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We have the new tech, now it's time for agreed standards, says OOH boss

04 Dec 2018  |  David Pidgeon 
We have the new tech, now it's time for agreed standards, says OOH boss

In the wake of mass digitisation, market consolidation and the launch of ambitious new trading platforms, experts in the out-of-home sector are calling for a boost to standards to ensure a smooth evolution away from static posters.

Speaking at the 2018 Automated Trading Debate, hosted by Mediatel, a gathering of traders and industry bosses were told without agreed standards out-of-home would be bogged down by needless complexity at a time when it was seeking to grow its share of market through investment in digital screens.

"Out-of-home has always been a complex medium to navigate, even when it was just billboards and posters," said Gavin Lee, the chief technology officer of Posterscope and the co-chair of the OOH Standards Committee - the body which is helping in the transition to a more automated future.

"With the rise of digital and an abundance of location data, the complexity is even greater. It is now critical to manage this."

Lee said settling on agreed standards for audience measurement, the meaning of an 'impact' or 'impression', and the terminology used for transacting is now vital if the sector is to reap the benefits of its recent investments, which globally now includes more than 300,000 digital screens, led by more advanced UK and US markets.

"The whole point of technology is to unblock barriers advertisers may have to buy in a different medium...for this to move forward, standardisation is critical."

The industry already has different automated or programmatic trading systems in place to deal with the influx of data and digital tech - including Posterscope's ECOS platform, and VIOOH, a new company set up by market leader JCDecaux, amongst others.

Arguing that it is good for the market to have use of an assortment of competing platforms, Lee said this will nevertheless be hindered without agreement across the sector on standards.

"We've made huge investments in physical infrastructure, but now we need to manage that technology," he said. "Agreed definitions will allow competition to flourish and different systems to connect and talk the same language."

According to Warc, spend on digital out of home advertising is expected to grow 10.1% each year between 2018 and 2021, accounting for the entirety of growth in the OOH market as spend on traditional sites begins to decline from next year.

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