OOH platforms and billboards have long been lauded as the gentle giants of advertising. Generally non-intrusive in nature, when created with the right creative and messaging, they have the power to cut through the clutter and convey a brand’s messaging effectively and creatively.
However, like most aspects of the marketing industry, OOH billboards were also hit with rapid digitalisation in the 2000s. This is when large format digital OOH (DOOH) screens started making an appearance. Not long after, an entrepreneur by the name of Gerard Bucas founded Scala, the world’s very first web-based CMS for digital signage, allowing schedulers to create loop-based playlists from their desk and push content to screens without ever having to physically visit them. For almost 18 years, DOOH sales would be bought in this loop-based system.
Fast forward to today, with the advancement and rise of data and automation, programmatic advertising was born along with programmatic DOOH technology which is revolutionising the OOH medium. For leading independent programmatic DOOH ad tech company Hivestack, programmatic DOOH is seen as an addition to a traditional OOH strategy and plays an integral role in driving innovation within the industry, allowing for a shift towards audience-centric buys, which leverage various data touchpoints to reach specific audience segments on-the-go. Despite its complex technical aspects, programmatic DOOH has simplified the buying and selling process of DOOH eliminating a plethora of manual requirements.
In a conversation with Troy Yang, managing director, North Asia, Hivestack, Yang explains that as the OOH industry continues to navigate the stages of digital transformation with the rise in adoption of digital screens and new emerging tech, programmatic buying and selling of OOH inventory offers opportunities within the channel that are unparalleled.
While daunting to those unsure of the mechanics, Yang explained that the concept of programmatic DOOH is the same as its digital counterpart, where an ad is delivered to a digital screen in real-time. However, how that ad was bought, sold and/or delivered is where the main difference lies. Programmatic DOOH has automated the process of buying, selling and delivering inventory across digital screens and offers enhanced capabilities to traditional OOH and DOOH. In addition, it does something that traditional OOH and DOOH cannot and that’s audience targeting and measurement.
Moreover, the technology offers buyers more control over parameters where they can run content and the audience they are trying to reach. Advertisers can run various creatives within a campaign and change or optimise it in real-time based on external circumstances like the weather or road traffic. Programmatic DOOH also opens up unparalleled audience datasets and customisable segments which ultimately drives campaign effectiveness and overall ROI.
“Since 2020, we have seen how quickly our surroundings, our practices and our world can change. For the DOOH industry specifically, the past few years highlighted the need for agility and flexibility across OOH channels. Even more so, it brought to light the value of data and technology within this ever-changing landscape,” said Yang.
Has APAC embraced programmatic DOOH?
While Asia Pacific, with all of its diversity, presents unique challenges in laws and industry regulations, there are many opportunities, explained Yang.
In Hong Kong for example, last year the company announced the successful completion of the first programmatic DOOH campaign with cross screen integration, audience and location data targeting and mobile retargeting to Hong Kong audiences.
The campaign was for one of the biggest CPG companies and a leading global beauty brand, via their agency Starcom Hong Kong.
Leveraging innovative programmatic technology and powerful location data from Hivestack’s data partner, Vpon, a leading big data company in Asia, the cross-screen campaign built and targeted precise custom audiences.
The campaign was launched across Hong Kong out of home (OOH) media company, Asiaray, and another large outdoor media owner, utilising premium digital inventory in prime locations across the city.
Yang shared that as brands and agencies progressively adopt a programmatic approach to advertising and media buying in the region, the success of the campaign displayed a strong vote of confidence as Hivestack continues to grow its operations in North Asia.
“Through these partnerships, Hivestack is enabling international marketers to advertise and activate screens programmatically while being outside of Hong Kong and bringing their campaigns to new global audiences,” Yang shared.
Adding on to the conversation, Sally Ng, vice president of sales for Hivestack, Hong Kong & Taiwan said that the best campaign results are driven when clients are able to consider programmatic DOOH as an omni-channel medium.
“Don’t consider programmatic DOOH as a standalone medium. Rather, treat it as an omni-channel medium to merge DOOH campaigns across other channels. This will enable marketers to craft a unified strategy among devices and platforms, with people being more likely to engage with a mobile ad after seeing an OOH ad,” she added.
Moreover, Ng also added that agencies are also a crucial player in making the campaigns a success for their clients. The best agencies often come into the picture with clear parameters around data fields such as region and location, and of course the price points to ensure success for their clients’ campaigns.
“The most successful cases of running programmatic DOOH in multiple markets often leverage the use of unique features such as data triggers to ensure that the content is served at the right location, to the right audience and at the right time in multiple markets, making the most impact possible,” she added.
Chinese market opportunities
Yang added that while North Asia is notoriously tough for global adtech companies to break into, with even tech giants such as Google and Meta finding their footing, the Chinese market presents cross-border opportunities on a global scale. Increasingly, Chinese companies have also been expanding their operations outside of the region. “We’ve received briefs from partners in China to advertise in Northeast Asian markets recently, especially Japan, and we’re confident that this trend will continue,” he added.
One aspect to remember however, said Yang, is that the Chinese OOH advertising landscape has a strict focus on privacy. With this in mind, Hivestack is now working to ensure that it is providing marketers and media owners a platform that they can trust to make data-driven decisions that are privacy-compliant while serving agile, scalable, and targeted programmatic DOOH campaigns.
“This year was a huge milestone for us in which we earned ‘Level 3’ certification in China,” said Yang. This is the most authoritative information compliance certification in China, and the Level 3 guarantee is the most authoritative qualification for non-financial institutions in information compliance.
“Emphasising the safety of the platform, this qualification is a message to local businesses that we are perfectly positioned to drive brand growth through programmatic DOOH advertising campaigns,” he shared.
Meanwhile Ng also added that Hivestack has a strong global backing from the international Hivestack team and its HQ in Montreal, Canada which has been vital in its growth. This gives the firm agility to adapt, and expert global knowledge to tap into, resulting in recent successful penetration in markets such as Taiwan and Korea.
“The support of our in-market partners allows us to successfully launch our first campaigns in these strategic markets,” Ng said.
Brand safety issues
Touching on transparency concerns, which often comes hand in hand with conversations pertaining to programmatic buys, Yang said that transparency is at the heart of Hivestack’s operations - both in the way of the privacy compliant technology it operates and in its financial controls.
“Hivestack is a full-stack platform processing substantial volumes of geotemporal location data to optimise DOOH campaigns in real-time and deliver against client objectives. We are delighted to be able to prove that commitment to our clients and partners through vital SOC certifications that we have gained from the American Institute of Certified Public Accounts (AICPA) demonstrating Hivestack’s suitability in maintaining high levels of information security and risk management,” said Yang.
He added, “The programmatic DOOH industry is evolving rapidly and these certifications demonstrate that the Hivestack platform is well positioned to function in a transparent, privacy compliant and secure manner in an ever-changing digital world.”
This article was created by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE in collaboration with Hivestack.