Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH): Why Health and Wellness Marketers Should Be “DOOHing” It

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Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH): Why Health and Wellness Marketers Should Be “DOOHing” It


By Ciara Dundon, Associate Media Director at Greater Than One


The planning season is here, and marketers are tasked to create a media mix that will deliver the greatest business impact for brands. However, before pen is put to paper and the usual channel suspects are selected, let’s imagine a scenario where TV and digital don’t constitute the largest portions of the pie.

Ciara Dundon

In fact, this is becoming more of a reality. In the past two years, there has been a diversification in the healthcare marketing media mix, with increased investment in novel mediums, including artificial reality/artificial intelligence and voice. However, most interestingly, there has been a resurgence in more “traditional” channels such as out-of-home (OOH) advertising. Between 2016-2018, OOH advertising within consumer healthcare marketing increased from 4.5% to 39.5% (a 777% increase).

So, what caused this resurgence and why should a slice of the pie be carved out for OOH?

The increase in OOH has been through the growth of digital out-of-home (DOOH) opportunities.  A recent study from PricewaterhouseCoopers states that DOOH spending has increased 35% since 2010 and is on course to overtake traditional outdoor ad spending by 2020. Long gone are the days where OOH is considered just a static poster or billboard. DOOH has transformed the OOH space into a medium that provides a targeted, accountable and dynamic canvas to capture audiences.  

The evolution of DOOH has helped solve the lingering apprehensions healthcare marketers have on including OOH within their marketing mix.

How did this happen? Simply put, the capabilities of DOOH have disproved the perceived myths that marketers have with OOH:

Myth 1: OOH’s purpose is to target as many people as possible

Historically, OOH has been viewed as a mass-reach channel that delivers messaging to a wide universe with less of an ability to hyper-target key audiences. However, with the introduction of programmatic DOOH, data has become the cornerstone in turning this channel into an audience-first solution.  Precision targeting, through first- and third-party data integration, enables DOOH to target users based on multiple attributes, including demographics, behavior and purchase intent. This targeting expansion also makes this channel one that can zero in on as many of the right people as possible.

Myth 2: It is difficult to measure OOH’s impact

OOH is often perceived as a channel that struggles to quantify measurement impact and return-on-investment results.  However, this is not true. A 2017 Nielsen study assessing digital pull-through by channel showed that OOH delivered the highest rate of online activation per dollar of any offline media.

Accountability has increased even further with the integration of mobile measurement methods. Mobile GPS tracking enables user interaction with OOH ads to be identified and mapped to consumer actions, such as in-store purchases or website visits, helping to better measure the effectiveness of OOH.

However, with DOOH comes greater potential to measure the emotional impact of ads. With the advent of “computer vision,” an artificial intelligence whereby a computer makes observations on what it “sees,” development has been made in tracking audience’s emotional interactions with DOOH ads. This technology is certainly within its infancy, but with advances in facial recognition technology, it isn’t unreasonable to imagine that DOOH could soon report back on how a user felt when viewing an ad.

Myth 3: OOH ads are inflexible and require long lead times

OOH is known for its ability to provide a high-impact canvas for brand messaging. However, given the static nature of traditional outdoor ads, production, printing and installation needs, there is a belief that OOH is a channel that can’t action real-time updates. DOOH again challenges this thinking.

DOOH ads do not require any print or installation costs. The upload of digital ads is an automated process that is completed within minutes. With this technology, the channel has become much more adaptable. If a request arises to remove an ad or pilot a new creative, this can be done almost instantaneously.

DOOH also allows for a greater variety of content. Static billboards will be posted with the intention to remain there for weeks; however, digital ads can rotate every 6-30 seconds, allowing for fresh content to attract user attention. A recent study has shown that DOOH ads are 2.5 times more impactful than traditional static ads.

The key element to DOOH is the dynamic canvas it provides. The digital format allows for increased campaign creativity. DOOH can incorporate live data feeds so that content can be personalized to the consumer. For example, take British Airways’ “Magic of Flying” campaign, which won the Direct Category Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. Using a live data source, the campaign encouraged users to look up and view the plane overhead, while displaying the flight details and destination to the user on the billboard. The inclusion of such data feeds, social media and rich video content is all achievable within the DOOH unit, making it a powerful and imaginative vehicle for storytelling.

With DOOH, agility, optimization and creative dynamism is now a reality.

So, let’s not fall victim to the myths of OOH but embrace the imaginative, targeted and measurable opportunities that DOOH might play in transforming people’s lives through your mix. This channel is one that all health and wellness marketers should be “DOOHing.”