The writing is on the wall

Outdoor in MENA may have already taken a strong turn towards digital, it’s about to take another decisive one, writes OMG’s Mazen Mansour

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, for outdoor advertising, value is in the gaze of the passer-by.

Measuring the audience of billboards and mupis has always had its own challenges but the rapid move to digital screens is increasing people’s attention levels.

This subtle yet profound shift in the world of Out of Home (OOH) advertising holds the promise of transforming the industry in ways we’ve only begun to fathom. And fathom we must as there is more to come

In the MENA region, we’ve witnessed a remarkable leap in the OOH medium, thanks to large markets like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE.

The share of OOH in total media investments stands impressively between 20 per cent and 25 per cent, while in the USA and the UK, it hovers around a modest 3-5 per cent.

The MENA region has fully embraced digital outdoor advertising. DOOH accounts for about 50 per cent of total OOH investments, exceeding the global average of 40 per cent.

This remarkable growth isn’t mere accident; it’s the result of a new and compelling digital proposition driven by the region’s fast-growing technological infrastructure. It’s also got a lot to do with the rise of retail media, in which DOOH plays a significant role.

These two fast-growing channels are merging, extending retail media performance in-store and turning OOH into a key performance channel.

From a creative standpoint, the digital transformation of OOH has opened the door to exciting possibilities.

Imagine ads that dynamically respond to the environment, changing with the weather or time of day, engaging viewers in ways traditional OOH never could.

For advertisers, this means telling richer stories and forging stronger connections with their audiences. However, the appeal of digital OOH extends beyond its creative potential. It stands strong in terms of effectiveness as well.

The ability to integrate real-time data and dynamic content ensures campaigns are not just visually appealing but contextually relevant. It’s a tangible step up that elevates the medium further in marketers’ minds and plans.

The digitisation of media, including outdoor, has been a significant trend in the advertising landscape in MENA and across the world. Advertisers who invest in their brands value this transformation and see a promising future.

However, while the success of digital outdoor advertising is undeniable, it still faces challenges in the region.

Chiefly among them, the industry yearns for standardised measurement and a unified buying currency that can offer consistency.

“With better proof before and after the buy, in terms of data, measurement and attribution, programmatic outdoor aligns OOH advertising with modern client and agency expectations”

All eyes are on what comes next: programmatic outdoor advertising. While still relatively new, programmatic outdoor advertising has the potential to be a game-changer.

In MENA, programmatic outdoor advertising currently represents an even smaller fraction of the total OOH and digital outdoor investments, but this will only grow. Adoption will be faster if the key DOOH players build their infrastructure to make their inventory accessible programmatically and adopt one standardised measurement approach.

This will justify marketers’ decision to bring new budgets to the medium on top of their current activity. Thanks to a lower entry point, it may even attract new brands.

What’s further revolutionising this space is the emergence of DOOH demand-side platforms (DSPs) that offer a seamless, user-friendly way to launch dynamic campaigns, making programmatic DOOH a reality for advertisers.

Campaign Middle East will be hosting its monthly Breakfast Briefing on the Out of Home industry on 10th November at the Grand Plaza Mövenpick, Media City, Dubai. To find out more click here

Communications with suppliers are simplified by the online marketplaces for DOOH services, which allow advertisers to easily select the right screens and deploy campaigns quickly, conveniently, and efficiently.

Another core benefit of programmatic DOOH is the flexibility it offers in terms of audience selection, when to buy, start or pause. It also makes the medium eminently accountable.

With better proof before and after the buy, in terms of data, measurement and attribution, programmatic outdoor aligns OOH advertising with modern client and agency expectations, which other digital media already offer.

Lastly, programmatic DOOH brings about dynamic, data-driven campaigns that can be altered on the fly. What was the most static medium is quickly becoming dynamic, offering an ever-growing range of options to advertisers to address their marketing challenges.

The path to programmatic DOOH is a journey, not just a destination. It marks a seismic shift in advertising, heralding a new era of creativity, flexibility, automation and targeting.

This is a transformation that offers new opportunities for advertisers and promises a more relevant and responsive way to connect with audiences.

The digital programmatic DOOH revolution is about to change the rules of engagement in advertising.

This profound transformation may be slow, but it won’t be any less meaningful as relevant and desirable media experiences will attract people’s gaze and capture their attention.

By Mazen Mansour is Data & Programmatic Lead at OMG MENA