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Programmatic shaking up Out of Home

As technology continues to develop, marketers have access to increasingly sophisticated tools, such as programmatic marketing, to reach the right people. This year this method of buying and selling ad space looks to be moving from its traditional space in the home, onto the streets. So, what does this mean for the industry?


We’ve probably all heard that “Video Killed the Radio Star”, but what we might not have realised was that this catchy song was referencing an early form of digital disruption.

Now as programmatic marketing settles in as a permanent fixture in the marketing landscape, it looks like digital-out-of-home advertising is next on the list of media to experience a similar shake-up.

Programmatic marketing can be defined as the practice of using algorithmic software to place bids and determine placement platforms when buying and selling digital advertising space.

Until recently this was only widely available for digital advertising in-home, but as technology has developed, billboards and other out-of-home media are becoming accessible via programmatic channels as well.

All media has gone through some form of digital disruption over the years as technology continues to develop and Programmatic Digital Out of Home (pDOOH) is a natural progression says Sam Thompson Head of Media and Partnerships at Bench Media.

Sam Thompson.

He says that pDOOH will change, and probably already has changed, how agencies are strategising around what is most relevant to their brands, how they develop their creatives, how they can make the process more efficient and remove human error.

“A lot of agencies can get scared of programmatic,” he adds. “It’s worth pointing out that it’s literally just a way of transacting media and using data to make things more addressable.

As media consumption becomes more fragmented, and consumption behaviour continues to change, Thompson believes there will be more opportunities for programmatic advertising to be a part of it.

“I’m of the opinion that we will see the word programmatic die off and it will just be the way we do things in the future.”

In a general sense there are several parties involved with programmatic advertising, the two most obvious being advertisers and publishers. Advertisers want to buy the space on the internet or digital billboards, while publishers have the space to sell. Within this framework advertisers can work with other parties that specialise in data collection, creative content, and many other facets of this complex operation.

With general online programmatic advertising, each advert has a space chosen automatically for it, based on extremely specific data collected on the target audiences’ age, location, career, and other relevant interests.

For Vinay Shriyan, Mi9’s Programmatic Manager, this streamlining means as an ad buyer it saves time.

“What programmatic is bringing in is a standard towards how advertisers buy ads and at the same time how publishers maintain their ad inventory because of the demand that exists.

“In my opinion, programmatic advertising has made most brands/advertisers glocal, reaching their target market locally as well as globally. The programmatic ecosystem creates a relatively unified approach to ad buying/selling making it convenient to reach your desired audiences in your suburb or across the globe.

“While the programmatic tools are now much more intuitive and available to many, there is still quite a learning curve to them. It’s really difficult training marketeers on programmatic ad buying since there are very few resources or trainers available in our country and if you intend on hiring a well-rounded programmatic marketeer or trader – that is a rare breed to find.”

Vinay Shrıyan.

Programmatic advertising essentially opens doors to a large catalogue of media offering more of a “raw supply and demand situation,” according to Parris Downey, Head of Digital for Go Media, an independent outdoor media provider.

“[Buyers] have access to the supplier’s inventory. We put suppliers on prices that we are willing to accept for things and they can dip in and dip out. It’s like a buffet.

“The audience isn’t there 24/7 so [advertisers]will dip in and dip out when they deem their audience is there.

“I think we will see changes around how inventory management happens. In saying that it’s not the quickest moving ship – that’s more of an 18–24-month change.”

Richard Pook, Chief Product Officer at Dentsu Media ANZ, is very familiar with programmatic buying of media and says it is a “reasonably well established” method in New Zealand although a lack of talent in specialist areas may have slowed down its growth initially “but that has stabilised now as more people are trained up”.

Richard Pook.

Inspiring digital thinking

As far as pDOOH goes however it’s still early days for New Zealand. “There’s only five to eight percent of spend in more established markets like in the UK or US so it’s not going to all of a sudden be the main way that outdoor advertising is done. But it’s certainly driving a lot of modern digital thinking in the industry,” Pook says.

He also adds that pDOOH is driving more thinking about the downstream measurements of the bought audience and the impact of showing those ads to the audience that has been identified.

“Whether it’s an increase in footfall traffic to a certain store, or a change in patterns of behaviour, you can track that through the data from those programmatic demand side platforms.”

To ensure everyone in the industry is on the same page, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) set up the 2021 Programmatic Digital Out of Home Steering Committee. 

The committee, chaired by Richard Pook and co-chaired by Jack Plowright of LUMO and Simon Teagle of Go Media, aims to assist with the growth and adoption of pDOOH in New Zealand.

Gill Stewart CEO of the IAB says digital advertising in general is growing “share and relevance” as a media and the process of buying is becoming more sophisticated as brands and their media planners more effectively use data-driven, automated, and measurable digital advertising to deliver a better customer experience.

“Customer data is being gathered from multiple sources, which agencies, buyers, and brands need gather and manage effectively to shape into insights and activate to deliver effective targeted customer outcomes,” Stewart says.

“First, second and third party data can be overlayed to enable brands and buyers to target more readily their audiences with a higher degree of granularity, in a more efficient manner. It also ensures their customers receive content which is specifically tailored rather being targeted broadly using a one size fits all approach.

“Typically we are seeing Data Management Platforms (DMPs) and Customer Data Platforms (CDP’s) aggregate multiple data points, organise and activate first, second and third party data which enables businesses to gain unique insights into their customers.”

The data is gathered in a number of ways such as surveys, online tracking through websites and apps, transactional data instore and online, online marketing analytics, social media monitoring, subscription and registration as well as in-store traffic monitoring. 

This data is categorised into three types – primary, secondary, and third-party data. Primary data refers to data collected by businesses from their own audience, directly from the source while secondary data is data collected by another party and purchased from the company that originally collected it or brought in a private marketplace.

Third-party data is information gathered from multiple sources, in other words collected by companies without a direct relationship with the consumer.

“The availability of this data however, is coming to an end with the imminent deprecation of third party cookies,” Stewart says.

In terms of the benefits for advertisers using pDOOH, she says it enables a level of flexibility not possible through traditional marketing methods.

“pDOOH provides buyers improved brand control over traditional DOOH by allowing them to stop, start and optimise campaigns, in real time. pDOOH allows digital buyers to create automated rule-based targeting options that trigger both buying and scheduling workflows. Common rules encompass audience concentration, reach, time of day, weather conditions and location, from which the transaction automatically activates provided the inventory is available.”

For Go Media this data collection looks like setting a geo fence around the billboard to collect data on how many devices enter the billboards viewable area. Other physical billboard providers can use cameras to scan passing traffic in a certain catchment area and match plates with the model of the cars, collecting additional information that way.

“We can get dwell times and see how long they can clearly see our screens,” Downey says.

The longer the billboard is in place, the more information can be gathered about whose eyes are potentially looking at the spaces.

These days, when dealing with consumers data it’s important to ask how the data is gathered. Are the consumers aware their data is being collected and what does it mean for them? 

Downey says none of the data collected by Go Media is personally identifiable.

“It’s not trying to be invasive; it’s more trying to understand brand alignment where people go from a shopping, consumer point of view just to make some additional context around what an audience looks like.”

Stewart confirms there is legislation that advertisers must work with in New Zealand that come under the Privacy Act.

“To collect first person data the person must opt-in. In terms of third party data collection some websites do inform users via pop ups of their cookie collection policies. There will be cases where the user will be unaware of data collection however this data collection is should be anonymised.”

Go Media works with a data provider who gets data through a loyalty app that is approved instore.

“It’s nothing malicious and they [users]have all opted in to doing it,” says Downey. “Privacy is obviously massively important for everyone, and we try to keep ahead of that.

“It’s both familiar and quite different to what we saw in traditional media. It is an exciting time to be on the journey.”

A look to the future

The top three predicted future trends in programmatic advertising from Vinay Shriyan Mi9’s Programmatic Manager.

  1. Ability to measure the impact of advertising across various points of sale (online/offline) – More players in the industry are working towards bridging the gap between ad spend and ROI to eventually have a holistic attribution model.
  2. Increase in advertiser first party data – More brands are now focusing on collecting and harnessing their own first party data for marketing activities as opposed to just relying on vendor data as seen previously.
  3. Increased adoption towards programmatic connected TV and DOOH – Brands are getting comfortable shifting budgets from traditional TV / OOH buys to more programmatic alternatives.

About Author

Ayla Miller is a Feature Writer/Sub-editor for SCG Media Business titles, NZ Marketing, StopPress, Idealog and The Register.