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Marketing strategies are as diverse as the platforms they're deployed on. In an industry where attention is the currency and measurable sales are the prized possession, certain fundamental principles stand out.

Much like the three unwavering rules of success in real estate—location, location, location—the world of digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising has its own triad of rules for success: quality, quality, quality.

People see roughly 5,000 ads per day, according to the University of Southern California. They daily navigate through a sea of information, advertisements, and distractions. So how can a brand help its DOOH campaign stand out and capture the fleeting attention of its target audience?

It can be relatively simple when an advertiser follows three guiding principles of quality.

Rule 1: High-Quality Inventory

The physical location of the screens included in your media plan is paramount for determining whether you meet the right customers at the right time along their path to purchase.

Just as the right location can make or break a retail store's fortune, the placements of DOOH screens can either captivate customers and help drive sales or repel viewers and negatively affect your reputation.

Consider a recent experience I had while traveling for work. After a day of meetings, I sat down to enjoy a burger at a local sports bar when I noticed a small tablet at the end of the table showing some ads—an "out of home" display likely labeled as "Quick Service Restaurant" for programmatic buyers. Though it's nice to see small businesses benefiting from digital ad revenue, the value that that screen's location offers advertisers is likely minimal.

Brands and agencies working directly with DOOH media owners should work with those partners to control their ad placements, ensuring their message is displayed on high-quality inventory that reaches target audiences with a purchase mindset.

But where does that leave programmatic buyers?

Programs like Vistar Verify, recently released by Vistar Media, and Place Exchange Clear certify the quality of DOOH inventory available in the programmatic marketplace. By selecting verified inventory sources for your next programmatic campaign, advertisers can feel confident that their campaign will be displayed only on premium screens.

When optimizing for high-quality inventory, advertisers should...

  • Seek media partners and certified programmatic inventory that uphold high standards of inventory quality. Doing so will help ensure their message is displayed in brand-safe environments.
  • Strategically select DOOH screens at high-traffic areas and points of decision-making, integrating message into a critical part of the purchase process. Such locations, which intercept consumers just before they enter certain spaces, can help maximize sales at those locations.

Rule 2: High-Quality Targeting

Selecting high-quality placements that support your marketing goals is a critical first step, but the importance extends beyond brand safety: The right DOOH screens offer the first layer of campaign targeting and help achieve contextual relevance.

This past summer, Yeti, the premium cooler and insulated drinkware brand, promoted the long-lasting, environmentally friendly design of its products through a smart out-of-home (OOH) campaign. The appeal of Yeti's campaign extends beyond the simple yet clever creative: The media placements of the ads were ideal.

I first saw that campaign at the beach that my family frequents every summer, and later learned sea-side placements were central to Yeti's strategy. And for good reason. By doing so, Yeti reached an audience that likely values outdoor activities and was actively thinking about how to keep things cold during a day at the shore. That's a match made in marketing heaven.

Ensuring contextual alignment between your campaign message and your media investment is the first layer of targeting. The second is far more data-driven.

Just as the leading online media platforms support audience targeting with first- and third-party data, so too does DOOH. Integrating customer data and prioritized audience segments into your next DOOH campaign will further refine your media plan, both in terms of the number of screens and the times your ads are displayed, ensuring you're only allocating spend on targeted impressions. (For as much as I enjoyed Yeti's summer campaign, the reliance on static OOH ads limited the brand's ability to effectively daypart the campaign and likely reduced the efficiency of its budget.)

Let me explain using the grocery store as an example. Media inventory at a grocery store reaches shoppers and offers consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands valuable contextual relevance. But a grocery store's customers vary significantly based on the day of week and the time of day. Those doing their shopping on a Monday morning are likely quite different from those arriving on a Thursday evening.

Digital out-of-home media partners allow advertisers to dynamically display ads only when their target audience is most likely to be shopping—for Yeti, I assume that would be more of the Thursday evening crowd. Incorporating that level of data-driven targeting, in addition to baseline contextual targeting, helps optimize campaign budgets and support the results your brand is seeking.

When embracing the principle of high-quality targeting, advertisers should...

  • Align their campaign objective and message with contextually relevant media placements. For example, CPG brands may find value in at-store inventory, automotive brands with screens in parking lots full of drivers, and apparel brands with locations at shopping malls.
  • Bring customer data and audience segments into their DOOH campaigns, just as they would with any other digital plan. Doing so would help maximize the impressions that are delivered to the exact target audience.

Rule 3: High-Quality Measurement

A truly successful DOOH campaign requires more than high-quality media screens and the right audience targeting—it needs to be measurable. Data-driven metrics allow advertisers to optimize budgets, making those metrics key to continuous improvement.

But, including measurement in your next campaign needs to be about more than checking a box; it needs to answer the right questions.

At every media conference I attend, countless buzzwords are tossed around about the newest measurement solution, and yet I many marketers still struggle with the basics.

The first question that should be answered is, "What should this campaign actually measure in order to determine success?" For example, understanding total sales sparked by a new product launch campaign is certainly interesting. But imagine how powerful it would be to also know which competitive brands you were stealing share from with your new product. That kind of insight is what gets marketing leaders invited back to the boardroom.

Keeping high-quality measurement in mind means advertisers should...

  • Consider the types of data points that would actually demonstrate success, beyond the obvious metrics, such as awareness lift and attributable sales. Then, work with your DOOH media platforms to ensure they have partners onboarded who can actually deliver those analytics.
  • Design your next DOOH campaign—the targeting and the creative—based on the data-driven insights gained from the most recent campaign.

* * *

Those three rules of quality aren't mere guidelines for your next DOOH campaign; they're imperatives for brands aiming to transcend the noise, connect with audiences, and achieve meaningful impact.

Brands must realize that in the fight for attention, haphazard strategies and subpar placements will waste valuable budget. Incorporating the quality-related tips in this article can help elevate DOOH campaigns from being simply average to truly exceptional.

More Resources on Digital Out-of-Home Media

Out-of-Home Advertising for B2B Marketing Success: Matthew O'Connor on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Six Out-of-Home Advertising Tactics to Reach B2B Audiences

How B2B Marketers Can Tap Into Out-of-Home Transit Advertising

OOH: How B2B Marketers Can Reintegrate With the Physical World

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image of Mike Schott

Mike Schott is EVP of media sales at Volta, a member of the Shell Group. He leads the company's sales organization responsible for connecting leading advertisers with Volta's digital media network embedded into EV charging stations placed in front of commercial properties and retail locations.

LinkedIn: Mike Schott