Has OOH Found Its Home Further Down the Funnel? | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

Has OOH Found Its Home Further Down the Funnel?


The world of advertising, if imagined as a spectrum, can be visualized as stretching from mass broadcast to individual communication, from passive consumption to interruption, and from non-measurable awareness campaigns to highly measurable conversion-driven tactics.

Traditionally, out-of-home (OOH) media, TV, and radio took their place on the left, characterized by broad reach and passive experience, while the right was dominated by CPA ad networks buying display and mobile, marked by granular targeting and transactional immediacy.

Over time, the functions on the left side of the spectrum have evolved in ways that allow the channels to operate across a broader range of the spectrum, whereas the functions on the right have not been able to move toward the middle. OOH, in particular, has transformed itself from a purely top-of-the-funnel medium to one that occupies a broader swath of the marketing journey.

What triggered this evolution? Technology and adaptability.

Technological advances in the OOH sector have enhanced its capabilities, pushing it further into the spectrum of digital out-of-home (DOOH):

  • Audience Targeting – DOOH platforms are now able to incorporate audience targeting features, enabling advertisers to reach specific demographics based on location, time of day and other parameters. This shift towards precision targeting has helped move DOOH further down the funnel, offering advertisers the ability to narrow their aim and connect with audiences on a deeper, more intimate level.

  • Measurement and Attribution – DOOH campaigns can now be measured for their impact on driving specific actions, such as website visits or app downloads. This level of measurement aligns DOOH with mid-funnel objectives, where tracking and attributing conversions is crucial.

  • Data-Driven Insights – The integration of data analytics gives advertisers valuable insights into campaign performance. This has enabled advertisers to measure metrics such as intent to purchase, consumer interactions and conversions, which are metrics typically associated with mid-funnel marketing efforts.

  • Dynamic Content Delivery – The introduction of real-time data integration and programmatic advertising allows DOOH campaigns to adapt to changing circumstances. Advertisers are now able to display dynamic content such as live sports scores, real-time weather updates and even interactive elements, making DOOH more engaging and often, physically closer to the consumer's point of purchase.

However, as OOH has made strides towards the center, the right side of the spectrum has seen its progress stymied for various reasons including:

  • Regulations - GDPR, CCPA, and a host of other federal and state regulations have made it harder for marketers to use one-to-one data to target consumers. In response to these challenges, marketers are compelled to adopt innovative strategies, ensuring compliance with these regulations while continuing to create effective and personalized experiences for their audience.

  • Depreciation of the Cookie - The phasing out of cookies, although not yet official, has driven marketers to adopt new ways of performing bottom-funnel strategies.

  • Consumer Privacy - There has been a shift in people's perceptions regarding consumer privacy. For years, consumers appeared to be ambivalent about data privacy, but that tide is shifting. More than ever, consumers are protective of their privacy as it relates to who is tracking their whereabouts and what their personal data is being used for.

These factors have reduced the once-expansive territory of highly targeted, individual communication. Brands increasingly are focusing on the middle of the spectrum, a sweet spot that allows for specific, effective messaging at scale.

This shift represents a departure from the conventional reliance solely on real-time data. Brands have recognized the substantial value in analyzing weekly sales metrics and assessing the effectiveness of their campaigns over a more extended period. This broader perspective allows them to make well-informed decisions, enabling a nuanced understanding of their market performance. By embracing this approach, businesses can refine their strategies, optimize their marketing efforts, and enhance their overall impact on the market.

Amidst these transformations, there has been a resurgence of appreciation for a specific type of advertising, one that captivates without interruption. This revival is characterized by a focus on creating experiences that genuinely resonate with the audience. Instead of resorting to intrusive methods that forcibly divert a consumer's attention, brands are now dedicated to establishing meaningful connections. This change in strategy signifies a departure from the intrusive and often irritating interruptions to which consumers have grown accustomed.

As the ad landscape continues to morph, OOH's adaptability and its ability to harness technology will likely see it remain a significant player in the spectrum. In the balance between awareness and conversion, between broad reach and intimate connection, OOH has the capabilities and adaptability to meet a fuller range of brand outcomes.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Leslie Lee is SVP of marketing at Vistar Media.