Interview: John McNerney, Yahoo on DOOH advertising and its rise in India

John McNerney

John McNerney talks about how advertisers can reach the consumers anytime, anywhere with DOOH advertising, speaking about the trends seen in this industry, and how consumers react to communication on these mediums.

The digital take on the old-classic OOH, DOOH is basically OOH powered by digital elements such as geofencing, tracking, retargeting, personalizing, attribution and measurements. Talking about this method of advertising, John McNerney, Sr. Director – Platforms APAC, Yahoo, discusses its impact, scope and demand in the Indian market.

Edited Experts:

As India reopens, how do you see advertisers looking at capitalizing on DOOH?

We’re seeing some distinct advantages advertisers are capitalizing on. The first being targeting tactics. Unlike traditional OOH, DOOH can leverage real-time signals to determine targeting tactics. This could be based on demographics like age, gender or household income. Or the weather, with parameters like ‘air quality’ which can be a concern in some Indian cities. Or even ‘points of interest,’ like recently-visited locations. What’s more, with trusted identity solutions emerging, advertisers can even target based on interests like sports and finance.

The second advantage I see brands capitalizing on is Programmatic DOOH (pDOOH), which can solve key challenges. pDOOH blends the precision targeting and ease of programmatic ad buying with the effectiveness of high-impact DOOH. This means the benefits range all the way from enhanced targeting, to advanced planning and buying tools that offer greater control, flexibility and optimization, streamlined reporting and measurement. Ultimately, advertisers get greater visibility into holistic campaign performance. pDOOH is becoming mainstream and seamless in markets such as the UK, Australia and the US. India isn’t far behind.

Our global study shows 93% of marketers want to buy their media within one platform for efficiency, to have a single digital marketing view, but also to leverage programmatic benefits – such as Path to conversion, Channel effectiveness – bringing TV/CTV assets to be interoperable where platforms follow the audience, vs siloed channel buys.  

Since you make DOOH ad inventory available in an automated way through the ad platform, how have you seen ad rates changing amid the pandemic? How have these rates increased for this year?

Prices haven’t fluctuated too much out of the seasonal norms. The value OOHs high impact ads bring is understood, and in most cases even with different levels of lockdown, programmatic OOH is slightly more expensive due to the ability to target specific audiences, and locations whenever needed. This automation has allowed OOH media owners to accept incremental revenue, otherwise not available in traditional packages, and have their workforce focus on the more consultative and strategic revenue without the added admin of short-term activations.

Why do you think DOOH is a high-impact format for India?

India has a large, growing young population. These consumers, like their Gen Z counterparts globally, are hungry for engaging, well-executed experiences that offer utility and create community. DOOH serves as an ideal primer and conduit to personalized digital experiences. DOOH advertising helps brands bridge consumers’ digital experiences  at home, on their mobile devices and in public spaces. If you look at how smartphone adoption is growing, India is adding an estimated 25 million new smartphone users every quarter. And if you connect the dots, research shows DOOH triggers a high probability of  consumer activity on mobile devices (52%).

Finally, Indians are more than ready to step out. Covid restrictions have been eased across states – Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, in fact all the metros are opening up. This means no more night curfew, many more trips to the mall, gym routines reinstated… With DOOH, advertisers can be where Indian consumers are, reaching them when it matters, whether at an entertainment venue, the airport or a tech park.

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How would you advise a brand to integrate DOOH into a larger omnichannel campaign strategy?

As part of an omnichannel media strategy, DOOH amplifies the effectiveness of other channels, helping brands reach on-the-go audiences.

DOOH is not just a way to build awareness. We are seeing clients find success with a range of KPIs.

When DOOH is integrated in a larger omnichannel campaign it actually becomes all the more effective, especially when leveraged with mobile and native placements that support mid-to-lower funnel consumer activities.

Programmatic DOOH platforms, like the Yahoo DSP, simplify omnichannel campaign management, which talks to what advertisers are looking for right now – a holistic view of consumers and campaigns, and of course, an easier way to manage omnichannel campaigns to drive improved performance.

What kind of advertisers have been most interested in DOOH channels?

We are seeing all and any type of advertisers. Particularly the smaller digital advertisers like Fintechs, eCommerce / retail brands all getting involved. Knowing they can reach offline audiences at scale through a new channel – seamlessly, sees many net new advertisers try pDOOH. Many traditional OOH brands started to use pDOOHs flexibility during covid restriction differences, to start, stop and target as they wish, vs stopping all together.

Why aren’t many brands still not exploring this avenue despite its potential? How would you advise an advertiser to spend on this?

A lot of innovation in DOOH, and pDOOH  has come over the last two years. In fact, in 2020, Yahoo was among the first global demand-side platforms to connect to the DOOH ecosystem. Now, we are seeing pDOOH go mainstream as advertisers explore its potential, possibilities and benefits – that is the conversation we are having with advertisers and they are excited by what they can achieve with DOOH. Marketers are uncovering how DOOH can provide a flexible buying alternative to static mediums and coexist seamlessly with other digital media channels.  

The rise of DOOH from here will be rapid and significant. FICCI-EY’s 2021 report forecasts that the growth in transit media assets and DOOH will be faster than growth in traditional media options, making up 44% of the segment’s revenues by 2023. ‘Integration of DOOH inventory with large advertising platforms and networks’ will boost this segment, according to the report, and that is exactly how we are seeing it pan out.

DOOH also opens up opportunities for digital marketers. When pDOOH first launched in 2020, there was concern about retrofitting web/mobile creative into DOOH. The creative is now the champion of many conversations & strategies. The ability to hit KPIs in different ways – having offline audiences engage with billboards to start a path to purchase using a QR code, or experiential AR of the user on screen, or showing sequential messages from their trip home on a highway – to a personalised message on their connected TV or Audio podcast.

How can advertisers prepare for campaign success — when should advertisers use CTV advertising? How can they execute successful and strategic CTV campaigns, maximizing campaign performance?

There are several reasons advertisers are turning to CTV – to extend reach, complement linear TV buys, within omnichannel campaigns to complement other ad formats and build brand recall…

The ground reality is, traditional TV measurement tools can’t keep up as people shift to streaming. With data-driven advanced TV solutions, advertisers have robust ways to precisely target and unlock incremental reach. For instance, Yahoo’s suite of CTV planning, activation, and measurement tools enables brands to understand their incremental reach using several dimensions of their buys, including by publisher, network, audiences, and other criteria.

Advertisers can forecast and measure ad frequency at both the household and user level. Or retarget people reached on CTV across their other devices to drive them down the sales funnel. And all of this is overlaid with robust insights that empower TV advertisers to measure and manage ROI  better, with granular data on the impact of digital ad exposure across closed-loop sales lift and brand awareness.

Major trends you foresee in programmatic CTV advertising this year? When will India be at par with some major global markets in terms of its spending on CTV?

India is still a young market for CTV, but there’s a substantial opportunity ahead. CTV viewing is rising rapidly here, with strong projections for the CTV growth. Last year was a blockbuster year for smart TVs, with the highest-ever shipments and the overall share of smart TVs increasing to 84% in India’s TV market, according to Counterpoint research. So it comes as no surprise that advertisers now want to reach consumers on CTV, and media owners want to monetize it.

As CTV becomes programmatically traded, the ease and efficiency of buying digital media programmatically will cross over to CTV video ad inventory, unlocking programmatic advantages.

Advertisers will finally be able to target TV audiences with the same granularity as digital advertising. The precision of programmatic will lead to benefits like targeting of precise high-value audiences, omnichannel planning and measurement.

With the cookie on its way out, CTV will be a way for advertisers to find the right audience through targeting options using trusted first party data, especially as new identity solutions are established within the programmatic ecosystem.



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