Programmatic buying is enabling new money to come into outdoor advertising and this could lead to its growth, says Tom Goddard, President & Executive Chairman, World Out of Home Organization (WOO) — a worldwide association of outdoor advertising companies.

Edited excerpts:


We have seen the rise and rise of Digital OOH. But are brands ready to embrace this? What are the other big trends in OOH? 

There’s no doubt that digital is growing fast, and brands are certainly ready to embrace this. In India, the amount of revenue generated by digital remains small at just over 3 per cent whereas across APAC figures show digital OOH revenues to be 46 per cent of total revenue. In the UK for instance, it’s well over 60 per cent which shows the potential!

However, it’s worth remembering that even in the UK at least 40 per cent of OOH revenue is still driven by classic OOH and therefore this constitutes a far greater percentage in terms of the actual number of sites. It can provide key directional signage for a small business or restaurant. This is particularly the case in larger countries such as India. Classic OOH is a vital part of the ad landscape and will remain so for many years to come.

Other key trends driving the market include the significant developments in adtech particularly around the automation of the buying process, in effect making OOH easier to buy. From this, we are now also beginning to see the benefits of programmatic buying allowing OOH to be bought as part of a truly omnichannel campaign.

In doing so this allows OOH to be easily bought alongside other digital channels and as a result we are already seeing some situations where budgets, originally destined for digital, are being shifted into OOH. More often than not this is new money for OOH and although only small at the moment this offers significant potential going forward.

Improving the use of data allows us to far more effectively to develop well-targeted campaigns aimed at specific audiences at specific times of day with dynamic campaigns being run driven by for instance the weather conditions. This offers significantly more flexibility for advertisers. Improving audience measurement which inspires confidence in our advertisers is also driving growth, but I’ll talk more about that later.


How can a brand's OOH strategy be integrated with its other media strategy to deliver more impact? Or should OOH be standalone?

For me, OOH works well as a standalone medium, often for smaller businesses with a local catchment area but also it remains one of the only forms of media that can give any business of any size, significant geographical coverage at a favourable cost compared to the likes of television.

However, OOH works even better in conjunction with other media such as TV where it can greatly amplify and extend the potential campaign benefits to an advertiser. OOH can also perform the role of gateway to online or mobile advertising an effect that has been only strengthened by the resurgence of the QR code.

OOH is increasingly being used to generate powerful social media campaigns around a brand, often using just one site as the inspiration for a campaign. So, for me, OOH can work on a stand-alone basis but can be even more effective as an integrated part of a multi-media campaign.


How is the measurability of OOH improving? Is there more science going into tracking consumer movement?

In any work we do with our members, audience measurement is an area that consistently comes out as the most important to them and yes there is more science going into understanding consumer movement and ultimately the accurate measurement of the true coverage and reach of a campaign.

In fact, as result, WOO worked with two of the industry’s Global Measurement experts, Neil Eddleston and Gideon Adey to develop fully revised and updated Global Guidelines for OOH measurement, using the best current practices from across the world.

This is a ‘how to’ guide for territories looking to introduce Audience Measurement or to develop their existing measurement and governance models. The Indian Outdoor Advertising Association was fully involved in this important initiative.


Some interesting neuroscience is going into OOH... Any examples you can give of recent such campaigns?

We are seeing two very interesting ways that neuroscience is being used in OOH. One: using the base of neuroscience and adding AI to qualify what works in OOH creative. Understanding that creative drives the ROI, getting the creative right is of prime importance to OOH, especially given that it is a medium consumed at a glance. Brands using neuroscience to optimise the viewability of their creative will be the winners.

Two: we are seeing neuroscience used to build metrics that go beyond attention to measure impact. The Neuro Impact Factor metric that the Australian industry has added to its audience measurement system MOVE, now gives brands a qualitative metric that proves the efficacy of OOH as a channel.

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OOH lends itself to ambush marketing rather well. It’s pretty easy for a rival to put a competing billboard at the same location. How can brands avoid this pitfall?

This is not really an ideal situation for the brand owner or media owner and is a specific issue in a lightly regulated market where OOH can clutter up locations. In such a scenario I would suggest the brand should always opt for the premium site, or perhaps create a cluster to make it more impactful.

However, the media owner should take all reasonable steps to prevent any ambush taking place. To be honest, far more brand owners are tending to use social media as their ambush media of choice.


How is OOH in India in terms of growth and creativity compared to global markets?

Global markets have continued to grow, despite Covid-19, due to the consistent efforts of media owners, and various industry bodies working alongside partners, agencies, and governments. It’s much more organised than the Indian environment.

India is slowly trying to make a change and one of the biggest steps for India is the launch of an audience measurement platform. We have seen the product and the efforts taken by IOAA. This is truly the path to growth for India.

But where creativity is concerned brands are exploring this market based on the landscape and the type of audience it has. There are some very interesting executions we have seen in this market which are not just restricted to smart use of local languages; painting entire buildings, but also include anamorphic displays and 3D digital content.

From my experience, Indian OOH fully embraces great creativity to the full benefit of the medium.