Why Advertisers Are Giving DOOH Another Look: Q&A With Yahoo’s Stephanie Gutnik

As pandemic restrictions are lifting, consumers are finally getting the chance to explore beyond their homes.

And those in the Digital Out Of Home (DOOH) sector are breathing a sigh of relief as people return to offices, grocery stores, airports, gas stations, and other locations that haven’t seen much foot traffic lately. 

Like many advertising channels, out-of-home is dependent upon having an engaged audience. Ad spending plunged over the last two years without those eyeballs, and brands had to re-strategize their media mix.

But now, the DOOH industry is on the upswing. It’s bouncing back and is expected to come close to its pre-pandemic high with $2.58 billion in ad spending in 2022.

So, why should advertisers be giving DOOH another look when the post-pandemic world is opening up so many advertising options? We spoke with Stephanie Gutnik, Global Head of Digital Out Of Home, Yahoo, to learn more about what DOOH looks like these days, why add DOOH to a media plan, and how DOOH is handling channel newcomers like CTV.

People first. Partnership always. Performance now.

Emily Dalamangas: It is predicted that by 2025, more than two-fifths of all outdoor ad spending will go toward DOOH advertising. What do you think is driving this uptick in spending?  

Stephanie Gutnik: The first thing I tell “new to DOOH” buyers is that these are not your mother’s billboards! Our industry often lumps those old-school billboards with new-school digital displays. But that “D” in front of the “OOH” is a big differentiation factor. Digital has transformed OOH and we’ve seen it pop up in all kinds of places, from the tops of taxi cabs to our elevator rides. 

I think advertisers are putting more dollars behind DOOH advertising because they like the flexibility and dynamic content capabilities it provides. They can run nimble campaigns at scale, optimize their screen selection and creative choices throughout the flight, and extend campaigns as they leverage real-time data. 

We’re seeing that consumers are responding to DOOH. Unlike traditional OOH, digital gives consumers the ability to actively engage and have personalized experiences with brands. Yahoo recently conducted a study about the impact of DOOH on in-store shopping experiences. We found that there was a 77% likeability rating to retail digital displays and 60% of shoppers bought an item that was advertised. 

ED: Yahoo’s research shows that 54% of marketers find buying DOOH difficult, especially when it requires different contracts with multiple publishers. Why should an advertiser be thinking about adding DOOH to their media mix?

SG: Media buyers have an increasing amount of work to manage in a finite period of time, so it’s critical that emerging media like DOOH remove challenges that could prevent it from being included in a campaign plan. 

Omnichannel platforms are centralizing all of an advertiser’s needs in one place so they can streamline their campaigns across a variety of publishers. They get a full-funnel view of what is happening and can easily bring in DOOH to their media mix.

Many buyers may not realize that DOOH can be transacted programmatically. According to IAB, 67% of ad agencies say flexible buying options are key drivers for considering programmatic DOOH. Advertisers like that programmatic DOOH helps enhance their targeting and provides measurable impact. I suggest checking out Yahoo’s playbook for some helpful info on activating programmatic DOOH. 

Yahoo’s research shows that DOOH retail ads will drive shoppers to take additional actions beyond just a purchase.

ED: One of the main benefits of DOOH advertising is the ability to make it interactive, such as with QR codes. What are some creative DOOH engagement tactics that advertisers should be capitalizing on?

SG: DOOH has the unique ability to meet consumers in real-world moments where decisions are made, and actions are taken. There’s a reason QSR brands use digital billboards near their restaurants – drivers will turn at the next exit!

The same applies to CPG brands using DOOH at grocery store checkouts and gas station pumps or fashion brands benefiting from DOOH in shopping malls. Consumers welcome DOOH for its informational and entertainment value. Yahoo’s research shows that DOOH retail ads will drive shoppers to take additional actions beyond just a purchase. They’ll engage in a follow-up activity as a result of seeing the ad in the display, such as sharing a pic on social media or via word-of-mouth.

Advertisers should be taking advantage of context by optimizing dynamic content to the time of day or location, while adding a clear call to action such as a QR code, URL, hashtag, or SMS. The usage of QR codes has facilitated the seamless ability for DOOH to disseminate a message and enable measurable follow-ups, like scanning to redeem a coupon or download an app. 

ED: We’re starting to see DOOH evolve as a possible audience extension for linear TV. What are your thoughts on using DOOH advertising to complement a linear TV buy?

SG: As audiences of linear TV decline and CPMs increase, it makes sense that some media budgets are re-allocated to other mass media like DOOH or CTV. 

DOOH is a channel that plays nicely with others in the advertising sandbox. It adds that essential reach to on-the-go audiences when you incorporate it in an omnichannel media strategy. You’ll engage with those light linear TV viewers but with better cost efficiencies. 

In the past, a linear TV buy was usually done to maximize reach. But that reach was probably achieved while the consumer was sitting on their couch. With DOOH, the location targeting moves to beyond the couch. DOOH connects with consumers while they are out and about in their day-to-day lives.

Programmatic DOOH adoption may be in its nascent stage, but it is still the fastest-growing portion of OOH. It is expected to increase 31.2% in its share of all OOH from last year into 2022. 

ED: You mentioned CTV, which is top of mind for many advertisers, but they may not be associating CTV with DOOH for programmatic. Can you share your perspective on the DOOH shift towards programmatic and its impact on CTV?

SG: Programmatic DOOH adoption may be in its nascent stage, but it is still the fastest-growing portion of OOH. It is expected to increase 31.2% in its share of all OOH from last year into 2022. 

CTV and DOOH are not interchangeable, but they are absolutely complementary when it comes to engaging with audiences at scale. Like CTV, place-based DOOH displays are video-enabled and can accommodate CTV-length assets, and can sometimes include audio. But unlike CTV, these public-facing displays reach consumers who are on the go and in an active mindset. 

Programmatically, it is easy to activate the same or similar assets on CTV and video-enabled DOOH in the same user interface, with reporting and measurement ready to evaluate performance. Think of DOOH as acting as a primer for CTV, it facilitates the decoding of an ad’s message and strengthens an ad’s impact on the consumer through a thoughtful omnichannel experience that blends in-home and out-of-home contexts.