If it feels like you’re seeing more advertising on digital screens in doctor’s offices, airports and malls, you’re right. After slower growth in 2014, digital out-of-home (DOOH) providers booked revenue gains of 11% in 2015, the industry’s highest growth rate since the Great Recession, according to PQ Media’s US Digital Out-of-Home Media Forecast 2016. And consumer exposure to DOOH networks increased 4% in 2015 to about 51 minutes per week, “continuing a multi-year upward trend that places DOOH among the fastest-growing segments of the broader media industry,” the report says.

Even with that good news, the industry still has its challenges, including integration of new technology and standardized measurement of results, according to the report. Also among those challenges: how to differentiate media assets, communicate their advantages and show their value. As a content creator (among our many other services as a DsaaS provider), that comes as no surprise to us. When it comes to DOOH, separating myth from reality is key to continued growth.

The myth: If you put up displays with dynamic advertising, people will undoubtedly watch it.

The reality: Advertising for advertising’s sake won’t move the needle


To develop an effective DOOH network, marketers and advertisers have to be far more creative with their content to engage with their target audiences. “Content is king” is a trope at this point . . . but like many clichés, we keep using it because it’s true – most especially when it comes to digital marketing of any kind.

While the traditional billboard may be an exception to this rule, the need for great content is particularly applicable to networks that focus on settings with long dwell times, such as waiting rooms, airports, taxis and hotel rooms. Long-form DOOH networks are like television. If your TV show stinks, you won’t pull in an audience and hold their attention, which means you quickly lose advertisers. You better come up with a great show that people actually want to watch; otherwise, you’re wasting your time.

In those instances, that means mini TV shows tailored to audiences and dwell times, with targeted advertising inserted in breaks. Depending on the setting, content needs to be entertaining or informational, or viewers will mentally, if not figuratively, switch it off. Your content needs to deliver value to your audiences, and advertising goes along for the ride – not the other way around.

A few other points about content:

  • The more you understand your audiences and can provide customers with hyper-targeted content and advertising, the greater your value to advertisers. The information and technology to do so is available; a recent article in Digital Signage Today reminds us that “OOH planning systems are integrating with data sources including mobile carrier data, online browsing behavior and shopper purchase records” to provide better targeting for advertisers.
  • As with any digital signage or media network, measurement of results is critical. Does your content produce the kind of viewer engagement and dwell times that will keep advertisers coming back to your network?
  • The monitoring necessary to keep a network and its content and ads up and running 24/7 can make potential DOOH providers stop before they even start. Do you have the technology (or a technology partner) that can guarantee that type of performance for you and your clients?

After a good 2015, data from the first part of 2016 points to another year of growth for the DOOH industry. Consumers will be exposed to more DOOH content on their mobile devices and public transportation (thanks to ever-increasing commuting times) and while shopping and traveling. In that kind of market, good content isn’t just a value-add; it’s a necessity for attracting and keeping the attention of the right audiences – and ultimately satisfying advertisers.

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