OOH Executive Insights: Maarten Dollevoet on how DOOH sales models are evolving

April 4, 2023Maarten Dollevoet

In this instalment of our OOH Executive Insights series, Broadsign’s Chief Revenue Officer, Maarten Dollevoet, discusses the ongoing changes to how out-of-home (OOH) media is bought and sold, the resources and tools media owners need to adopt to support these changes, and Broadsign’s role in shaping the conversation around how OOH should be traded moving forward.

The economic uncertainty brought on by COVID-19 significantly accelerated an ongoing shift in how digital out-of-home (DOOH) was being bought and sold. Faced with tighter budgets, media buyers were no longer able to meet the large upfront annual commitments and were looking for greater flexibility.

To ensure ad dollars were being spent effectively, media buyers needed a solution that provided them with the flexibility to activate and pause campaigns at a moment’s notice and advanced targeting capabilities to reach only the most relevant audiences. As we continue to recover from the lasting impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, I’d like to leave you with some thoughts on the importance of adopting a more flexible and audience-based approach to selling DOOH, along with the steps media owners should take now to better adapt to this new selling environment.

Why the pandemic sped up the adoption of programmatic DOOH

The need for flexibility during and post-pandemic accelerated the adoption of programmatic digital out-of-home (pDOOH). It provided media buyers with greater flexibility on how to spend ad dollars, adjust, and even pause ongoing campaigns. Furthermore, OOH demand-side platforms (DSP) have pre-integrated demographic, moment-based and location-based targeting capabilities, allowing them to create hyper-targeted audience-based campaigns.

For media owners, enabling programmatic transactions created new revenue opportunities as it opened up their network to new budgets from advertisers that traditionally purchased ad space online. By being able to sell both through programmatic and direct sales channels, media owners had more flexibility in how to sell their inventory as well as optimize fill rates. Space that was not being filled through direct guaranteed sales could now be bought programmatically, optimizing screen fill rates. 

Despite the steady uptick in pDOOH adoption, direct sales still represent over 85% of all DOOH ad spending. As buyers have come to appreciate the flexibility that pDOOH delivers, It will be crucial for media owners to evolve their direct sales channels to support flexible selling and shift to an audience-based approach to remain competitive in today’s selling landscape. However, the switch to this new selling environment won’t happen overnight, nor is it entirely up to the media owner to bear full responsibility for this change. Instead, it’s up to all players in the industry to move this trend forward, including technology partners that play a role in educating both media owners and buyers on how flexible and audience-based selling models can help them reach their respective business objectives.

How direct DOOH sale models are evolving

While direct DOOH sales have traditionally been restrictive for both media buyers and media owners, the technological advancements made in recent years have enabled media owners to provide more flexibility and audience-based buying to customers. A common way media owners achieve this in direct sales is by offering alternatives to frequency-based campaign types. A campaign type determines how an ad campaign is distributed across a set of screens. 

Flexible campaign types enable media owners to offer customers more choices, allowing them to meet customer objectives more easily, without the operational headache of executing these campaigns. This allows media owners to effortlessly deliver frequency-based and takeover campaigns while delivering flexible campaigns, such as impression or budget-based campaigns, at the same time – something that wasn’t possible before. 

For media owners who want to modernize their direct sales strategy, we now have ad servers that provide them with sophisticated targeting tools to plan, execute and monitor contextual digital campaigns that are delivered in real time. Complimenting existing direct selling tools, an ad server allows media owners to set fixed campaign objectives and targeting requirements to quickly close deals, while booked campaigns are dynamically served based on real-time contextual triggers. The emergence of added flexibility and better targeting tools for media owners enables them to meet their guaranteed commitments while opening up their network to respond to incoming lucrative opportunities, optimizing screen fill rates. 

Data and optimization will be key to the success of audience-based campaigns

Data will be fundamental to media owners’ success in audience-based campaigns. As the industry continues to shift towards an audience-based buying environment, it will be key for technology providers to further develop media owners’ targeting capabilities and provide reliable and accurate data on potential impressions and demographics. 

With a more agile selling environment, new tools are required to help media owners simplify campaign planning and management. An optimization engine with sophisticated algorithms is required to automate the scheduling and management of flexible campaign types and campaigns that are dynamically delivered based on real-time contextual triggers or audience data. Moreover, with self-healing capabilities, you can ensure that your campaigns are never under or over-delivering, helping your customers stay on target and on budget. 

While media owners still have significant headway to make toward the successful adoption of audience-based buying, those who choose to adapt their businesses today will gain a competitive edge on the new norm in selling DOOH. At Broadsign, we’ve supported our media owners by helping them adopt a flexible and targeted selling model, whether it was by entirely overhauling their selling environment or simply adapting how they currently operate. 

In recent years, we’ve made significant advancements in automating direct sales with our ad-serving solutions. Media owners have the ability to offer guaranteed and non-guaranteed contextual campaigns while also benefiting from our optimization engine that readily provides them with the best decisions on simplifying campaign booking and management. As we continue to advance our solutions to help media owners unify their programmatic and direct sales, our goal is to further enhance our optimization capabilities to determine, in real-time, which ad to play while still being able to deliver on guaranteed commitments, in order to maximize yield for the media owner.