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David Pidgeon 

JCDecaux launches automated trading platform for the OOH sector

JCDecaux launches automated trading platform for the OOH sector

JCDecaux has launched a global and independent automated planning and trading platform designed to accelerate the growth of out-of-home and connect the industry to the wider programmatic world.

The news, which comes as the OOH sector in the UK heatedly debates the path to an automated future, is a first for the industry.

The system - christened VIOOH, but rather awkwardly pronounced 'view' - is majority owned by JCDecaux, with the data specialist company Veltys taking a 6.5% share.

In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, JCDecaux said the purpose of the system is to grow OOH advertising spend globally by providing automation and programmatic trading for media sellers and buyers.

The system is open to anyone who wishes to use it, but it will largely benefit the French-owned business at a time when digital-out-of-home is growing.

Global demand-side platforms (DSPs) including Adform, Scoota and MediaMath, have partnered with VIOOH and discussions are being held with others, including AppNexus and Vistar. Test partners included Addison Lee and the media agency the7Stars.

"The platform will provide advertisers and agencies with an enhanced value proposition for out-of-home allowing audience led planning and trading including the ability to plan the OOH digital screen alongside the mobile screen," said Jean-Charles Decaux, chairman of the executive board and co-CEO of JCDecaux.

VIOOH has been in development for two years and provides automated trading, data management, content serving and ad exchange functionality. It also comes with a new CEO, Jean-Christophe Conti, previously of Yahoo and Appnexus, and will be headquartered in London with a team of 65 developers, coders, commercial and support staff.

JCDecaux said it is "convinced" that out-of-home can compete with the wider digital advertising market by "transforming" its whole offering through optimised campaigns using data and technology.

"This is why the group decided to create VIOOH organically on a worldwide footprint and to open it to out-of-home media owners," it said.

Commenting on the news, analysts at Liberum said they believe the development is a "major catalyst" for JCDecaux and the industry as a whole and should lead to "significant margin upside in the near-term" and attract fresh advertising budgets in the outdoor advertising sector in the medium-term.

The analysts said the automated trading platform should shorten the ad booking process and attract advertisers that previously would have advertised instantly via online or newspapers.

Additionally, they expect better audience measurement as the automated platform further develops, allowing for more targeted ads.

"In our view better audience metrics will also attract new advertisers, which previously were shy of using OOH as it used to be known as an advertising medium with rather poor audience measurement capacities," they said.

Commenting on today's news, Paul Sambrook, global marketing director at Rapport, an OOH media agency, added: "This is a smart move by JCDecaux as the OOH industry looks to capitalise on its significant investment in digital infrastructure and data.

"The prize being eyed is clearly a slice of the double-digit global growth forecast in online video and social. At face value, creating a platform that allows digital OOH to be integrated with the wider digital eco-system should help drive efficiencies and provide greater agility for advertisers."

Starting in the UK and the USA, the platform will later be deployed in other leading markets globally.

Mediatel asked each of the UK's major OOH media owners if they will use VIOOH. Primesight said it has no plans to use it, while Clear Channel said it was simply "glad to see others joining us in that effort to grow our medium’s rightful share of the market."

At the time of writing, Exterion had not responded to Mediatel's request for comment.

Mediatel operate two essential services for the OOH industry. SPACE is a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart and is the most comprehensive and up-to-date list of inventory in the UK. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution that enables easy integration of Route audience data into client's systems. See for more information.

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