. Both options would present a significant benefit by making programmatic OOH accessible to new channels and digital buyers.

We must stop fixating on the mechanics and protocols of programmatic execution and focus on those things that actually deliver value. Advertisers want to influence and maximise outcomes and ROI. They should never have to think about the plumbing. 

Josko Grljevic is chief transformation officer at Talon

Image: (Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images)