A Deep Dive into Programmatic – Part III (OOH)

Out of home (OOH) programmatic advertising can seem daunting to the uninitiated – even pros occasionally make basic errors when planning an OOH ad strategy.

In part three of our five-part series of deep dives into the ins and outs of programmatic, host Chris Cesar and programmatic pro Anna Borchert venture outside and take a closer look at Out-Of-Home (OOH) advertisement in the Programmatic space.

Other Episodes in this Programmatic Digital Strategy Series

New to Programmatic? Check out our primer episode! Email us at info@GranularMarketing.com or follow us on Facebook.

What you need to know about Out-of-Home Advertising

Part three of our Programmatic Ads podcast series focuses on Out-of-Home advertising (OOH). Here, Chris and Anna discuss how OOH strategies may be better suited for certain industries than others, explore the benefits and shortcomings of this type of video advertising, and mull over other, less common channels.

Out-of-Home Advertising Topics & Timestamps

  • What is Programmatic OOH? (00:50)
  • Is OOH suited for certain industries? Examples of where to best use OOH  (02:49)
  • Ins and outs of the alternative OOH channels (04:32)
  • The less common channels (05:15)
  • The benefits of leveraging Programmatic OOH Advertisement (06:18)
  • Potential downsides of OOH Advertising (10:07)
  • The final takeaway (12:56)


Narrator: Welcome to Getting Granular, the podcast for digital marketing experts from the agency Granular talk about the latest trends, tried and true best practices and share their unfiltered thoughts about the industry. Whether you are here to learn how to grow your business, improve your digital skills, or just want to hear some Midwest PPC experts rant about digital media, you’ve come to the right place.

Chris: Thank you for tuning into the Getting Granular podcast. I am your host, Chris Caesar joined today. Once again by Anna Borchard, our director of digital media, as we continue our Programmatic Podcast Series where we will be talking about programmatic advertising via out of home. Welcome Anna.

Anna: Thanks Chris. Super excited to be back and yet to talk about another channel for programmatic.

What is Programmatic OOH?

Chris: Awesome. So I guess before we get too deep into the weeds, let’s start off with programmatic OOH, what is OOH? What does that mean?

Anna: Yeah, so OOH means out of home. So you’ll kind of see the acronym as either OOH or DOOH, which then just means digital out of home. So pretty much that’ll be any sort of screen. So digital screen, that’s not something you would consider like traditional marketing or advertising. So whether it is a digital billboard, the kind of screen on the pay screen when you’re pumping your gas, Uber now has little tops that they put on their cars so kind of like a traditional taxi cab, urban panels that you see around train stations, subway station things, et cetera. You can also have indoor screens where those would be like jukebox screens, occasionally you’ll see some stuff on rest stops, bowling alleys, et cetera. So like any screen that’s literally not your computer, your phone or your TV.

Chris: You have a very exciting personal story about one of those don’t you? You Recently saw-

Anna: Oh, one of the Uber things?

Chris: There you go.

Anna: Yeah, that was kind of exciting. So obviously in Milwaukee, we don’t have those yet. They’re newer in general, but when I was in San Francisco a couple months ago, got to see one of those. So, that was just pretty neat.

Chris: And for those of you listening, if you ever saw the excitement on Anna’s face for anything, I don’t know that I’ve seen her more excited when she saw one of these. She was so pumped to tell me about it.

Anna: It would only, would’ve been more exciting if it was my own ad. I did see one of my own billboards once when I was driving and I was with my boyfriend at the time, and I kind of like got a little squeal.

Chris: Not nerdy at all.

Anna: That’s why I’m here.

Chris: Oh, so I guess let’s dive into those real-world examples. So aside from the Uber… Wait, would you call it?

Anna: Like an Uber top, I guess.

Is OOH best suited for certain industries? What’s the best use of OOH?

Chris: Aside from that one Uber top that you saw, what are some other use case examples of these, what industries are relevant and get into some specifics about where we can best utilize these?

Anna: Yeah. So pretty much every industry can be relevant. When you think about what you see on a traditional billboard, just think about how you can digitize that. So obviously when you’re driving around, you’ll see a combination of traditional vinyl billboards and then also digital billboards. Now they can be anything from, I saw this yesterday where it was just like a blue screen that said, you are beautiful. So no actual client or industry attached to that. Whereas then you can also get hiring billboards, eCommerce to kind of like call out a store, concerts, events, everything for the most part.

Chris: So let’s pause for a second and talk about those sort of unbranded ads that say you are beautiful or whatever they have been before with like positive messaging, whatever may be on there. Is that an individual purchasing that? Is that the billboard company sort of just spreading positivity? Is there a company that’s actually behind that? Do you have an answer to that?

Anna: I don’t have an answer, but I mean, theoretically, anyone can place a digital billboard, so it could be just someone wanting to spread positivity.

Chris: That’s interesting. I wish I had the kind of money to just throw it a billboard and just spread positivity, right?

Anna: Yeah. Well, that’s one thing about digital billboards that are nice, and I think we’re going to talk more about like the specifics of pros and cons in a little bit, but they are cheaper than you’re more traditional billboard because you don’t have the production cost.

Ins and outs of the alternative OOH channels

Chris: Okay, cool. So what about the more specifics when we talk about like the juke boxes and gas stations?

Anna: Yeah. So those are going to be kind of some other channels, I guess, if you want to call it, devices, that are just additional screens. We can target people where they’re not actively searching for something, but they’re still doing something. So whether they’re going bowling, filling up their gas, obviously we all stand outside in the cold or in the heat and just stare at nothing while we’re doing our gas, so some of the gas station screens are a really good placement.

Chris: Or those two weeks in Wisconsin where the weather’s perfect and you’re also standing outside for that. Right?

The less common channels for OOH advertising

Anna: Exactly. Yeah. So those are going to be some of the ones that are really beneficial, and then there’s the less common ones which are going to be like jukebox screens, self checkouts, as I already said that Uber box top.

Chris: I was actually pretty surprised when I saw that jukeboxes were an available medium or platform that you could send ads to because, I mean, obviously I’ve seen digital jukebox before in bars and restaurants. Have you ever seen an actual ad on there? I don’t know that I ever have. Or have you placed one?

Anna: I haven’t placed one and I’m not sure I’ve seen one, I also haven’t really been to a lot of bars where there have been them.

Chris: Okay. I guess would that mean there’s less competition and would that make cost lower?

Anna: I mean there could be, but there also just seems to be less inventory for it. When I have looked at it like in a metropolitan area like Milwaukee, there’s not as many as you would seem to think as there are a lot of digital billboards, obviously, or a lot of gas stations. So it’s just lower inventory.

The benefits of leveraging Programmatic OOH Advertisements

Chris: Okay. So, I mean, it sounds like there’s a wide swath of different places we could be placing ads across digital screens out in the wild, what are some of the top benefits of leveraging these different assets?

Anna: Yeah. So I kind of mentioned it when we were talking about the digital billboard specifically, but it is going to be less expensive because you don’t need to have that printed vinyl out, which can cost sometimes $500 just to get that printed. And those only last for a couple of weeks, two months depending on what kind of vinyl they actually use. So it’s going to be less expensive because you’re really only paying for the placement. Also, not having the actual printed vinyl allows you to change your creative more so you can test it biweekly, monthly, kind of whatever schedule you want to as you do with more traditional ad channels. So, you can set up dayparting where people are driving to work. So whether it’s during the morning commute or the evening commute, you can also make sure not to have your billboards happen overnight when there’s not going to necessarily be people driving. You can also include some different kind of like case studies, so whether it’s like brand lift to see how many people remember your brand. We can also with eCommerce kind of get foot traffic back to stores because it uses device ID when people drive past. So those are the really cool things with that DOOH billboards.

Chris: So when you say foot traffic, they use device IDs, how does that work?

Anna: So it would be when you’re driving past, when you’re kind of like within a particular frame, so a little similar to like geo-fencing, which I know we’re going to talk about on one of our other podcasts, but it’ll capture the device ID for that location and then basically just catalog that. And then when you go to the store or location of the billboard, where we place that fence, you’ll see the ad or theoretically we’ll get that data back.

Chris: So does that use like my phone’s location?

Anna: Mm-hmm

Chris: Okay.

Anna: And then kind of with locations, since we’re talking about that, you can kind of do some competitor conquesting since you can like choose very specific locations for billboards. So whether that’s placements on actual digital billboards or jukebox screens or gas stations, you can choose individual boards in individual areas to maintain your budget.

Chris: So if I’m pick and save and there’s a digital billboard right next to the Meyer off the freeway, I could place a pick and save billboard there?

Anna: Yeah. So that’s done a lot in traditional billboards as well, but of course you can do dayparting. So if you know that more people are going to the grocery stores on Saturdays and Sundays, then you can make sure to just kind of like increase your budgets for that. Because with it, you get more real time reporting. So you can run a campaign for a week or two, see when you might be getting the most impressions and then adjust your dayparting based on that actual reporting, because you can see those real time impressions.

Chris: I was going to say, and then those real time impressions that goes back to the following around the phones. Is that how you would gauge impressions or how else would you be able to gauge how many impressions you got on a digital billboard?

Anna: So there’s going to be kind of two different things with impressions. There’s going to be the total number of estimated cars or people that we’ll see it during each time the ad is played.

Chris: And is that the billboard company that makes that estimate?

Anna: Yes. When you’re doing reporting you’ll say I’ve got 50 ad plays within this hour, but I might potentially have 200 impressions because during that time period an estimated blank number of people are driving past.

Potential downsides of OOH Advertising

Chris: That’s really interesting. So let’s look at some potential downsides then, what may be some reasons that I would want to avoid out of home advertising?

Anna: Yeah. So one of the positives of digital billboards is that you have the option to dayparting. However, that can also be a negative because within some of those particular time slots, so morning commute, afternoon rush, et cetera, there might be more companies or clients, however you want to phrase that, kind of vying for those same spots at the same time. So, it can just make it a little bit more expensive or can limit your reach or your ad plays during that time. Whereas traditional billboards are going to stay where you kind of have like more or less, a guaranteed amount of time that your ad will be seen.

Chris: Okay. And so it would just basically end up needing to be some sort of cost benefit analysis of would I rather be shown-

Anna: All the time.

Chris: All the time for this large number or would I rather be seen just a few times, I may save some money but I may miss some valuable impressions.

Anna: Yeah, exactly.

Chris: And then that would essentially almost come down to a cost per view or a cost per 1,000 estimated impressions.

Anna: Yeah, exactly. So that’s where CPM comes into play for that. And with CPM, there’s also going to be some boards that are more expensive than others, depending on the supplier. So companies like Clear Channel do require minimums, depending obviously on like the location, the city, those can be quite high. So that you might not be able to actually get the placement you want. So it might actually make more sense to use a traditional billboard that’s right next to that Clear Channel digital billboard.

Chris: Sure. Obviously a billboard in downtown Manhattan is going to cost one heck of a lot more than a billboard driving through Mehoopany Pennsylvania.

Anna: Exactly. So Clear Channel might have minimums for both of those that, again, might be more expensive than a traditional. And kind of talking about, did you say Iowa? No you-

Chris: I said Mehoopany Pennsylvania.

Anna: Pennsylvania, they might not even have digital billboards. So that’s another thing that you really need to pay attention to is what location you’re really trying to target. Because we have a lot of options within the Milwaukee area, but when you move into Green Bay, Northern Minnesota, there’s just not options out there. So then you’ll have to go for more of that traditional route.

Chris: Yeah. We just had that same issue where we were trying to target rural Minnesota and had some issues finding the best-

Anna: Yeah. There’s no digital billboard so we had to go the traditional route, which then again led to having to pay a little bit extra to have that printed medium.

The final takeaway – OOH helps brand recall

Chris: So to wrap things up then I guess do you want to give us just one main takeaway?

Anna: Yeah. So digital out of home really is just like an additional way to create awareness for a client when you want to hit users where they’re not searching, not just browsing Facebook, where they’re doing something more normal or just kind of like in their day to day life such as driving, pumping gas. So you can hit people when they’re least expecting it in a way kind of like CTV.

Chris: And then obviously that leads to the recall and to quote someone locally, one call that’s all. If you don’t know that you’re not in the area.

Anna: Yeah. Then kind of with other digital channels as well you can just change your creative out more often. So without having to reprint a bunch of creative on giant vinyl you can just test.

Chris: All right. Very cool. Anything else you wanted to add before we wrap things up here?

Anna: I think we got everything.

Chris: All right. Anna, thanks for joining us again today.

Anna: Thank you Chris.

Chris: Everyone else, stay tuned for the next installment of our Programmatic Podcast Series geo-fencing. Thanks for listening to the getting Granular Podcast. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any PPC tips, tricks or news in the digital marketing world. This is your host, Chris Cesar. Thanks for getting granular with us today.