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Modern OOH: how progressive adtech will transform your business

 

Jonas Glad

CEO

DoohClick

Jonas Glad

Jonas Glad

26 February . 6 min read . Opinion

© Nick Muzik

(Credit: Tractor Ourdoor)

Just some of the barriers to growth identified at WOO’s online Africa forum (held in February 2022) were a lack of standard formats, audience measurement and proof of play.

And in what is a highly fragmented marketplace, contributors called for a limit on the supply of sites with media owners working more collaboratively with councils; a reduction in council/landlord fees; and fairer advertising rates from tax compliant vendors.

It was an interesting landscape for DoohClick’s first venture outside of Europe as the chosen ad network management platform for Tractor Outdoor in South Africa.  

Going into next month’s WOO Africa forum, our message to the industry is the need to invest wisely and be more transparent. But that requires a clear understanding of how tech and automation is a win-win for everyone involved.  

The science of modern OOH

When I first started out as an OOH media owner (with AdCityMedia in Sweden), there was several obstacles holding our business back.

  • The inability to automate time consuming administrative tasks
  • Difficulty eliminating operational silos which were reliant on legacy systems
  • Overcoming the financial limitations of only selling ad space in a loop
  • Having a live overview of the how our business was performing

 

We looked around at available Saas platforms in the market, but none of them met our needs. So we decided to build our own. The decision wasn’t taken lightly and it’s been an intense learning curve. However all of those issues were resolved by building the right adtech platform.

But it’s a rapidly changing world, and like us back then, OOH owners and operators are still having a hard time choosing the right path. Many will opt for the biggest, most visible, provider, the cheapest product, or a vendor they have a personal relationship with. Ideally, all three. But mistakes can be expensive, so where do you start?

Good question. In 12 years, I haven’t seen a dependable, independent comparison of the digital signage software and DOOH platforms market. Probably because the ecosystem is relatively new, there are no standards and no clear methodology to benchmark available software or explain the OOH value chain.

There are literally hundreds of digital signage and DOOH software vendors to pick through, many of them with confusing pitches. As an OOH media operator, how do you compare them?  By feature, by functionality, by user-friendliness, by price or by reliability? 

You’re probably thinking all of the above.

A recent suggestion from one industry commentator at the ISE 2024 trade show in Barcelona that CMS platforms are “all variations on the same thing” doesn’t help.

While CMS software may appear to be “the same”, one significant point of difference is the added value / quality of client experience and customer understanding. Coupled with a development roadmap that is based on industry knowledge.

The bigger corporations might appear to be the “safer” option, but frankly, the client experience can be dull, unapproachable and inflexible. In our experience, the opposites are essential, particularly for entrepreneurial and smaller OOH media owners who are at risk of being left off the media plan or are struggling to monetize their assets. 

Ask the audience

To test the hypothesis that market confusion is holding back sector growth, we asked the South Africa industry for their views. A short survey conducted with dooh.co.za reveals the following:

  • 27% of respondents say that automating sales proposals is their biggest frustration, followed by accurate landlord reporting (18%); lack of analytics (18%); and having a live overview of the business (18%).
  • In seeking a suitable CMS / ad network platform, respondents say they expect an efficient onboarding process; a user friendly intuitive system; reliable customer service and support; a speedy response to enquiries; and a demonstrable understanding of their business – all in equal measure.
  • The majority of operators say they want more knowledge about how sales proposals can be created more efficiently (36%); more knowledge about programmatic ad sales and bookings (27%); and technical guidance about how OOH assets can be maximized (18%).
  • When asked what was the barrier to total ad revenue growth, the majority said too much fragmentation in the OOH sector (36%); followed by too much reliance on legacy systems (18%); and market confusion in the absence of a common language / standards (18%).

 

They have a point.

Brands want to be in OOH spaces where they can shine. Which means OOH operators must invest in the right hardware and technology. The quality, functionality and reliability of your inventory reflects the values of your company.

Transparency between the buyer and seller is key, and one of the reasons why more markets are moving away from the loop concept. For planners and buyers, comparing proposals is difficult if media owners are all operating different loop policies.

Where is the standard? Today’s OOH operators need to show share of voice / share of time in their proposals, plans and proof of play reporting.

Ease of planning and buying

Ease of buying was an issue frequently raised at last year’s WOO Lisbon conference with specialists pointing to how far apart the sell and buy sides remain, stunting incremental growth. No one appeared to agree on a common answer.

It’s a significant problem for South African operators and media owners in particular.

Outside of South Africa, OOH media owners and operators send out their sales pitches in their preferred formats to media buyers, planners, specialists and agencies who then integrate these proposals into their client brand planning campaigns.

In South Africa, the reverse is true. Having struggled with the fact that they need to talk to anywhere between 20 to 50 media operators to confidently plan their OOH campaigns, agencies made it mandatory for OOH media owners to provide their proposals within defined agency templates.

This move puts the onus firmly on the shoulders of the media owners. And for those without a sophisticated CMS, and those creating proposals manually, the task is overwhelming.

Having spent three months based in South Africa last year, I found that OOH media owners were expected to complete no less than 18 different agency templates, each with their own format and different fields of information and required data. 

The first thing we do when talking to clients is to identify the bottlenecks in their organisation. How are they doing things, how are they running sales? And this particular issue was frequently raised as a major obstacle.

Rising to the challenge, we developed a way to fully automate the entire process, effectively saving OOH sales teams hours. As far as we are aware, we are the only Saas provider to have introduced this functionality.

If we can develop a solution that delivers this level of functionality in minutes, rather than a sales person spending hours, or days even, working on multiple different agency proposals, imagine not only the time saved, but the ability to secure more ad bookings by going back to the agencies quickly.

Equally, if a media owner wants a presentation in their chosen format, they can now simply upload their template and DoohClick speedily populates it with the necessary data points. This is clearly something all of our clients can benefit from.

In short, choosing the right ad network management system will help OOH operators and owners save time, money and deliver more efficient sales.

On top of this, progressive tech stacks are loaded with audience insights along with the ability to manage and connect inventory to demand side platforms, supply side platforms and ad servers to allow more targeted campaign planning and instant delivery to the right audiences and environments.

What’s more, the right platform can be configured for each individual user, team or division within the business, providing access to the sort of real time information needed to trade, operate and report.

This level of access and functionality is eliminating current and potential gridlocks which are unnecessarily holding back business performance, putting OOH media owners on the right growth trajectory.

The marriage of adtech and OOH

 As we prepare to meet at WOO Africa, it will be interesting to see how far the OOH industry has come in the past two years. But from an adtech point of view, we can safely say that the narrative has changed.

To find out more, meet us in Cape Town from March 10 to March 14, or email mark.b@doohclick.com to organise a meeting.

Jonas co-founded DoohClick in 2019 after the Swedish owned proprietary ad platform was demerged from NASDAQ listed AdCityMedia. Originally developed over a 10 year period and previously operated as StarCorp, DoohClick provides global media owners with real time ad serving ecosystems which facilitate complete sales support, dynamic scheduling, improved analysis and fast reporting.

Prior to the formation of DoohClick, Jonas was chief operating officer of AdCityMedia AB. Having started his career there in sales, Jonas was instrumental in using the company’s progressive digital software to expand its acquisition trail, leading to its NASDAQ listing in 2017.

 
Under his leadership, DoohClick is now a fully independent company providing new business opportunities and updating legacy OOH systems across 11 markets.

It is Jonas’s vision to incubate an international network of like-minded collaborators under the auspices of DoohClick to introduce improved, common standards and support new and emerging technology across the OOH sector.