There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic turned the advertising world on its head – and one of the beneficiaries has been programmatic DOOH (digital out-of-home) advertising.
According to statistics shared by Billboard Insider, 2021 spending on programmatic OOH reached hundreds of millions in the US alone, and grew significantly even compared to the year prior, when the pandemic first struck. In 2025, this expenditure is expected to hit $34.2 billion.
However, even if you aren’t a marketing novice, you might understandably be wondering what ‘programmatic DOOH’ actually is. So, let’s first unpack several of the terms associated with it…
What are OOH and DOOH advertising?
The term ‘OOH advertising’ – the ‘OOH’ stands for ‘out-of-home’ – simply refers to traditional outdoor advertising, which you will be familiar with seeing in an array of public spaces. OOH ads can include bus shelter ads, billboard ads, poster ads and so forth.
Meanwhile, Inside Network describes DOOH advertising as “an amalgamation of offline OOH advertising with the addition of digital elements in it”. The site elaborates that DOOH advertising “uses digital screens to deliver content to the people through elevator screens, digital billboards, and television screens”.
However, there’s a bit more to it than that – as, while an OOH ad can remain fixed in place with the same, single image for a significant length of time, a DOOH ad contains multiple animated images and stays in its designated position for a notably shorter duration. A DOOH ad also allows for interactivity with the audience, unlike a standard OOH ad.
An easy-to-follow introduction to programmatic DOOH
While traditional DOOH advertising would entail you approaching actual humans to buy ad space, programmatic DOOH differs in allowing this purchasing process to occur through wholly digital means.
Here’s a (relatively) basic description of how it works. Using what is known as a demand side platform (DSP), a brand will auction its DOOH ad so that the brand will be automatically allocated a spot or space for this ad. The brand will, however, be competing with other brands for the most appealing advertising spaces.
Of course, what exactly constitutes the ‘best’ space for a given ad will depend on various criteria, including what this ad is intended to promote and where, geographically, the target audience for the product or service being advertised are likely to especially often turn up.
Hence, when submitting an ad through a DSP, the brand will also be able to specify the conditions in which the ad will appear. You could therefore see programmatic DOOH as working very much like an out-of-home version of pay-per-click advertising, where brands bid for online – rather than out-of-home – advertising slots.
How to get started with your programmatic DOOH journey
If you are completely new to the world of programmatic DOOH, it would be helpful for you to approach a large, established provider of digital advertising opportunities for advice. Many businesses could, for example, take advantage of Clear Channel’s LaunchPAD platform, which is intended to assist brands with bidding for programmatic DOOH slots across Europe.