What is Digital Out-of-home (DOOH) advertising?


Over the past few years, advertisement has changed beyond comprehension. The restrictions and limitations are no longer able to capture the beast of advertising, making room for thinking out-of-the-box and creativity.

What Is Out-of-Home (OOH) Advertising?

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising is traditional (i.e. non-digital and non-programmatic) outdoor advertising. Also known as out-of-home media or outdoor media, OOH advertising is about messaging to consumers when they are in public places, commuting to work, waiting (e.g. in elevators), and in specific commercial locations.

Typical OOH formats include billboards, on-car ads, bus-stop shelters, etc.

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) is basically OOH powered up with AdTech – geofencing, tracking, retargeting, personalizing, attribution and measurement.

From OOH to DOOH

So what could digital-out-of-home allow us to achieve?

Well, imagine a world where billboards dynamically display ads targeted to each individual as they’re walking past them. Imagine ads sold in real-time auctions dynamically, and displayed across the city (or country) in a matter of minutes. Imagine a world where outdoor real-time marketing is really real-time, and billboards change dynamically depending on the time of day or weather condition.

The transition may change the traditional out-of-home ad-buying process; DOOH, as opposed to OOH, reduces human intermediaries and slow, manual insertion orders. We are moving in the fast lane, driving towards a reality where machines are programmed to buy ads.

Here’s what digital OOH has in store for us.

It’s Already Happening

Considering the current state of advertising technology, the transition from OOH to DOOH is not only possible, but also inevitable from a business perspective. It’s actually already under way and gaining momentum.

International OOH providers like Clear Channel OutdoorLamar and Outfront Media are currently heavily investing in new technology to enable DOOH in the streets.

Other examples of DOOH activity include:

These examples and numbers are truly impressive, but many advertisers still know relatively little about what DOOH is and how it works.

What Is Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) Advertising?

Digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising is one of the fastest growing forms of advertising today, specifically because it is in many ways very attractive. Case in point: it is completely resilient to some of the typical problems nagging online advertising.

DOOH offers some of the advantages of the technology used in online display advertising, such as targeting and enhanced traffic data, but at the same time it is completely immune to ad blockers, and OOH ads cannot be skipped by the user.

Also, DOOH requires a certain level of creativity to grab attention – something that has decreased over time with online display ads.

What Is Possible With Digital Out-of-Home Today?

So what are the possibilities behind digital OOH?

In spite of all the challenges mentioned above, there are companies actively exploring the programmatic technology and implementing its variations in their digital out-of-home media offerings.

Here is a glimpse into some of its possibilities:


While it is not possible to precisely target the ad specifically to just a select audience of a dozen people (and not a 100 random viewers), programmatic at least gives DOOH the possibility to display the ad at times when the target audience is most likely to see it, possibly offering huge efficiency gains and better deals on media.


In digital, buyers follow cookies or device IDs to target an individual.

This is not that easy with digital OOH. Location data pulled from opted-in audiences is critical for executing advertising in DOOH – along with its planning, targeting and measurement.

Today, many OOH media sellers, buyers and vendors use mobile location data to measure DOOH media.

Tamoco, a data company that provides location-based advertising solutions, can help companies measure the effectiveness of DOOH ad campaigns by utilising a number of data points and sensors (e.g. GPS, Wi-FI, and bluetooth).

Other providers like Placed (a location-based data company currently owned by Snap, Inc., owner of the social app Snapchat) offer matching of location data of opted-in users with online advertisements and the success rate of these advertisements.

By tapping into their trove of user data, Snap, Inc. can track about 150 million devices’ activity and see how the ads displayed across all their media translate to purchases.

One of Snap’s cross-channel attribution capabilities was an early implementation of DOOH attribution. Its first working example was Snap to Store, which can attribute footfall in retail locations to ads displayed on its platform.


While targeting of ads on an individual basis is not possible with DOOH, it still allows effective mobile retargeting. For example, providers of OOH media can use geofencing, i.e. creating a virtual geographic boundary around a board using GPS or RFID technology (or both) to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves the vicinity of a board.

This way they can send retargeted, personalized messages to each consumer who walked past the board. This is not science fiction – Clear Channel has been retargeting users on mobile through its Radar program since early last year.

Radar uses aggregated and anonymous, mobile data from privacy-compliant, third-party data providers to gain insights about where specific customer segments move around the city and offer the best DOOH locations to reach them.

Higher Ad Engagement

There’s an opportunity for advertisers and agencies to capitalize on the initial opportunities offered by DOOH and use them to boost awareness and drive conversions.

Over the past decade, the engagement with online display ads has been on the decline, leading to click-through rates (CTRs) lower than 1%. This has been caused by a bombardment of online ads and given rise to software such as ad blockers and phenomenons such as banner blindness.

What’s the Future of DOOH?

The current implementations are just a glimpse of what will be possible with DOOH in the future. Operators of digital out-of-home advertising will soon try to best one another and offer the most reliable targeting and omni-channel capabilities – all made possible with technological innovation.

Posted on February 25, 2022