The evolution of the billboard and the dawning of a new era for OOH

This first appeared in Accord on 18th August 2020.

Over the past 15 years, outdoor advertising has experienced rapid growth and transformation since the first digital OOH screen was launched in the UK. As an industry, we’ve enthusiastically embraced digital and 2019 figures showed that 50% of all OOH revenue was digital. Advertisers are attracted to the brand-safe environment and unmatched viewability in the space as all ads are 100% viewable and unblockable.

The rise of digital has also resulted in growing demand and interest from traditional programmatic players who have started to offer their services in digital OOH. Even going so far as expanding their tech platforms into the realm of programmatic digital OOH (PrOOH). The shifting focus of these players stems from programmatic advertisers looking for an opportunity to reach and engage audiences, whilst doing so with a lower risk of encountering issues such as brand safety, privacy and accountability. Digital OOH is seen as the arena that can make this happen.

About programmatic digital OOH

Conventionally, programmatic is defined as the use of automation in the buying, selling or completion of display advertising. OOH media owners have started making some of their inventory available to online media buyers, through PrOOH. However, it is important to note that ‘planning’ in online programmatic advertising is very different to planning in OOH.  Online, it is based on hypotheses about how audiences will respond to ads and then adjusting spend to favour those strategies that perform well and deliver best value-for-money. The planning part happens mostly in-flight.

When it comes to OOH, planning is the most pivotal element. OOH media and market experts create customised campaigns to address advertisers’ business and marketing goals. Media budgets are often divided across multiple media owners because campaign goals can rarely be achieved with a single provider, environment or format type. Sometimes, OOH planning even recommends which individual ad units should be included in a media buy, based on considerations like price, quality, context and the regulations about which types of advertising messages can appear in which locations.

What Talon are doing

At Talon, we have always believed that simply re-provisioning online programmatic platforms to plan and activate digital OOH does not do the medium justice. These platforms do not yet have the capabilities to capitalise on the wealth of out of home planning expertise that enable advertisers to reach target audiences based on observed behaviours, in a simple and intuitive way. That is why we built Atlas, an intelligent, transparent and data-centric platform that does exactly that.

As one of the biggest investors in digital out of home, at Talon we have combined exclusive specialist knowledge with technological expertise to create a platform unlike anything else currently available. The platform went live earlier this month with a launch campaign from Hearts & Science and Fineco Bank that encouraged investors back into the UK market.

Through Atlas, advertisers can extend their online strategies into digital OOH through an automated end to end transaction. By connecting agencies and advertisers directly with media owners, the platform removes much of the complexity associated with online programmatic platforms, making all planning and buying transactions completely transparent.

Fueled by innovation, OOH’s future is bright

OOH is a stable medium that is well positioned to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis stronger thanks to long-standing and sustained investments in technology and data. Not only this, but it’s proven the crucial need for OOH to be agile, reactive and a channel that can quickly amplify and augment brand messages from traditional digital channels.  As a result of the pandemic, there is renewed appreciation for the power of unmissable public impact and contextual targeting. As we emerge from lockdown, Atlas is uniquely positioned to help advertisers navigate the new normal. Brands will be more reliant on data-led, streamlined and automated solutions to help them adjust and deliver campaigns that are impactful and effective in the current environment.

At Talon, we’re confident the future of OOH is bright.

Lisa Portman, Head of Marketing