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DOOH Advertising & Impressions

The world of DOOH advertising has drastically picked up pace and scale within the last decade. This is largely due to the development and advancement of audience measurement technologies that are designed to provide insights into network traffic and content performance. Another reason for the increase in DOOH advertising is the introduction of programmatic buying and selling which expedites the way in which ad space can be purchased. The core metric that is at the centre of both pDOOH deals and campaign reports is impression data.

What is programmatic DOOH advertising?

Programmatic DOOH advertising, or pDOOH, is the term used to describe the automated buying and selling and delivery involved in out-of-home advertising. The automated nature of it means that out-of-home advertising space, predominantly on billboards and signage, can be sold in real-time just as in online advertising. Through a platform called a demand side platform (or DSP), media buyers will set their parameters for their desired ad space. This will most often include a CPM (cost per mille or cost per thousand impressions)  and very often demographic insights such as the desired age or gender of viewers.  Through the Supply Side Platform (SSP) media owners can set their minimum requirements for the sale and the two will then be matched in real time through the ad exchange.

What are Impressions?

Impressions are a metric used to measure the number of people that view a specific piece of ad content. This ad content could be in online advertising or on mobile or it could be part of a DOOH campaign. As a common currency within the bidding process, impressions help measure ad performance and determine the value of ad space. Historical foot traffic data and real-time impression data can be collected by media owners and used to provide a predicted audience tally to media buyers who are considering buying an ad slot on their network. The higher the number of impressions the higher the price of the inventory. 

How are DOOH impressions measured?

Traditionally, the results of outdoor advertising were very difficult to track with no accurate way to measure how many people were viewing an ad. Various forms of smart technology now makes it possible for advertisers and publishers to gain accurate insights such as how many people are within the field of view of a DOOH screen and how many people actually viewed a specific piece of content. 

DOOH is a one to many medium which means that digital billboards and digital signage will be viewed by multiple people at once. Calculating impressions therefore means taking into account that one play of an ad will capture multiple impressions. 

What are Impression Multipliers?

Within DOOH advertising,  “impression multiplier” is a term that refers to the calculation of the number of ad impressions that one ad play should count for. The MRC Standard defines it as screen audience per hour x (screen dwell time in secs/ advertisement slot duration in secs)/ screen slots per hour. Calculating this is crucial to understanding the impact of an ad; there are various ways in which media owners can do this. First-party data is an obvious option, but one that most companies will not have access to. Cinemas, for example, can make an estimation on the number of people that viewed a screen based on the number of ticket sales. However, there is really no way to do this with most outdoor advertising.

Impression Measurement Techniques

Alternatively, there are three main ways that impressions are calculated through third-party research.

The first is through computer vision software such as that created by Sightcorp. Sightcorp uses a combination of anonymous technologies; face detection and body detection to carry out audience reach analysis, with both opportunity to see measurements (OTS) and Likelihood to see (LTS) measurements carried out simultaneously. In this case, by using this measurement tool, there is no need for an impression multiplier as the technology can count precisely how many people viewed the ad in real-time, with the data displayed conveniently on a dashboard for media owners and buyers to easily view.   

The second impression measurement tool that can be used is mobile location data. Sourced from an individual’s phones, this data includes GPS, beacon tech and telco network cell towers and gives insight into the number of people passing by a certain location. 

Traffic data counts can also be used to assess impressions in outdoor advertising. Street level traffic count data is sourced from RAMM in order to get an idea of how many people move past a digital display. 

Since a recent ruling from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America outlines the new standard of using Opportunity To See (OTS) as a core metric, the importance of these calculations is clear. All of these methods allow for insights into how many people could be within a certain location in order to determine the value of a set area of DOOH advertising space. 

As the OAAA begins to place more emphasis on Likelihood To See as a supplementary metric, computer vision software comes into its own as a method of impression calculation. LTS takes into account real time dynamics and variables that affect a person’s proximity to an ad in order to get a more accurate idea of how many impressions are occurring; face detection software is able to provide precise data on how many people are viewing an ad in real-time. 

DOOH Impression data powered by video analytics

As well as capturing the number of people looking at digital signage, our video analytics software is able to determine the number of times a person looks at DOOH advertising and for how long. This ensures that unique impressions can be counted and accurate demographic insights gained whilst all content is blurred for anonymity.