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Can OOH deliver what third-party targeting lacks? 

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Can OOH deliver what third-party targeting lacks?

 

 

by Adam Green,
 SVP of Strategy, Broadsign

 

 

Unsettling as it may seem, the internet has followed consumers for years. Any time you’ve logged onto an app or browsed the web, you’ve likely participated in the third-party data ecosystem. Your identifier for advertisers (IDFA) or cookie was tagged and tracked like a package and used to serve you “more relevant” ads. This form of third-party targeting quickly became the norm in digital advertising, however, consumers have grown disenchanted with it, leaving some to question if it was ever the most effective approach to begin with. Responding to consumer privacy concerns, technology companies have enhanced app tracking transparency in software updates like iOS 14.5 and largely discontinued support for third-party cookies in major browsers, while governments have cracked down via legislation like GDPR and CPA. The industry may have a little more time to adapt with the delay of the cookie’s demise to 2023, but with all of these developments, it’s never proven more pertinent for the digital advertising community to re-evaluate its approach to targeting. This investigation, however, will not come without sweeping impacts across the ad industry, and for the OOH sector, presents an unprecedented opportunity.

Considering that nearly half of the digital ad market has been dependent upon third-party data and must find an alternative, this trend positions OOH, an inherently contextual medium, to take a larger slice of the digital advertising pie.

Although alternative approaches from Google and TradeDesk are on the docket, we’re also seeing a renewed interest in both contextual and first-party targeting. Considering that nearly half of the digital ad market has been dependent upon third-party data and must find an alternative, this trend positions OOH, an inherently contextual medium, to take a larger slice of the digital advertising pie. If OOH publishers and ad tech developers can come together with advertisers to make contextual OOH ad transactions more accessible, intuitive and scalable, there is potential to shed light on OOH like never before. 

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The power of context 

Contextual targeting has been around for decades, but as advertisers look to strike the right balance between personalization and privacy in a world where third-party targeting is increasingly imperiled, it’s seeing a resurgence. More than 70 percent of consumers prefer personalized content[1], according to a report by The Conference Board in partnership with Nielsen, but 57 percent of US consumers aren’t willing to compromise their data for it.[2]  Contextual targeting provides an alternative approach that doesn’t compromise consumer privacy, not to mention, ads that are contextually relevant tend to drive more neural engagement, better ad recall, and increase purchase intent.[3]

As the industry re-evaluates targeting, OOH is well positioned to take advantage of the growing interest in context, because it has historically leveraged contextual data (weather, time of day, traffic, etc.) to target relevant groups…

As the industry re-evaluates targeting, OOH is well positioned to take advantage of the growing interest in context, because it has historically leveraged contextual data (weather, time of day, traffic, etc.) to target relevant groups of people versus individuals. Combine the right contextual triggers with an increasing volume of programmatic OOH inventory spanning roadway billboards, wayfinding kiosks, transit screens, stadium jumbotrons, and more, and it becomes that much easier to reach an intended audience with dynamic creative that leaves an impression and inspires brand loyalty.

Technological Innovations Drives a New OOH 

OOH fortuitously laid some of the groundwork for the medium to become a favorable alternative to third-party targeting via a strategic reinvention accelerated by the global pandemic. In recent years, OOH publishers have worked to digitize more static inventory. Alongside tech developers, they’ve also doubled down on programmatic efforts to make more OOH inventory accessible to media buyers. The flexibility that programmatic provides has proven especially valuable to OOH media buyers throughout the pandemic, allowing them to adapt creative and ad budgets to keep pace with shifting conditions and sentiments. In the last two years, we also saw more programmatic OOH inventory on-boarded to SSPs like Reach via Broadsign deals with PikassoCaptivate and Quebecor.

At the same time, we also saw more DOOH inventory become accessible programmatically on specialty and omnichannel platforms, via partnerships like those between Broadsign and Verizon MediaAdformAdomni; and Pladway. Just this summer, we announced a deal with Clear Channel Europe aimed at making OOH transactions more accessible and intuitive. 

Industry-wide we’ve also seen competitors come together to evolve the medium. At the end of 2020, a consortium of ad tech innovators released a new set of recommendations, aligned with OpenRTB2.5, for labeling DOOH inventory in programmatic marketplaces based on screen type, audience and environment. These standards were designed to open up new inventory discovery opportunities, improve targeting, and promote greater knowledge equality within the programmatic OOH industry. 

OOH has made tremendous progress, but its evolution is far from complete, especially as it continues its programmatic journey and the ad industry scrambles to find a third-party targeting alternative. 

Charting a Path Forward 

In a world where context reigns, the potential for OOH is infinite, especially if everyone in the space can join forces to identify the best contextual triggers for modern audiences and improve how they’re deployed across OOH transactions. 

For OOH publishers and media owners, it’s imperative to start thinking about the contexts that will best shine the spotlight on their inventory. Is it that one in five people in front of a screen at the metro station drink coffee, the commuter train is running ten minutes behind, and there is a coffee shop in their sightline, or that it’s a frigid winter morning? All possible contexts must be considered and prioritized in order of importance. 

At the same time, advertisers must determine the scenarios that are most likely to drive purchase decisions and keep the lines of communication open with publishers and ad tech developers. Does an auto brand want to reach potential car-buyers at a standstill in traffic on the freeway, or target screens in a shopping mall where potential auto-buyers may be present? The answer will depend on the situation, brand and campaign, but if advertisers can share these contexts in order of priority with the technology developers, contextual targeting becomes much easier.

A large majority of the responsibility in making all of this possible and scalable falls on OOH tech developers. Manually juggling contextual data is no longer a viable approach. Media buyers need to be able to pre-select the contextual scenarios that matter most in a few clicks and hit go. With so many possible scenarios, this may not happen overnight, but with input from all the major players on the contexts that matter most, DOOH ad tech developers can help the industry fast track these developments. Together we can all ensure OOH becomes a larger player in the digital advertising ecosystem as it undergoes one of the biggest transformations of all time. 

[1] Younique Personalized Marketing Index
[2] 57% of US consumers would forego marketing personalization to protect their data
[3] The new contextual ad targeting works, study says

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed belong solely to the author, and not necessarily OOH Today.

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