Best Practice, Transparency, and Measurement to Define Digital OOH In 2020

2019 delivered a great deal of progress in the way of industry standardization, measurement, and transparency for digital OOH. It started with wide-scale industry collaboration and the production of the digital OOH Primer. It is a comprehensive set of best practices published by five leading industry trade groups.

The digital OOH Primer provided a framework for consistent proof of play standards. This can be used globally to support all the stakeholders involved in the digital OOH marketplace. For digital OOH to continue to grow and establish itself as a significant voice in the digital conversation, the digital OOH Primer addresses the need to be programmatic ready with automated, independent, transparent reporting.

Campaign delivery and reporting in OOH has always been a cumbersome task. Thanks to the fast growth of multiple networks by multiple vendors, a diverse landscape of technologies, infrastructure and operating systems has emerged. The current situation for self-generated proof of performance is just as variable, ranging from completely manual reporting methods, through to fully-automated and transparent reporting, with all the levels in between.

Although we are just at the beginning of the journey, AdTech platforms are already starting to plug the gap and provide third-party verification and reporting across this complex ecosystem. Continued growth, alongside Advertiser demand for transparency, continue to be a catalyst for change and evolution in reporting standards for OOH.

In September this year, the UK OOH industry came together to launch a national digital OOH campaign to help find Missing People. A similar campaign ran in the U.S. for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), where individual appeals were geo-targeted to the area the person went missing from. What made the UK campaign different was the use of AdTech to track the activity, with real-time, proof of play metrics across multiple networks and a media first for the market.

PlayTrack connected and standardized metrics from across all five UK media owners giving the charity full visibility of exactly what played where and when, down to an individual panel level, to help determine media performance. It’s not just the advertisers like P&G and Unilever pushing for this level of transparency. Leading agencies, outdoor specialists and publishers also expect this level of reporting for more complex and large-scale bookings.

In the UK, leading OOH specialist Talon, quickly recognized the need for this level of reporting to evaluate campaign effectiveness and ROI. Aggregation at this scale means that agencies can access all their campaign delivery data in a single place, and this data can be made available to all stakeholders involved in each campaign.

In the U.S. we are seeing a different business model emerge, whereby OOH publishers such as Verizon Media are onboarding PlayTrack technology directly. Early adopters are recognizing that the future growth potential of the sector, and of digital OOH, in particular, is dependent on buyers being confident that they are getting what they booked, with connected, real-time, data.

In 2020, campaign metrics will continue to become even more important. As more and more digital OOH operators adopt a single independent source of measurement, the easier it is to buy and analyze campaigns across multiple publishers using a common language. At this point, media-buying organizations can start to treat digital OOH as an extension of a holistic, strategic, Omnichannel Marketing plan.

Real-time campaign reporting from third-party verification platforms also enables advertisers to assess campaign success and optimize creative on the go. Add to this the high-profile advancements in the testing of programmatic platforms for automated media trading that have continued apace, and we can see 2020 shaping up to be a stellar year for the industry, in terms of connecting real programmatic media to programmatic creative.


Overall, there has been significant progress in the use of third-party campaign verification platforms and massive steps forward in industry collaboration and standards. We believe this type of independently verified proof of play data will be a catalyst for the future growth of OOH advertising, especially when it’s available at scale. Unified programmatic planning and creative optimization is the end goal, where Planning, Buying, Distribution, Playback, and Reporting are programmatically achieved using real-time audience information and data insight to drive the decision-making process.