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Why has dynamic advertising really not taken off in OOH?

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

Dynamic is perceived to be too expensive

A common suggestion is the price of dynamic is preventing mass adoption. This was mentioned by all three panelists at the recent Mediatel #futureofooh event held yesterday. Is this really true or is it that clients or their agencies don’t value it? Admittedly all three Mediatel panelists that raised it were from media agencies.

Is it not more the case that those closest to clients are not fully invested?

Is it that the dynamic cost is most commonly taken from the media budget making it unprofitable? Or that creative agencies don’t want machines taking their lucrative production work churning out localisation work manually? Or that many don’t value ooh creative beyond spectaculars for Cannes from the hello boys school. How many data driven ooh ads have won golds at Cannes?

One should also ask why are media agencies selling creative concepts? No disrespect to media agencies as they regularly do more than buy media, but do their clients really take the dynamic proposals seriously or perhaps it’s more that they are talking to media clients rather than those owning the creative budget?

How should we value it?

What price would clients pay? This is an arbitrary question. Inevitably clients have a frame of reference between media and production cost ratios with many believing that 80 : 20 is the ratio nobody would rightly go beyond.

Is it not more that we haven’t got the value exchange right?

A combination of 2 things would improve the perceived value proposition i) business cases that only dynamic could have delivered, bringing genuine ROI not just award entries and ii) a price point that makes dynamic not just scalable but essential to any comms plan with OOH in the mix.

We certainly spend too long celebrating old award entries and not enough on making dynamic concepts integral and normal rather than one off innovations ticking a box. We’re looking back as a justification for not looking forward.

Programmatic dooh is potentially that breakthrough, enabling real time marketing for retailers and brands that want to react to data to both optimise and flex their media investment and make their creative more relevant to cut through.

The moments that matter research from Posterscope, JCD and Clear Channel shows the value dynamic brings, but it’s clear that research alone will not drive mass take up.

Lack of clear attribution in many ooh campaigns including dynamic

It’s a commonly held view that ooh is difficult to pick up in econometric studies and is often left off the plans as a result. Brands love out of home, but often can’t quantify it’s contribution. Dynamic campaigns normally represent a small amount of the total OOH campaign making it even harder to track.

The fact that most OOH campaigns are creatively brand led rather than performance based also poses a problem in quantifying their contribution.

We all love OOH for it’s brand building broadcast capability, but that misses the potential of digital OOH to be tactical, hyper local and performance based at the same time. It’s a myth that you can’t do both, which is often the position of the creative agency in protecting their territory. Physical retail provides a strong source for attribution studies as they measure footfall and sales uplift locally. OOH and content plans can be overlayed and real time effects measured. Crucially brand metrics and performance in a location can be modelled together so that a full picture emerges and that can be constantly optimised.

The rise of programmatic digital OOH is good for attribution and spend

Digital OOH is finally now being sold at scale programmatically across the major media owners - by that I mean by impression, by location, by moment and by bid. This is creating a new value exchange for digital OOH with those who have invested in data able to derive the value to them of the impressions they buy beyond the industry trading currency. Clients that are invested in data and modelling in other digital channels are now adding programmatic OOH to the model so they know the value for their future bids and can then have always on triggers that include OOH ready to turn on automatically and at speed. This in turn should drive growth in OOH spend, which is the holy grail for all of us in the sector.

It’s the speed and automation that are game changers here and will certainly help with the dynamic value proposition. Most OOH is planned and bought a long time in advance for known events like sales and launches. However, business operates in real time and market conditions fluctuate constantly. Digital OOH and programmatic buying now enables them to respond giving them new reasons to invest as no retailer has the time to respond to those conditions with traditional OOH buying and creative practices / workflows

Programmatic OOH has long been feared as a cannibaliser, a driver of distressed or discounted inventory rather than a platform for growth that sits happily alongside traditional buying. Brands that understand their data and have ROI models from programmatic OOH campaigns will bring new money from performance budgets when they want to flex their spend based on opportunity or need - both derived from real time data. For example a movie that’s tracking well in some locations but not others can be supported hyper locally to drive box office (see main pic).

Data expertise is often in the wrong part of the organisation

Clients need to be invested in their own data and see that that can drive the creative in their advertising in the same way it drives their purchasing, stock, store layouts, promotions and logistics. They have data scientists and expertise that is structurally too far away from their marketing departments.

We need to move past weather triggers once and for all and use the full range of data available to marketers from 1st party to 3rd.

For example:

- Sales data that enables optimised product choices (McDonalds dynamic menu pilot)

- Dynamic pricing that’s the norm online coming to physical retail to move audiences out of peak time shopping to flatten peaks and troughs to optimise the in store experience and revenue throughout the days

- Stock data that plays on scarcity and promotes availability

- Footfall data that makes a virtue of low queue times or crucially, availability of staff to support purchase choices

Falling between the gap between creative and media

Dynamic advertising can be powerful and premium, yet we don’t have enough advertisers with their own business cases and ROI models for OOH, let alone aware of the dynamic opportunity.

Why is this? It’s not simply about price, it’s because our industry isn’t structured easily to embrace it. Should it be sold by media agencies as it’s media optimisation or by creative agencies? Neither are really set up to do it at scale and their business models don’t fit.

It’s falling through the gap in between the two.

More importantly clients aren’t yet geared up to buy it as they are often structured like their agencies to buy media from one and creative from another. Clients need to demand it and potentially do it themselves along with other biddable media that’s been in housed if their agencies can’t deliver what they need. This will only happen when the advantages of data driven dynamic advertising are well known to clients and can no longer be ignored.

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