What Does the Future of OOH Look Like for Programmatic, Technology & Creativity?

With much of the uncertainty surrounding the OOH industry in 2020, it was very refreshing to listen to some of the industry’s key players brought together for last week’s MediaTel conference – The Future of OOH. Although we weren’t able to network as we would normally, the event was key to understanding how our industry as a whole will move forward post COVID-19.

From the Talon Group, we contributed with three of our own key players, Emily Hyne, Dan Dawson and Sophie Pemberton, focusing on the channel’s renaissance around the future of data, automation and creativity. Whilst there is more on the event here, our contributions highlighted the potential for change and transformation in the industry and a real opportunity for leadership in the media landscape.

The role of specialists in a brave new world 

Here, Talon’s Group Strategy Director, Sophie Pemberton, was joined by Gill Huber from Posterscope and Kinetic’s Nicole Lonsdale. The session addressed the role and contribution of specialist OOH agencies, with the panellists stressing the complexity of planning OOH campaigns, particularly around the use of audience data. Sophie Pemberton highlighted the importance of understanding consumer mindsets and the range of activities they may be doing when they see OOH. Whilst Nicole Lonsdale pointed out that with audiences more connected than ever, OOH is a key driver of online behaviour. The specialist resource can bring the level of expertise and resource – including data – to offer the best planning solution to fit the brief.

With more heavily invested advancements in technology, audiences and inventory than ever before, Pemberton added that specialists like Talon were keeping ahead of the market to maintain quality control. “We need to make sure that we’re not just using any data, but the right data; not all data is created equal.” 

Programmatic OOH was a theme of the day, with the panel stressing any advances are very much in its infancy, although the current climate means we’re likely to accelerate much faster towards automation in OOH. Lonsdale referenced three core benefits, around efficient audience targeting, allowing DOOH to become part of the wider digital ecosystem and a more agile deployment, while Pemberton focused on the role of data and the relevance of the specialist to implement change.

More important, said Pemberton, is that when the right data is applied to OOH, campaign benchmarks can exceed themselves significantly. “Through Ada, we’ve seen benchmarks surpassed by over 50% for consideration and purchase intent. The value of automation and the data advancements is there, but we need to be sure we’re using the right data and interrogating it properly.” Gill Huber echoed the panel that programmatic isn’t necessarily a clear route for OOH, which has all of the tools vital for brand safety.

In terms of the what the next year looks like, Pemberton referenced Ada and other data showing audiences returning to OOH. “We’ve seen extreme ends of the spectrum in 2020, from total lockdown to audiences emerging back outdoors. The next 12 months will be essential for clients to get their campaign strategies right and make sure that their OOH campaigns are contextual to fit with the change in audience behaviours.” With data changing constantly, specialists have a crucial role for brands and agencies, as genuine partners, to create effective targeting strategies by interrogating the data in the right way.

With no direct return to normal, expertise and a real understanding of the OOH sector is vital to exploit the real capabilities of OOH, with its broad offering and agile digital OOH channel, to help brands build trust and with the flexibility and agility of DOOH as well.

Getting the best from creativity in OOH


A session focused on the importance of creativity referenced panelists’ favourite campaign, with Talon Business Director Emily Hyne choosing multiple-format campaign for Virgin Media, ‘Unlimiting.’ Its smart, data-led approach using Talon’s intelligent planning platform Ada, physically broke the boundaries of traditional advertising spaces, making the campaign truly ‘unlimited.’ It used vinyl wraps to dominate travel hub spaces, as well as high footfall locations surrounding traditional OOH spaces.

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Dan Dawson, Chief Creative Officer at Grand Visual chose the recent #SendingLove campaign, executed during lockdown. What started as an idea to collaborate during difficult times transformed to become the world’s largest UGC OOH campaign to date. Dawson loved its ability to send love to places people were unable to visit, adding that people love to see themselves on billboards and they become ambassadors for the campaign. UGC will be more popular trend in future as it really gets a brand in the hands of consumers and creates a truly memorable moment.

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Publicis Media’s OOH Group Director Curtis Weir selected TENA’s empowering campaign that dominated Oxford Street. His reasons for choosing the campaign was the way that it harnessed OOH’s power to reposition a brand and change public perceptions. The campaign celebrated real people in its creative within real OOH spaces. He added, the best campaigns he’s worked on never had a brief and urged greater collaboration and bravery from agencies and clients.

On OOH driving a different type of creativity, Dan Dawson kicked off with the fact that OOH is an ad medium you can’t skip or block and there is an industry responsibility aligned to being in the public domain and to ensure the content we create is appropriate for all audiences. Weir agreed adding that OOH puts a brand on show and makes consumers reconsider their purchase journeys. He said OOH is a mirror that reflects society and space it is in. We see large numbers of people taking photos of advertising that resonates or even offends them. This was backed up by Dawson who touched upon the trend of smaller advertisers branching into OOH and loving it. Once their campaign is on a billboard, it becomes real and physical, not like anything online or virtual.

The session also addressed how advancements in technology have transformed creativity in OOH. The biggest transformation for Emily Hyne was how these advancements have changed the way that we plan Out of Home. In particular Ada, our intelligent data platform enables us to use unique audience insight into real travel behaviours, which is then used to hyper-focus our campaigns to locations seen more frequently by particular targets.

Both Hyne and Weir showed that technology has enabled us to be more creative in delivering the right message, becoming more contextually creativity. 

Although the advancements we expected to see in programmatic, technology and creativity hasn’t been at the forefront of our minds for the majority of 2020, the OOH industry has stepped up in any other way that it could. This has helped us to remain stronger, smarter and even more collaborative than we ever were before the pandemic. We’ve learned to understand our audiences better,reimagine how we apply data and to become more adaptable and imaginative when it comes to creativity. This has put the industry in good stead for growth towards the end of 2020, moving into the beginning of 2021.

By Charlotte Jones, Digital Marketing Executive