Remi du Preez, Managing Director at Polygon, says ‘conventional’ digital channels allow access at scale, as well as advanced targeting and measurement. For advertisers, this means that they can serve advertisements to a pre-defined target audience, creating parameters that reduce the amount of media wastage and maximise bang for buck.

On the other end of the spectrum stood digital out of home (DOOH) media, where these same drivers were largely absent. Historically, targeting at scale had proven challenging, due to the non-standardised way the DOOH ecosystem had been created. In fact, targeting, in general, was reserved for those who had real big budget energy (BBE) as was activating at scale, due to the relative rigidity of loop-based buying. Finally, measurement methodologies were inference-based, and not rooted in any hard data.

This is not to say that DOOH didn’t have its place. For a long time, outdoor media was highly popular for its high-reach and high-frequency appeal. What it lacked in measurability, it more-or-less made up for in larger-than-life presence. However, traditional digital channels and DOOH were seen as entirely separate buckets. ‘But the times’, as a boy from Minnesota once sung, ‘they are a-changing’.

Thanks to the advent of programmatic platforms that integrate with DOOH (known as programmatic DOOH or pDOOH), these barriers to entry have started to dissipate. With reliable audience and tracking data included in the mix, DOOH can now be measured using the same metrics that make sense to a digital marketer.

But are these metrics identical? Not exactly…but close. Consumers leave digital dust wherever they go – be it to a website, or a brick-and-mortar retail store. For the digital marketer, this dust provides clues about the consumer’s mindset, which data aggregators capture. Online media owners then use this data to serve ads to a consumer when they’re in the right frame of mind or amenable to purchasing a product or service.

In the realm of DOOH, different technologies and methodologies are employed to extract location, visitation, or search behaviour of consumers, but the data presents in a manner akin to traditional digital channels, which means that the digital marketer can make sense of it, benchmark and report on it in a similar fashion.

And the impact of pDOOH is proving to be powerful – both in brand-building and performance. Traditional digital channels have always been largely performance-focused, but low on brand. Research from Kantar Media Reactions (SA, 2022) indicated that online channels were at the bottom end of building brand equity (<30%) – well behind DOOH which comes out tops (53 – 55%), only surpassed by Sponsorship.

In the same study, online presented the lowest level of brand recall (9% – 48%), while conversely, DOOH had the highest impact on brand recall (46% – 84%). So, while online might be a digital marketer’s go-to, the growing level of ‘banner blindness’ and digital clutter means that they would be wise to start considering alternative channels to complement their digital campaigns. In addition, according to a report (the OOH home of IPG Mediabrands) study, ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’, DOOH increases the effectiveness of online marketing when complementing a campaign, with Search being the most improved (increasing by 80%), followed by social media (56%) and online (31%).

We’re now able to track the consumer journey from exposure to purchase and we’ve proven conversion beyond any shadow of a doubt. This demonstrates that DOOH is not only the medium to build brand equity, but also performance. Now that DOOH screens can be accessed in the same way a typical digital buy would occur, marketers can apply both brand and performance metrics across DOOH campaigns, allowing for more cohesive measurement and substantially increasing the effectiveness of marketing budgets. Furthermore, this inventory is available under the major DSPs that digital buyers already have access to, making buying easy.

For digital marketers, this provides another channel that they can add to their current arsenal, allowing them to design high impact omnichannel campaigns that live in the digital and real world, with all the tick boxes that you would expect from a digital buy.