2020 was a year of change due to the global pandemic and this went beyond adjusting to our “new normal”, but this also forced publishers, advertisers, and agencies to adjust to monumental industry changes.

Advertising, in particular, out-of-home (OOH) advertising, has been one of the industries that experienced the most drastic effects with many brands struggling to re-shape their strategies and appeal to consumers in a new way they had not operated before. Although there were many negative impacts of COVID-19, many opportunities also arose for advertisers to improve upon their traditional methods and rebuild their strategies for the constantly evolving market.

We spoke with Janne Lohvansuu, Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer of Doohlabs, an ADvendio technology partner, a leading data-driven digital out-of-home (DOOH) platform in the Nordics, where we discussed the current state of the DOOH industry following COVID-19, the introduction of programmatic DOOH along with his outlook for the future of DOOH advertising.

DoohLabs Industry Expertise

Doohlabs platform has been developed for years in the digital-out-home industries and it’s now used in thousands of locations. Clients such as retailer S-Group with more than 1,800 outlets in Finland and nordic service station chain St1 are praising them for their quality, creativity, comprehensive expertise in services, and certainty of deliveries.

The Current State of DOOH

What are some of the ways COVID-19 has impacted the DOOH industry?

Although digital out-of-home in some ways has fared better than traditional OOH in this landscape, it has still experienced many shifts and has been hit hard in general, it is fair to say that the impact has not been equal in all areas across the industry. For example, grocery retail has in fact had a record year in turnover in many countries.

In your opinion, do you feel that the pandemic has been a threat or an opportunity for the DOOH?

The overall digitalization of DOOH has not always been as swift and seamless as it could have been. This has had much to do with how the current value chains have been constructed and how different players make their revenue. I think that the pandemic has been a great catalyst in speeding up the use of disruptive digital technology and business models. So, at the end of the day, COVID-19 seems to have been more of an opportunity.

How have you seen your clients’ OOH strategies evolve since the onset of COVID-19?

In Doohlabs, we concentrate especially in developing in-store advertising automation. Our client’s OOH strategies in retail, on the whole, have moved from having a channel strategy to taking a more complete omnichannel strategy approach. In-store advertising is now seen as an integral part of retails media offering rather than a field of its own.

Programmatic DOOH & The Future of the Industry

Programmatic DOOH has come to the forefront of the industry, can you please explain, what is programmatic DOOH?

In short, programmatic DOOH is automated selling and buying of media of digital out-of-home on-screen advertising. It’s the same marketing automation that has been changing the marketing landscape most online over the past 20 years. However, the same models used in online advertising can not be applied directly to digital out-of-home. Starting from the fact that DOOH screens are for audiences, not individuals.

In your opinion what are the benefits of running DOOH programmatically?

Programmatic DOOH should, in our experience, be seen as a great additional channel for bringing more volume and more diverse advertisers for on-screen advertising. Network owners can get much better ROI (return-on-investment) from their inventory when you can balance your sales of valuable audiences with programmatic demand.

How should agencies and marketers be thinking about the role of programmatic DOOH in their campaign planning?

Programmatic is already here, it is not something that will be coming in the near future. It should be viewed as an additional way of selling and buying DOOH media. It will be used hand in hand with other automated channels. Network owners will be in key positions in building media products that are interesting and it fits well into practices of programmatic selling and buying.

What are your predictions for the out-of-home industry and specifically programmatic DOOH?

The out-of-home industry will soon get back on the track that it was before the global pandemic. It will be one of the fastest growing marketing channels. We see that especially in-store advertising will experience hyper-growth as retailers are starting to realize their potential as a valuable media for advertisers. Programmatic DOOH will be speeding the change greatly as a way to streamline buying.