Real-time DOOH 10

Unlocking the Value of Real-time DOOH

About this report

This report has been published following qualitative and quantitative research conducted by Posterscope into real-time out-of-home (OOH) capabilities and understanding.

‘Real-time’ advertising provides the ability to automatically activate and / or update advertising using live data or content. It has become an area of increasing interest for the OOH industry and advertisers as access to data and digital out-of-home (DOOH) inventory has become more prevalent.

Posterscope held a roundtable with industry leaders – including 20th Century Fox, British Gas (Hive Active Heating), Microsoft, Movember, Doddle, Clear Channel, Ocean Outdoor, AOL, Trigger Buzz, M&C Saatchi, Starcom MediaVest Group and Dentsu Aegis Network – to understand the challenges the industry faces in realising DOOH’s real-time potential.

Posterscope also surveyed more than 100 UK marketing leaders to determine current attitudes towards real-time in DOOH
campaigns and industry readiness for adoption.

Key findings

p21. A gap exists between the desires of advertisers and the ease and costefficiency with which real-time OOH can be applied at scale. This gap must be closed if the true potential of the medium is to be unlocked

2. There is a need to educate and inspire creative teams in agencies so they have a better understanding of the full real-time capabilities of DOOH campaigns

3. To fulfil strong advertiser demand for real-time DOOH campaigns, media owners must work with the industry to deliver flexible models that fit advertiser requirements

4. Better communication and insight is required around the benefits of real-time, what it can do for brands and agencies and how it can create a compelling OOH experience for consumers


Real-time DOOH offers advertisers enormous potential, but the industry faces a number of barriers that must be overcome to fully realise it. Within a relatively short amount of time the growth of DOOH as a component of overall OOH has been phenomenal. DOOH now accounts for 28 per cent of out-of-home spend (OMC Q3 figures).

Delivering 4bn impressions every two weeks (source: Route + Posterscope estimates), the market in 2014 alone was worth around £250m (OMC forecasts). Posterscope estimates that this could be up to £500m in five years.

There are many dynamics driving this growth and one of the most transformative will be the changing level of consumer expectation. People now expect ads to be clever, to be connected to the world around them and to demonstrate something that’s worthy of holding their attention.

This is building a palpable appetite among both consumers and brands for real-time content and activation to be incorporated into DOOH campaigns. However, brands, agencies and media owners must overcome several challenges before they can start reaping the full benefits of real-time.

Digital out-of-home offers advertisers one of the most targeted and powerful ways of reaching consumers that is currently available. It can also be made to work much harder however, by delivering content in real-time, or more specifically, in ‘right-time’. This allows you to deliver exactly the right marketing message to the right individual at exactly the right time.”
Glen Wilson
Managing Director, Posterscope

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Embracing digital and ‘real-time’

Many marketers now recognise the need for advertising to be executed in ‘real-time’. The rise of such approaches as branded online newsrooms as a means to quickly communicate valuable and relevant branded content signifies that advertisers are now preparing to become much more agile in the digital space.

The rise and rise of data

One of the fundamental drivers of realtime has been the increasing volume and accessibility of data. Today’s constantly connected, ‘always on’ consumers generate huge amounts of data. This will be driven further by the rise of emerging technologies like wearables, which are predicted to hit 112m shipments worldwide in 2018 (International Data Corporation).

“Last year at Movember, we employed a newsroom approach for the first time, and user-generated outdoor digital content fitted into that really well. I don’t think it requires huge resources. You have to work like that for social media anyway, so once you’ve got the mindset of looking at what’s current and what people are really after today or ‘right-time’ then you might as well be looking at digital outdoor anyway.”
Zaid Al-Qaasab
CMO of Housetrip and Advisor to Movember

How we leverage this data is critical, and progressive businesses are developing the tools to enable companies to manipulate and understand it to inform their OOH planning and strategies.

“Using real-time data lets us do and say interesting things in original and compelling ways. It gives me as an advertiser the chance to establish a personal connection with a customer. I can pull in real-time data like travel and temperature information and present that to the customer in an ad that resonates in a meaningful and contextually relevant way.”
Paul Grosvenor
Senior Marketing Manager, Hive Active Heating by British Gas

Research reveals brand appetite for real-time

A recent survey conducted by Posterscope has revealed significant demand from media owners, digital agencies, creative agencies and brands for real-time digital delivery within OOH campaigns. Although there is clear recognition of the potential of DOOH, the report also highlights that relatively few campaigns have been delivered in this way, due to a variety of challenges.


If the industry can rise to these challenges, an enormous amount of advertising value can be created, both in terms of efficiency (buying the right thing in precisely the right place and at the right time) but also in terms of overall marketing effectiveness. It will also create engaging, rich and compelling consumer experiences.

DOOH as a medium is ideally positioned to unlock and take advantage of the opportunities within this real-time mix by being much more dynamic in activation and delivering real-time content – but key challenges exist that must be addressed to realise the full scale of these opportunities.

“Posterscope estimates that in 2015 media owners will invest more than £75 million in digital infrastructure. This creates an almost infinite amount of possibilities to talk to people in the right place, but also at the precise time that you want to do so – and with real scale. However, this creates a huge amount of complexity because literally every second of that digital airtime is theoretically addressable. A fundamental challenge is to make it as easy as possible to unlock those customer moments.”
Glen Wilson
Managing Director, Posterscope

Challenge 1: The scalability / agility gap

In spite of the vast reach of DOOH inventory, common industry consensus is that DOOH activation lacks the simplicity to deliver real-time at scale.

Although research shows that people are 50 per cent more likely to remember a real-time ad on DOOH, (OCS* 2014 – Posterscope’s out-of-home consumer insight research survey), few advertisers feel able to capitalise on this.

Real-time DOOH has the potential to deliver both an increase in advertising efficiency and effectiveness, but at this stage the necessary standardisation of systems does not exist across the industry to provide the scale, consistency and agility to fully deliver on this promise.

From the agency perspective, this lack of agility is responsible for significant media value ‘falling between the cracks’. To solve the gap between clients’ desires for the activation of their real-time OOH, the industry needs to commit to consistent standards and accessible technology to deliver real-time scale.

To solve the gap between clients’ desires for the activation of their real-time OOH, the industry needs to commit to consistent standards and accessible technology to deliver real-time scale.


“The interesting conversation we’re having is around requests to buy media flexibly. Clients want to buy media in a different way, with their two weeks starting on a Wednesday instead of Thursday for instance. We haven’t got people to really change the way in which they engage with the medium and I think we need to. It is early days however, and that is only one of many of the first examples of the potential for flexible buying.”
Andrew Morley
CEO, Clear Channel

Challenge 2: Creative block on real-time capabilities

Despite the capabilities of real-time DOOH, creative teams don’t currently have a full understanding of what they’re able to do, which means real-time isn’t factored into the creative process.

The knowledge gap in the creative community is one of the challenges that needs to be overcome. There is a need to educate and inspire creative teams in agencies so they have a better understanding of the full capabilities within real-time DOOH.

There is no doubt that if they have a better understanding of what kind of data is available and how it can be used, creative
agencies will develop campaigns that capitalise on real-time.

As creative teams produce real-time campaigns that make full use of the technology’s capabilities they will in turn excite clients about the medium’s possibilities. As a result, clients will be more willing to develop these ideas – provided the output can be delivered at a
reasonable cost.

To solve this challenge media owners and agencies must do more to educate the creative community on the full capabilities of real-time DOOH.standards and accessible technology to deliver real-time scale.

“The knowledge gap exists between creative departments and media owners on what is and isn’t possible. Having worked for 10 years in a digital agency, it’s clear that even the best creative teams are unaware of the latest DOOH capabilities. We need creative departments who are as au fait with what the possibilities are, as they are with other channels. When this happens, it will open the door and clients will, whether they like it or not, receive a flood of different ways of dramatizing their brands using this new technology.“
Tom Bazeley
M&C Saatchi

Challenge 3: Targeting models don’t fit real-time demand

Whilst suited to traditional campaigns, old targeting models and buying criteria are preventing OOH advertisers from making the most of the realtime opportunity.

Real-time DOOH is the advertising medium that can most effectively achieve the ultimate marketing objective of getting the right marketing message to the right audience at the right time.

To achieve this, the industry needs to revisit its targeting criteria and move towards audiences and behaviours. With the data now available, real-time can enable marketers to target audiences using more variables than ever before, including such criteria as time of day, weather data and transport information.

Using data like this, brands can ensure campaigns use real-time technology to deliver ‘right-time’ ads – delivering content that is simultaneously real-time and righttime.

Another key issue is the way that DOOH has been historically traded in units of time, across 2 weeks, 1 week, 1 day or an evening commute, for example. This means that managing DOOH inventory has become increasingly complex and will require a new approach to manage it beyond manual planning.

“Tapping into the right audience is key because people’s expectations are rising quickly, and outpacing the rate of innovation in DOOH. Looking at my target audience, they’re tech savvy, in the 30-55 demographic and affluent. They expect connection to all devices and their whole life to be synced. If they see an ad that isn’t clever or doesn’t reflect something interesting and innovative we probably won’t connect with them in the way that making full use of this medium will. Ultimately we need to establish a partnership with the consumer, to let their interests and behaviour lead us into new and interesting areas and to use the technology we have at our fingertips to deliver something that not only meets their expectations, but exceeds them.”
Paul Grosvenor
Senior Marketing Manager, Hive Active Heating by British Gas

p9“One thing that I think that’s really interesting for the OOH media owners is you can easily get lost in investing in technology and thinking about the infrastructure. The more you can orientate to target audiences and the customer’s journey, be it a parent’s journey to retail or a technically savvy person’s journey to work, the better. I think the customer journey is the opportunity for the OOH industry that will draw in creative and media agencies to want to use OOH. When thinking about your next investment, that’s key for me.”
Tara Powadiuk
Global Media Partnership Lead, Microsoft

With any given piece of creative, brands must consider when is exactly the right time to deliver an ad.

Delivery then becomes about relevance, rather than having to produce something within specific timeframes. In this way, real-time DOOH offers the potential to find people based on what they do and where they go.

To overcome this challenge, media owners need to provide more flexible buying models to allow advertisers to reach their target audience exactly when and where they need to.

“When you start to talk about right-time, you’re saying ‘I can use data to understand the right time to push out a pre-defined message, and you might have an expanded matrix of predefined creative. Ultimately you’re just looking at a more flexible way of saying ‘How can we become more relevant? How can we make sure the right message is served to the right audience at the right time? I think that’s just about having more flexibility and developing creative that can be served at that right moment in time.”
Stephen Wise
Founder, Trigger Buzz

Challenge 4: Lack of awareness of the benefits

Posterscope estimates that currently less than 5 per cent of spend on DOOH incorporates a real-time component and this is largely due to a disconnect between client understanding and what real-time DOOH can currently offer.

With huge potential for real-time DOOH, there is still low awareness amongst those who could benefit from its capabilities. The industry has work to do in adopting a collective view on how to articulate and convey the full benefits of real-time DOOH.

Rather than a showcasing exercise, this must be achieved in a way that highlights how real-time DOOH can be used at scale and can use precision and relevancy to reach consumers at a particular location and point in time.

To overcome this challenge the industry needs to improve communication to praise the benefits of real-time, what it can do for brands and agencies and how it can create unforgettable OOH experiences for consumers.

“The industry is not selling the benefit hard enough – that’s the truth and the challenge. There’s a lot of talk about how much is invested, but we need to talk about why it has been invested, what in and why that is relevant. We spend a lot of time in our sector talking about products rather than talking about the benefits of the products, and to a degree that’s why there is a low-level of awareness.”
Tim Bleakley
CEO, Ocean Outdoor



Posterscope’s research has revealed vast untapped demand and audience potential for real-time DOOH campaigns.

  • 61 per cent of marketers say they want real-time in their DOOH campaigns
  • An additional 47 per cent believe it would make their brand’s DOOH advertising more effective.

To take advantage of its full potential the industry needs to start working on overcoming and addressing the challenges outlined in this report. Once it does so, real-time DOOH can become the effective, efficient and transformative technology it promises to be.


“The industry must start talking more confidently and positively about what this medium can achieve. This involves collaborating in order to move forward – acknowledging that although it’s starting to happen, we need to collectively address how to scale and accelerate the pace of change and how to get creative teams to adapt. OOH agencies have a central role in making this happen by providing the consultancy to realise the opportunity.”
Tracy de Groose
CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network

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