Programmatic DOOH: Lessons from the European experience

By Jenni Gilbert | 12 March 2020

Australian advertisers, agencies and publishers are embracing programmatic digital out-of-home (DOOH) in ever-increasing numbers, but structures and strategies need to be underpinned by data, Outdoor Media Association (OMA) independent chairman Charles Parry-Okeden warns in an interview with Broadsign. 

Once regarded as a relatively unaccountable medium, the OOH industry has made great strides in how audiences are measured, targeted and accounted for, he says, but more work needs to be done.

Parry-Okeden is founder and global CEO of workplace media communication network International (ECN), a pioneer in the programmatic space as one of the first networks in Europe to utilise the method of transacting.

While the local arm was sold to oOh! Media in 2016, ECN has a strong and growing presence in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands, recently installing screens into a 500th building location.

“ECN has developed a strong data proposition when it comes to better quantifying and understanding its audiences,” says Parry-Okeden in an interview with Ben Allman, sales director for Broadsign in Australia & New Zealand.

“From a sales perspective, we’ve established a stand-alone programmatic department that has been handling all the DSP (demand side platform) integrations and client interest from the outset.

“We’ve been conscious of not distracting our sales team from their primary role, which is to service our core clients across our agencies and specialist partners in each local market.

“Having the departments separate, although effectively collaborating where required, has meant minimal disruption and has allowed both teams to remain 100% focused on the task at hand.”

According to Parry-Okeden, this structure has enabled ECN to use programmatic in attracting new markets, advertisers and budgets.

“However, there was still work to be done behind the scenes to ensure that our network, structure and teams were all in place to run programmatic campaigns across all our markets seamlessly, and without impacting our core business,” he says.

“The programmatic space is still a relatively new one for the DOOH market, so there was a steep learning curve both internally and in educating others about how we, as an industry, should move forward with it.”

Having experienced the rapid growth of programmatic DOOH in Europe firsthand, Parry-Okeden foresees it playing out similarly in Australia – with a word of warning.

“We must remember it’s not a race, and while some new market entrants are attempting to win market share by pushing the agenda at lightning speed, we must ensure we’re not just cannibalising our existing market with this agenda,” he says.
“Ideally, programmatic in the short term will open up DOOH inventory to client digital budgets.

“Much of our (ECN) programmatic revenue across Europe has been incremental, as more digital agencies and direct clients shift a percentage of budget away from online and mobile and add DOOH to serve as part of an omnichannel approach to planning and buying.

“Over time I expect this planning approach will gain more traction resulting in an increasing proportion of DOOH inventory being utilised for this strategy.

“The key for us at ECN when we started programmatic was to get the foundations right from the outset.

“There’s a lot of education that needs to take place in market before providers, DSPs, planners and buyers can truly realise programmatic’s potential.

“The OMA focus remains on working with our partners to establish further industry standardisation, as well as developing a more sophisticated industry measurement to encompass DOOH across all OOH environments.

“These two things are at the core of what’s ultimately required to confidently scale the programmatic opportunity across the industry. I expect we will make strong headway over the coming 12 to 24 months.”

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

comments powered by Disqus