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The state of programmatic and OOH - all things you must know

Archaeologists claim that the earliest billboards were used during Egyptian times. One could say that flyposting was practised in Europe as early as the 15th-century mini billboards. Jared Bell placed the first billboard for a circus. This marked the beginning of OOH in modern times.

Wouldn't such a timeline make OOH the first mass media format? Well, I'll leave the answer to you.

Before you get curious why I am writing about the past in an article meant for something as advanced as programmatic...

It is important to gain a sense of history before discussing the contemporary or getting into the prediction business. If observed, the trajectories of the past could very well be the guidelines for the future.

Programmatic and OOH

It is important to realise that the nature of programmatic to digital advertisement vis a vie OOH is different. I shall try and provide a primer on this below.

While India is pacing fast towards a platform-driven digital marketplace, we are yet to achieve genuine programmatic in OOH. This is owing to the current infra, environment and education and the very nature of OOH in relation to programmatic.

Programmatic RTB has revolutionised digital advertising by leveraging real-time audience data to deliver highly personalised experiences to target audiences. On the other hand, Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising faces challenges in personalisation due to its one-to-many medium nature.

To evaluate a location for OOH advertising, both first-party data of the location and third-party data from aggregators are utilised to estimate unique reach, impression multiplier, audience demographic, and behaviour. This data is then analysed using predictive algorithms that allow buyers to make informed decisions on the display locations and frequency of ads through programmatic platforms.

The growth of programmatic in the OOH sector is boosted by the automation of the buying process and the availability of inventory through programmatic platforms. There are two main types of programmatic OOH buys through Private Marketplace (PMP) and Open Exchange (OX). PMP deal is where the publishers/media owners and buyers agree on the planning and pricing before bidding for the inventory. At the same time, OX operates as an auction where publishers/media owners set the floor price, and buyers bid in real-time for the inventory. PMP is more popular in OOH due to limited inventory and the complexity of audience understanding.

Programmatic RTB has transformed digital advertising. Its integration into the OOH sector brings a new level of efficiency, flexibility and transparency to traditional out-of-home advertising.

However, one must clearly understand that we still have to cover ground and mature as a market. In terms of potential, India is second to none, and it is a matter of time before we see large-scale platform-based operations come through in OOH.

Key developments

India is far too important a market with the potential that global players cannot undermine. Let us look at some key developments as India strides towards programmatic in the world of OOH.

Omnichannel DSP

Entry of the behemoths in DOOH.

The largest players in the world, such as Google (DV360), Yahoo and Trade Desk, have made a foray into the Indian markets providing omnichannel DSPs.

This is a significant step, and to understand its importance, one needs to understand that OOH has been about buying and planning manually. Implementing it involves other complex logistics. With the introduction of programmatic platforms, DOOH can be bought along with Digital media using these Omnichannel DSPs and implemented easily.

Advertisers in India believe in OOH, but due to the heavy fragmentation of the market and lack of standardised use of data, it was always bought separately. Now they have an opportunity to buy using data at parity with other channels.

This was the missing piece which is now being actively built.

OOH, space remains complicated with respect to measurement. But you can start using single source location intelligence data combined with standard methods to understand audience behaviours and derive the metrics/impressions. With this, the medium will find a healthy inclusion in almost every advertiser plan.

The rising pace of Infrastructure

City Infrastructure is being built at a rapid pace. Not just metros but all the smart cities too. The government has been one of the biggest advertisers on OOH, and they understand the potential of digitisation for effective communication. The government bodies make DOOH part of the infrastructure as they understand its potential to bring better revenues.

An improved mode of transportation means more avenues for targeting the audience.

Massive investment is being made to set up Digital screens at all these touchpoints.

Advertisers, therefore, can now smartly target people with micro-campaigns.

We must focus on Standardisation and Education to take advantage of both these aspects.

Neither the tech nor the infra will be a challenge, but one area where I believe a particular emphasis is required is the training and education of those working in the OOH sector.

In conclusion, the programmatic journey will be a grand tale for India in the context of OOH, but just like all stories, this one needs its heroes.

Heroes who will invest in knowledge and education and deliver a generation who knows how to use this modality to drive value.
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