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Unpacking the Confusion to pDOOH

The Critical Partner to Digital Campaigns

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Programmatic digital out-of-home: Critical partner
to digital campaigns through recovery and beyond


SVP, Programmatic at Clear Channel Outdoor


As the pandemic drags on and brands cautiously plan and measure every ad dollar spent, “buying only the media that matters” remains the mantra of most marketers. And fortunately, this has been, and remains, the premise, and promise, of Programmatic Digital Out-of-Home (pDOOH) even before Covid entered our vernacular. As travel patterns and behaviors continue to shift as a result of the pandemic, brands still need to reach their target audiences at scale and along their continually evolving journeys. Enter programmatic DOOH.

Yet, as simple as this maxim sounds, there remains confusion when it comes to platform. To address some of the common questions about programmatic DOOH and to help brands leverage this tool to power their recovery, let’s unpack a few items. 

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What IS programmatic digital out-of-home?

It’s really not so mysterious. Programmatic DOOH can be activated similarly to other programmatic buys with real-time biddability, audience data-driven targeting and DSP-based buying. And this flexibility is critical as consumers remain out and about exercising more purposeful journeys. Put another way, programmatic DOOH offers everything you know and love about the impact and efficiency of DOOH – just bought in a new way. It offers the scale, reach and creativity that makes OOH advertising so popular and enduring, and you can purchase programmatic DOOH across most DOOH formats, whether it’s billboards, transit shelters, airport digital networks or massive DOOH screens like Times Square spectaculars in New York.

The difference is that it’s about real-time buying of DOOH in the real world. Programmatic DOOH offers:

1. Real-time biddability/flexibility – Programmatic DOOH uses the same 1st/2nd price auction types in play for display, and with this comes the ability to be nimble & responsive. These capabilities are all the more valuable given the fluid nature of consumer behavior during the pandemic and likely in the post-pandemic era, as well. Programmatic DOOH can help brands keep up.

2. Real-time triggers – You can transact a Programmatic DOOH buy tied to real-time contextual and environmental triggers like dayparts, weather and geography.

3. It’s data-driven – Today’s OOH ad campaigns are all about data, and Programmatic DOOH features data-driven audience targeting via demographic and behavioral insights; opportunities for first-party data activation; along with the more traditional OOH strengths of proximity and geo-targeting. Considering how consumers’ relationships with businesses have evolved during the pandemic, the data allow us to understand emerging travel patterns and help brands reach those audiences with digital displays along their new routes.

4. Attribution –Today’s OOH is all about ROI and the proof is in our sophisticated attribution metrics. Clear Channel’s own RADAR measurement capabilities enable advertisers to understand how their campaigns in the physical world are reaching key audiences along the pathways where they are traveling most often and driving them to the point of sale, whether its via foot traffic in stores, online visits and much more.

To sum this all up, pDOOH provides many of the same capabilities and flexibility that make DOOH so compelling to brands including weather triggers, changing creative/messaging by daypart, audience targeting, etc. The great innovation of pDOOH is that it enables brands to do these things in a cross-channel, DSP-driven environment, allowing DOOH to be planned, bought and evaluated in the context of the broader media mix, not in a silo.

What is the advantage of a more efficient way to buy DOOH?

You’ve probably heard how Programmatic DOOH is a more efficient way to buy – but in my experience, many people are confused about what this really means. Programmatic DOOH puts the media buyer in the driver’s seat, so you buy only the ad plays & impressions that matter to you the most. DOOH Programmatic enables you to purchase the media that reaches the highest composition of your audience in the dayparts, market conditions or locations you desire. Ultimately it gives you more fluidity to how you allocate your media and how many impressions you buy and when.


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