Automating The Great Outdoors: Rick Mulia, MD JAPAC For Rubicon Project

Automating The Great Outdoors: Rick Mulia, MD JAPAC For Rubicon Project

In advertising, we’re obsessed with being everywhere at once – achieving ‘cut through’ with high impact creative that captures the imagination. Nowhere is this clearer to see than in outdoor, and in this opinion piece, Rubicon Project MD JAPAC Rick Mulia talks us through the advertising giant.

Figures from the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) indicate that Australian brands spent more than $600million on OOH – more than five per cent of total ad spend in Australia and that share is growing.

In fact, OOH is the second fastest growing ad medium globally after mobile, based on average consumer exposure (PQ Media). Here APN Outdoor and oOh! Media have both seen their share prices rise sharply in the last 18 months. Clearly OOH is alive and well, with lots of strengths.

Yet automation, which has made big strides in most of the ad industry over the last couple of years, has yet to really take hold in the outdoor space. Instead, ad inventory is generally traded using traditional manual processes.

That could be changing. The most significant development in outdoor media over recent years has been the proliferation of digital displays. In 2014 (the latest figures from the OMA) 19 per cent of OOH revenue was digital. It’s likely to be higher now.

In the UK it’s well over a quarter, even though digital screens account for less than eight per cent of the sites. Digitisation clearly brings much higher yields.

From OOH to All Media

The rise of digital OOH brings the opportunity for automation. The benefits are already tried and tested formula in other media – smarter UI and more efficient workflow, as well the ability to laser target campaigns based on data.

In the next few years expect to see OOH come in from the cold as it too becomes automated and integrated into establishing trading platforms. The arrival of Net-worxs in Australia, Bitposter in the UK, and AdSpace and Captivate in the US are making this outcome closer to reality.

The outcome will be the same network effect we’ve already seen across desktop, mobile and video. Where previously OOH would be booked by the week, in future it will be by the hour.

As the medium becomes increasingly digitised ads will be targeted using a wide range of data, such as weather, time of day, location, and people will be able to engage with content using smartphones and near-field communication.

Part of the natural scheme of things

It’s inevitable that OOH, through digitisation, will join the rest of the advertising ecosystem in embracing automation. Outdoor’s strength has always been its ability to complement campaigns on TV and online – and planners will expect to be able to book cross-media campaigns that include digital OOH.

The introduction of automation will also free up time for higher value creative projects – ones that can change quickly as data is used to track effectiveness.

In an industry obsessed with media firsts, I for one will be looking out for the first fully integrated automated campaign – one that includes the great outdoors. After all, OOH is automation’s last great frontier, and it’s ready to be conquered.


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