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Market Voice 25 Nov 2019 - 3 min read

Programmatic DOOH: Brand building versus performance is yesterday’s argument

By Paul Butler - Managing Director, VMO
Val Morgan Outdoor

Delivered programmatically, digital out of home combines both brand building and performance, according to VMO managing director, Paul Butler – laying to rest the industry’s latest conundrum.

Programmatic trading of digital outdoor media is tipped to go mainstream in 2020. Val Morgan Outdoor (VMO) aims to unlock the Australian market – and the early signs are that it will attract budget from marketers’ digital envelopes rather than cannibalising traditional media budgets.

First mover

While the Outdoor Media Association is taking steps to develop a robust digital OOH currency, VMO believes its investment in facial recognition technology, launched in 2014 and independently checked by PwC in 2017, can underpin a metric that enables marketers to better understand campaign reach, and harness true programmatic data and targeting capabilities.

“For the last 6 months VMO has been building out its backend digital delivery platforms and conducting in-market beta-testing with selected clients, in partnership with the main digital outdoor SSPs. Initial results are promising, says Butler.

“It’s early days but given the intense demand and interest in the sector, we are creating a specific programmatic team to develop our offering further. With over 12,000 digital screens nationally we scale very quickly and we’re forecasting programmatic will represent 5% of our VMO revenue within 12 months” says Butler.


Programmatic brand building

One of outdoor media’s key strengths is its ability to deliver mass reach and powerful brand building.  Butler says overlaying a programmatic approach adds performance marketing to its repertoire.

“The opportunity is to realise the brand building benefits of outdoor - the ability to bring new customers into the funnel and being able to buy a large slice of the population with a the click of a button. The data overlay delivers enhanced targeting opportunities for performance based campaigns.”


Creating new metrics

“If we can demonstrate to the market that they can achieve mass scale with a new level of performance, that is going to drive a lot of growth for the sector,” says Butler.

“But the missing piece is a common audience measurement metric for digital outdoor.”

The OMA is working on a common metric for the industry,  however it’s release to the market has not been confirmed. 

In its absence, VMO plans to launch its own currency, underpinned by the facial recognition technology that provides the basis for its DART (Digital Audiences in Real Time) measurement system, first launched in 2014.

“We will be able to aggregate and profile audience impressions by the hour. That means we can give clients more surety around the audiences they can buy. We’re working with a third-party research company, who will validate our data and prove we’re not just marking our homework, says Butler

“In an industry still struggling with audience metrics, it will give marketers confidence that, with VMO, they are getting robust data to support their programmatic buys” says Butler


Tapping facial recognition

While privacy concerns are crimping traditional programmatic advertising reliant on third party cookies, VMO says its facial recognition technology provides a less risky approach for marketers.

“The anonymised data is based on an algorithm that maps facial types and tracks eye movements to determine engagement and approximate age and gender – with the ability to break that down into 18 different demographic profiles,” says Butler.

We use this data to give advertisers proof of performance and verify the percentage of audience that engaged with their specific creative – and that is at spot level, not format level.”

So, if Coke ran a campaign for a week, “we could tell Coke that 50 per cent of the audience that passed the screen saw its creative, 55 per cent were male, 45 per cent were female and 12 o’clock was the highest time for viewing,” says Butler. “We could then break it down by age.” says Butler.


Eyes on the prize

Butler says VMO’s early experiences with programmatic suggest the outdoor industry has everything to gain.

“We are seeing new money come to the sector. Media agencies are bringing digital budgets across, it is not coming from traditional,” says Butler.

“It is very early days, but as we move into 2020, we’ll start to demonstrate its effectiveness for clients – and show that brand building versus performance is no longer binary. We will deliver both.”

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