From DOH! to OOH: How to Build a Successful Digital Out-of-Home Network


It’s no secret that technology has come a long way and made life easier for many media owners, but there is still no silver bullet solution for building a successful digital out-of-home (DOOH) network.

In an industry that’s still relatively young, communicating the value of DOOH to potential advertisers who are unfamiliar with the space, and determining the best pricing strategy, can be tricky.

While DOOH companies have traditionally been very successful in securing real estate partnerships, physical location is only one piece of the puzzle. Access to signage in shopping malls, office buildings, quick-service restaurants and other high-traffic areas is ideal, but networks must be capital-efficient and have the necessary media support resources in place to achieve long-term success.

Fortunately, practical solutions do exist for media owners looking to set up financially viable and technologically sound DOOH networks.

Here are some tried-and-true keys to mitigating common DOOH mistakes:

Don’t put the cart before the horse

According to Sun Tzu, preparation — even more than the battle itself — is central to victory. While we’re not fighting a war here, that holds true for DOOH as well. Luckily, business owners and entrepreneurs entering the space today have the luxury of gleaning insights about hardware, software and budgeting decisions from the attempts of previous networks that didn’t quite get off the ground. Deploying consumer-grade hardware in commercial environments, underestimating network support costs and installing too many screens at once are only a few of the common mistakes that can be avoided from the jump.

In some cases, media owners can boost their chances of launching a successful network by running ads on a small set of screens to start, then scaling as needed. Other media owners, such as those in venue types that are already seeing strong programmatic demand, might actually benefit from deploying a large number of screens initially. Nevertheless, increased reliance on programmatic marketplaces for out-of-home media will enable smaller networks to access a healthy source of demand and grow quickly while opening up immediate revenue opportunities.

Teamwork makes the dream (net)work

While it’s beneficial to have signage in high places, having friends in high places doesn’t hurt either.

Working with companies that function as true business partners gives DOOH networks the best opportunity to succeed. The collective knowledge and industry experience within these organizations often determines whether or not a DOOH network survives.

In the earlier years of DOOH, many network owners anticipated that ad agencies would come to them and purchase screen space that made the most sense for their brand. CPG companies tapping into grocery networks or liquor brands targeting bar screens would be good examples. But DOOH media executives now know that advertising sales expertise is required to unlock media budgets within the world’s largest agencies.

Ask the most successful DOOH operators: You always need to be selling to convince the most relevant brands to spend with you.

Consumer experiences are paramount to your retail strategy

As e-commerce continues to grow, so will interactive retail experiences that connect the physical and digital worlds. Digital signage will become increasingly intelligent, dynamically responding to different data models, including geospatial audience targeting, to deliver the right message at the right time.

So if retail brands wish to keep the revenue flowing, they’ll have to utilize unique DOOH opportunities such as kiosks and interactive screens that are proliferating at mass scale and penetrating across consumer-facing industries like QSR, transportation, banking and entertainment.

Touch and voice-activated interaction will serve as the cornerstones of countless transactions in the physical world, and media owners will need to adapt to capitalize on this opportunity for brands to reach target customers at the precise moment they want to engage.

Building your network to last

Many new media networks will emerge over the coming years, taking advantage of existing screen infrastructure and large-scale real estate footprints. To stay competitive and reel in the ad dollars, media owners must be nimble, timely and responsive.

Furthermore, the continued development of smart automation means more is possible, but much is expected from buyers. DOOH companies need to call upon technology to seamlessly communicate across channels, using techniques such as mass personalization to influence different audiences according to their behavioral patterns. For example, the ability to create hundreds of different creative executions for a given campaign, adjusting sometimes minute details to best connect with a given audience, and to connect with consumers’ mobile devices will go a long way in pleasing advertising partners.

Lastly, all of the tips above are for naught if a network isn’t audited by a third party. DOOH networks require thorough oversight before hosting large-scale media campaigns to ensure they can be easily bought, planned and optimized for. With this approach, leaving no stone unturned, you’ll reap the benefits and create greater efficiency and ROI for the channel.


About Author

David Weinfeld is the Sales Director for Publisher Solutions at Vistar Media. His experience spans advising Fortune 500 companies on digital signage and digital out-of-home to developing sales strategy for venture-backed startups. He has filled senior roles in sales, marketing, business development, product management, and operations where his creative skills and expertise have been leveraged in projects for a diverse range of clients including Disney, Anheuser-Busch, Buffalo Wild Wings, the Philadelphia 76ers, and many more.

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