This year, fraudulent digital ad spend in the U.S. is estimated to be around $12 billion. For comparison, more money is spent on bot traffic than the total spend on out-of-home advertising (OOH) in the U.S., which is predicted to be around $8 billion. Additionally, AppNexus cites that nearly half of all display ads purchased are never seen by anyone. Of the ads that are viewable, studies show that 47% of global internet users have ad blocking software, and 65% of online video ads are skipped.
These behaviors are creating enormous challenges for brands to simply get their messages in front of consumers. Add to the mix of bot traffic, viewability and blocking, fake news and risqué content continue to spread like wildfire on the internet, making brand safety a top concern for advertisers. While digital media continues to be plagued by these issues with no long-term solution in sight, OOH is not vulnerable to any of these challenges yet remains an undervalued channel for advertisers. With big and bold formats that inherently weave through a consumer’s daily journey, OOH represents a major opportunity for brands, sans guilt.
Zero bot fraud
Unlike certain forms of digital advertising, OOH ads are not delivered via the open internet but instead on closed networks of screens. While third-party measurement platforms may not be perfectly accurate when it comes to any given ad play, they have proven to work quite well at determining total audience exposure over a period of time. And importantly, these audiences are 100% human. We may someday live in a Westworld reality where our robot counterparts are walking the streets, but until then we can safely claim that the non-human share of OOH ad exposure is 0%.
In recent years, there has been tremendous focus on ensuring that ads delivered are actually viewable. The official MRC standard for viewability is that 50% of the ad must be viewable for one second. Despite this fairly low bar, total viewability for desktop display ads are only 53.6%, which is a shockingly low number.
OOH, on the other hand, wasn’t designed to deliver content, but to do one thing only: deliver ads. Unlike loading a webpage, the cost of deploying an OOH display is significant. No media company will pay to put an ad in public space that can’t be seen. Moreover, 100% of the ad can always be viewed; there is no “fold,” no scrolling, no chance that any part of the ad renders outside of the frame of the OOH display. OOH is a viewable medium by design.
No ad blocking or skipping
OOH is inherently unblockable and unskippable. When the ads are viewed, they are not in the form of tiny rectangles delivered on small personal devices, but as life-size, creative experiences in the physical world. It’s for this reason that a PJ Solomon study demonstrated that ad recall for OOH is higher than any other advertising medium, including TV, radio, online and print.
Many OOH displays are content-free, showing advertising only. And the ones that do display content are carefully curated. OOH publishers that display content on public screens must conform to established guidelines dictated by the landlords and municipalities they work with, and these generally align very closely to the brand safety guidelines of major advertisers. In the OOH world, the only brand safety question isn’t around what’s playing on the screen but potentially what the screen is next to. Unlike the online world, where the appearance of a negative story or a risqué photo is difficult to predict, OOH publishers know the exact location of their displays. If a brand finds any display locations objectionable, it can avoid those displays with total certainty.
OOH is immune to many of the ills that continue to vex digital media. On top of which, new measurement approaches are showing that it performs better from an ROI perspective than most traditional media. All of this is great news for brands looking to reach real consumers with always viewable, unskippable, brand safe messaging that drives measurable impact to their bottom line.