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Digital out of home ads shown on the side of a busy street
| | 5 minute read

What is Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) Advertising?

This article covers the definition of DOOH and OOH advertising, what are the differences and trends, and discusses key benefits and use cases as examples.

Imagine this: The digital advertising landscape resembles a racetrack, where speed and agility are essential to outpacing the competition. But what's catching everyone's eye on the side of the track? It's an ad! People are increasingly hitting the road for work and play.

With this resurgence in travel and activity, the momentum of Digital Out of Home (DOOH) advertising is revving up as an essential tactic to keep brands front and center in the consumer mindset. 


What is Digital Out-of-Home Advertising?

Digital out of home advertising (DOOH) is essentially OOH in a powered-up form, in that the same methods of advertising with a large reach in public places are deployed but now have digital components.

No longer bound by the limitations of vinyl billboards or large printed ads placed in bus shelters, DOOH media uses screens to deliver content through an array of screens throughout public spaces. DOOH can be used for both indoor and outdoor advertising, including location-based advertising.

Unlike OOH media, DOOH advertising can reach highly-targeted audiences in real-time. It can also provide interactive experiences where just one user participates, such as a kiosk screen in a subway station, or a large crowd like Superbowl billboards.

What is Out-of-Home (OOH) Advertising?

Traditional out of home advertising (OOH) is, exactly as the name implies, advertising seen in public spaces by large numbers of people. It isn’t highly-targeted like print media or digital display ads. The most common examples are billboards on the highway, ads placed in bus shelters and train stations, and ads inside the actual train cars and buses. In New York and New Jersey, ad campaigns have even been placed in the actual train tunnels and train car exteriors.

Transportation-focused reach is highly sought after given the foot traffic. However, it’s also common for building owners to sell ad space on a bare wall for a billboard or spray-painted advertisement.

DOOH Venue Types

DOOH media is similar to OOH media, but it utilizes digital screens in place of physical media designed for public spaces. Digital billboards are a prominent example in that they serve the same purpose as vinyl billboards, except the display is on a digital screen the same size.

Location-based media like bars and gyms along with street furniture, which includes bus shelters and informational kiosks, are also integral DOOH venues given their foot traffic and how long people tend to stay in those physical locations.

However, just because people aren’t in a location for very long doesn’t mean that DOOH advertising can’t be deployed. Points of purchase are another DOOH venue, such as fare screens in taxicabs and tablet checkouts in physical stores.

The Shift from OOH to DOOH

DOOH media is experiencing rapid growth, with DOOH advertising trends fomenting a $22.59 billion projected market volume by 2027: more than twice what it was worth in 2020.

DOOH is an extremely powerful medium because it presents invaluable opportunities that weren’t possible with traditional outdoor advertising, all while retaining its chief characteristics of broadly reaching people in public spaces.

The shift from OOH to DOOH became inevitable because it combines the large reach of traditional OOH but with the tracking, analytics, and agility of digital ad campaigns. Attribution has been a major draw of DOOH, making it fully part of an omnichannel marketing strategy instead of a method that exists outside of it. 

Historically, it was impossible to determine whether billboard or train ads were strategically placed. But with modern technology such as beacons and geofencing, marketers are able to determine where their customers are engaged, to serve geo targeted mobile ads.

With DOOH advertising, images can be animated, the screen’s image can be changed in real time depending on factors like weather or time of day, and details like phone number or location changes no longer require reprints or waiting for workers to change that billboard’s image. Even entire ad campaigns can be changed and replaced in minutes.

The Benefits of Digital Out-of-Home Advertising

DOOH advertising is infinitely more effective and powerful than OOH media. OOH does have its benefits: a vinyl billboard or poster ad in a train station will still be visible even in a power outage. With OOH relying on print, vinyl, paint, and other physical mediums, a digital screen won’t fade from the elements but it can crash or stop powering on. Despite this risk, DOOH remains a more powerful method since it provides the ability to change a display instantly among other benefits.

Programmatic DOOH Advertising

Programmatic DOOH makes it easy to purchase and deliver your ads to billboards, kiosks, and other signage. Conditions can be set for how, when, and where ads should appear and be arranged based on budget or location across multiple screens.

This also makes marketing with an incredibly wide reach more accessible to small businesses than it has been in the past.

Targeting Capabilities

Outdoor media was once limited to the real estate where you advertised. However, with advancements in digital targeting technologies, brands can now monitor their customers’ movements instead of relying on demographic data alone to best guess where the target buyers are likely to see that ad.

First-Party Data

First-party data typically helps with reaching the same audience across display ads, social media, mobile devices, and other aspects of digital advertising. Now that DOOH has entered the arena, first-party data can also be utilized with OOH technologies while still ensuring customers' privacy.

More Accurate Measurements

DOOH doesn’t have the guesswork-driven attribution of print media and traditional OOH advertising. Between clearer attribution, granular geolocation, and first-party data visibility, DOOH provides accurate data for ad campaign efficacy.

Real-Time Messaging

If an ad campaign is failing to engage audiences on other platforms, or was infamously disastrous such as the Planters Super Bowl commercial that many felt was insensitive given the timing of Kobe Bryant’s death, it can be immediately removed from DOOH venues. Real-time events that were not planned for, such as extreme weather and viral memes, can also be incorporated into DOOH media right away instead of waiting for physical media to be created.

Wider Reach

DOOH is now part of an omnichannel approach rather than a siloed process separate from digital marketing. Because first-party data provides accurate and immediate insight on where brands’ customers reside and the places they frequent, DOOH venues reach new customers while keeping current ones engaged.

DOOH is More Connected and Engaging

DOOH media is more engaging because it provides so much more potential to personalize. Since DOOH advertising is targeted without being intrusive, it’s estimated that roughly half of consumers who engage with DOOH media will go to a search engine afterward to find out more about a brand or product.

How to Elevate Messaging with DOOH Advertising

DOOH provides the wide reach of location-based advertising while taking the guesswork out of working with traditional OOH media. By harnessing the power of DOOH campaigns, it can take your messaging to the next level by utilizing these options unique to DOOH:

Dynamic Creatives

Dynamic creatives have revolutionized digital out-of-home advertising. They are essentially the ability to personalize displays at scale, such as a billboard promoting a chain restaurant two exits away while that same chain is 10 miles away in another locale.

Until recently, only a handful of media networks offered dynamic capabilities with outdoor screens which forced brands to opt for the few networks that offered them or working with the networks that offered different scale and variety with their advertising plans. Today, they are widely available and a significant force in DOOH campaigns.

Mobile Extensions

Mobile integration and extensions are a fortuitous component of DOOH plans. A 2022 Sightline study showed that 66% of consumers say that DOOH encourages them to search online, and it’s even higher if they had some type of mobile extension such as a QR code with a call to action. The same study showed that 94% of consumers find QR codes to be useful.

Integrating a mobile extension into a DOOH campaign can significantly increase engagement. Since the content is digital as well, the QR code can be dynamically changed if necessary along with any links or social handles where traffic is being directed.

Interactive Screens

DOOH provides a major opportunity for creativity and engagement with interactive ad campaigns. Quizlets, “choose your own adventure” type ads, or even content complex enough to necessitate a game developer can be created for screens. Interactive and transmedia experience advertising campaigns can be designed for a single user or group settings.

The Future of DOOH Advertising

With enhanced attribution abilities and greater opportunities for engagement than legacy OOH venues, DOOH will continue to experience rapid growth in 2023 and beyond. Brands leveraging DOOH campaigns expect to see higher engagement as ads become more personalized and interactive, especially as the usage of ad blocking software persists on computers and mobile devices with consumers feeling that they're intrusive. Since DOOH is designed not to be intrusive, but still works with the same first-party data gleaned from display ads and inbound marketing, it will continue to see traction as more people venture into the post-pandemic world.

Navigating OOH and DOOH media can be exciting but daunting. You need experienced marketing professionals who know how to properly leverage these resources and take your brand to the next level. Contact Media Now Interactive for an assessment today.