The Evolution of Digital Out-of-Home Advertising

The Evolution of Digital Out-of-Home Advertising

The first proper digital billboards were put up in the United States around 2005, and by 2010 there were still only about 2000 billboards in the US. Since then, the growth curve has skyrocketed, and now the global digital out-of-home advertising market has projected $58.67 billion by 2030.

Currently, over 61,000 digital billboards are on display in the US. Unlike traditional billboards, digital out-of-home ads can be adjusted to reflect weather conditions and other environmental changes. Keep reading to discover what DOOH is, its advantages, and how it can revolutionize social media ads and mobile marketing.

What Is Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH)?

Digital Out-Of-Home (digital out-of-home) advertising is the use of electronic display media to run various forms of static and motion picture promotions. It enables advertisers to target the right audience and serve them with personalized ads.

digital out of home advertising

The early days of DOOH date back to the early 2000s, when digital screens became prevalent in public spaces such as shopping malls, train stations, airports, and sports arenas. During this period, DOOH was still relatively new, and advertisers were finding innovative ways to offer visuals to customers through digital screens. 

Among the numerous case studies of DOOH advertising in its infancy stage, one that stood out was the use of LED screens for different types of images and animations in Times Square,  New York. Although the technology quickly became a global sensation, it faced its fair share of bottlenecks. 

The major challenge that dissuaded people from using it was the incredibly high cost of acquiring, deploying, and maintaining the infrastructure when unplanned circumstances appeared. The digital screens were not pocket-friendly, nor was the high cost of internet connections then. 

Therefore it was difficult for smaller businesses and advertisers with insufficient budgets to participate in DOOH advertising. Even today, some SMEs still struggle to fit DOOH ads into their budget due to their high cost. 

They simply opt for other advertising avenues rather than use almost their entire month’s or year’s budget—as the case may be—to put up motion ads on the busy streets of Shanghai, California, or New York.

The Rise of Interactive DOOH Advertising

In keeping with world tech trends, it was certain that introducing touch screens and gesture-based technology would enhance DOOH’s evolution and allow businesses to provide a more engaging and interactive advertising experience.

Today, it’s common to find interactive display ads on touch screens when you visit train stations, shopping malls, airports, galleries, and other public spaces.

Gesture-based technology, on the other hand, uses cameras and sensors to detect and respond to human movements, allowing you to interact with adverts without touching the screen.

One example of interactive digital out-of-home advertising is the “Share a Coke” campaign by Coca-Cola. The campaign used touchscreen technology to allow customers to customize their Coca-Cola bottles by typing their names. 

Another example is the “SmileBooth” campaign by British Airways, using facial recognition technology to take photos of customers’ smiling faces and then display those photos on digital billboards across London.

Some of the advantages of interactive and personalized DOOH advertising are as follows:

  1. Real-World Customer Behavior Targeting and Retargeting: These insights can help you know your audience’s brand preferences and interests. 
  2. Higher Engagement: Interactive ads also have higher engagement rates than static ads, and they can provide valuable data on customer behavior and preferences.
  3. Competes With Phones and Other Digital Devices: You can reach customers when they are outside and not glued to their mobile devices.
  4. High Visibility: Unlike traditional out-of-home ads that use static billboards, DOOH ads can scrape through the junk of competition. You can use dynamic videos to reach your defined audience, even in large gatherings and public spaces.

However, some challenges come with interactive DOOH advertising. One of the challenges is the cost business incur from using billboards. Reliability and ease are also challenging if the ad intrudes on customer privacy, is not easy to understand, or is glitchy.

Since digital out-of-home ads are expensive, you must be cautious about how many ads you buy and where they place them. Aside from being cautious about the number of ads you purchase, you can also solve this challenge using a programmatic digital out-of-home solution we explain below.

The Emergence of Programmatic Advertising in DOOH

Programmatic digital out-of-home or pDOOH involves buying and selling DOOH ad space via automated systems and processes. The solution allows advertisers to deliver personalized campaigns by targeting specific audiences using location, demographic, time of day, and weather conditions. 

Brands like NSE LED are leading this innovation by creating mindblowing high-quality LED screens befitting any programmatic digital-out-of-home advertising scale. Some of the key advantages of pDOOH include:p8 outdoor nseled


  • Smart Data Usage: pDOOH allows you to discover the places a specific audience frequently visits. This data will enable you to understand the movement patterns of consumers and adjust your message to best suit that audience. 
  • Artificial Intelligence: AI is disrupting all industries, and pDOOH software is maximizing it to offer ads based on several factors, such as the time of the day, weather conditions, and people passing by the screen. The goal is to ensure that it serves only ads that are relevant to the viewers.
  • Reach Your Key Audience In Real-time: Unlike OOH, which is location-specific, pDOOH pays attention to your audience to discover what interests them. To get this right, you need to set more specific criteria that the system would use to give exceedingly accurate results and reach the right audience.

The DOOH industry has struggled with online advertising, and this shift towards audience-based ads is significant for the sector. Using data to target specific audiences in real-time makes DOOH advertising more relevant and effective. Hence, if you want to take your marketing to the next level, combine the principles of programmatic advertising with regular digital out-of-home.

Types of Programmatic Out-of-Home Advertising 

There are different types of programmatic out-of-home advertising. Some of them are:

  • Digital billboards: Digital billboards started trending a long time ago as the electronic version of traditional billboards. Powered by LEDs, digital billboards’ high brightness makes them stand out in public spaces, especially at night. It’s a major reason it captures onlookers’ interests and rakes in high conversion rates.
  • Digital Screen Media: Digital screen media is one of the most effective programmatic OOH advertising mediums for easily connecting with customers.

Some digital screen media applications include stadiums, airports, malls, corporate offices, exhibitions, museums, etc. They are often used for branding, advertising, or displaying product information.

Digital screen media differs from many other kinds of visual communication media because it involves the dimension of time. Time allows content to be shared into segments and used in different sequences to deliver more meaning and depth. 

It also makes the content more appealing to a broad range of target groups, such as mall shoppers and visitors to corporate offices and museums. 

  • Transit Advertising: Transit advertising is an outdoor form of media that places adverts on different modes of public transportation and transportation sites. These are the ads we see on buses, taxis, cars, trains, subways, train stations, bus stations, etc.

Transit advertising leverages highly crowded places like trains and bus stations to sell adverts to commuters waiting to get on board in these specified locations. They help brands to build recognition by powerfully reaching the masses, and it is visible 24/7, giving ad exposure to amplify their messages.

As a local business owner, you can use transit advertising to target local audiences more than any form of advertising. Although, every business can also use transit advertising.

  • Place-based advertising: Place-based advertising places ads in specific locations, targeting specific groups of people.

They incorporate digital content to be as interactive as possible, allowing you to reach certain demographics that frequent specific locations.

  • Street Furniture Advertising: Street furniture advertising is an out-of-home (OOH) advertising attached to street furniture. It’s quite powerful due to the population this furniture attracts. For instance, it’s normal to find people waiting under bus shelters before they get a ride or in subways to catch the next train. 

Innovative advertisers mastered the art of converting these pieces of public furniture, including phone booths and streetlights, into high-conversion advertising spots. They are always eye-catching, and with a good call-to-action, people can take instant actions while they wait.

  • Point of sale advertising: Point of sale advertising is OOH advertising that allows brands to communicate with customers at the checkout gates and cash counters.

POS can be very effective in urging consumers to make last-minute purchases by promoting complementary products. For example, displaying sunglasses at the checkout counter in a clothing store is a form of POS advertising because sunglasses are complementary products for most wear.

What Is the Best Digital Out-of-Home Advertising Strategy 

Determining the best digital out-of-home strategy for your brand depends on several factors. These include who your target audience is, the size of your marketing purse, and the goals of your marketing campaign. But, regardless of what the specifics are, below are some generic digital out-of-home advertising strategies with proven results:

  • Use eye-catching creativity: Deep creativity is an important strategy when creating DOOH ads. Many brands and businesses have attracted new customers simply because of their ad creativity. 

You must think out of the box to create engaging and eye-catching content using beautiful images, bold colors, and clear messaging that can easily grab the attention of onlookers. 

  • Target the right locations: Choosing the wrong location to place DOOH advertising can have a negative impact on the campaign. You must thoroughly ensure you place your ads where they can reach as many audiences as possible.

If your target audience is streamlined to a particular location, ensure that you channel your advert towards that location for better effect.

  • Make your ad interactive: This is one of the strategies that can help your DOOH advertising be more effective. An interactive ad is an ad that allows consumers’ participation by engaging directly with what is visible for them to have an experience with a brand.

Digitally speaking, interactive ads create two-way communication between the brand and potential customers. While traditional out-of-home (OOH) advertising is limited to static messaging, DOOH makes interactivity possible through programmatic technology. 

  • Use real-time data triggers: Use real-time data and triggers, such as weather or traffic conditions, to make your ad more relevant and timely. You can use real-time data triggers to make you add more timely and relevant information, and one of the easiest data triggers to use is a weather trigger.

Creating dynamic content that considers weather input can make your brand outstanding. This can enable sponsored weather forecast updates or create content based on weather.

For instance, if you are a coffee shop owner with digital signage close to the entrance, you can set up your weather data trigger to display relevant advertising material contextually.

A typical example would be having creatives advertise a hot drink when the weather is cold, at about 18C, and when the weather is above 20C, it would then switch to displaying cold drinks.

This will save you time, attract customers’ attention and ensure you advertise their desired products.

Weather data triggers could also be useful by displaying the weather forecast every 5-10 minutes. Remember that adding value to your local community is one of the most important forms of advertising.

  • Utilize programmatic advertising: Programmatic advertising allows for more precise targeting and optimization of DOOH campaigns based on data and algorithms.
  • Use multiple screens for storytelling: Using video content with multiple slides in the form of storytelling is a more effective and engaging way of advertising than a one-slide picture that captures all the necessary ad details.

What Are the Digital Out of Home Examples?  

When it comes to digital out-of-home advertising methods, modern advertisers have loads of options to choose from. Some of the top picks are: 

  • Digital Transit Advertising: This refers to any out-of-home advertisement displayed on public transportation mediums. It covers mobile signages attached to public taxis and buses or even displayed in transit terminals. 

It currently stands as one of the most effective digital out-of-home advertising strategies. According to recent data, 83% of commuters encounter transit advertising on weekdays, while another 69% view them on weekends.

The figures make sense when you consider that commuters constantly look for distractions in transit, whether outside their passenger windows or displayed somewhere in the vehicle. This category of viewers tends to respond better to, and engage with transit ads, as they cannot swipe them away like digital adverts. 

  • Digital Mall Advertising: Digital Mall advertising refers to the ad displays installed inside and outside malls. It is one of the modern means of giving more exposure to brands.

This is an ideal method of promoting product shopping malls since many people troop into shopping malls to shop and enjoy themselves. In today’s era, digital mall advertising has become one of the effective methods of reaching a targeted audience and creating more exposure to brands.

  • Digital cinema advertising: Digital cinema advertising is the medium of deploying sounds, color, motion, and vision on digital LED screens in cinemas. This audio-visual medium ranges from ordinary slide presentations to film screenings.

What Are the Benefits of Digital Out of Home?

Digital out-of-home advertising has several key benefits, both for advertising and consumers and some of the benefits are:

  • Wide Audiences: DOOH advertising reaches more consumers than you can think of. Since they usually appear shiny and attractive, they can easily grab people’s attention and deliver their message.
  • Flexibility: Unlike traditional advertising, which requires plenty of time and manual effort, digital advertising appears on digital screens with just a click of a button. Also, traditional advertising forces you to keep a simple message in a limited space. But with DOOH advertising, you can display multiple messages on one device. 

For instance, a retailer can display a promo sale to encourage sales. However, a different product range may enjoy more attention, and the retailer can rapidly change the ads to display these products instead.

Similarly, a college can appeal to art-oriented students one day and people who may want to study science-related courses the next. 

If you want to make advertisements more effective and attract maximum interest, you can add subtle motion to the DOOH advertising. Sometimes, you may use full motion to create an even more dramatic effect.

  • Storytelling: Static advertising can only communicate a single message and a limited level of narration. But DOOH advertising allows you to be more expressive by telling stories than can take your audience on a journey.

One slide could describe a consumer problem, while the next slide may explain how your product can help to solve the problem. You could also use a visual illustration of how to use your products and then inform consumers how they can buy them.

This is an effective method of directing consumers through the customer journey. You have control to explain specifically why they should patronize your product.

  • Cost-Effective Advertising: Traditional marketing strategies need significant manual work, reflecting the cost. In contrast, DOOH advertising charges can be much more reasonable. You can pay for continuous ads on digital signage or share a space with other brands. 

This is a good way of maintaining low costs when starting your advertising campaigns, and you can increase your investment as your campaign becomes more successful.

  • Non-Intrusive: There are concerns about how online advertising, social networks, and search engines monitor consumers’ behaviors and internet activities to tailor advertising content to them.

You can target Digital Out of Home ads to reach specific audiences, but it uses environmental instead of personal criteria. This means it displays relevant advertising to specific audiences without crossing the line of intrusion.

Its form of ad targeting is based largely on time and location or demographics and behaviors identified via anonymous aggregated mobile tracking. DOOH gathers impressions using GDPR compliance methods that do not violate audience privacy. 

Over time, a comprehensive yet fully anonymized picture of target audience activity appears. This makes it possible to learn consumer behavior patterns; nonetheless, no collection of unique identifiers. 

This means that DOOH is perfect for targeting campaigns to appropriate audiences rather than targeting specific individuals.

  • Increase Engagement Through Connectivity: Consumers love engaging with companies they trust and value. This is why they enjoy participating in online quizzes, surveys, or contributing to polls.

DOOH advertising can engage customers in ways that online digital advertisements cannot.

DOOH advertisements can be highly interactive. For example, customers can engage with an ad using their smartphones. Advertisers may use this to encourage entries into a contest in exchange for consumer data, give discounts to boost sales, or even provide free content.

The Convergence of Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) Advertising With Social Media and Mobile Marketing

As a business, one thing is constant—you will always look for new and effective ways to get your product and service across multiple people. What if there is a way to combine your traditional marketing effort with a solution that helps you to reach the right audience that needs your product or service?

A blend of digital out-of-home, mobile marketing, and social media can do the trick. Nobody sees 56% of the ads on the internet. However, integrating mobile marketing and social media campaigns with DOOH boosts visibility and reach, making them a perfect trio. 

McDonald’s campaign with Waze is a good instance of a successful DOOH advertising campaign involving mobile and social media marketing. They launched direction prompts within the app and targeted ads alongside traditional outdoor media. One major reason the ad was successful was that the app-based prompts synchronized perfectly with the billboards, clearly directing people.

DOOH In Smart Cities and Internet of Things (IoT) Era

Smart cities became a global sensation some years ago. The idea behind it is basically a digitalized ecosystem powered by artificial intelligence. IoT, on the other hand, involves giving such intelligence to normal home appliances. A good example is Amazon’s Alexa which can play music via voice commands. 

But it doesn’t stop there. We have smart homes today where every appliance, including the toaster, stove, shower, fire alarm system, television, windows, and lights, is connected to a central internet-powered portal. A smart city is an extension of this setup, featuring digitalized billboards, streets, public spaces, and what have you.

It’s normal in various cities to pass real-time messaging to any target audience through DOOH infrastructure. However, blending this with smart cities that bank on a network of data collection infrastructures as part of their IoTs could significantly change the game of advertising and information delivery.

The use cases of this convergence are almost endless—with examples including trains arriving at their destination or specific weather conditions. It’s easy to see how one can smoothly incorporate digital out-of-home in smart cities. Relevant authorities can foresee impending disasters and environmental challenges and inform residents via these screens easily.

The possibilities of leveraging DOOH in smart cities seem endless. Nevertheless, it has several limitations, including privacy concerns, technical limitations, cost, integration challenges, and public perception. But as long as DOOH advertising companies can prefer solutions to these challenges, digital out-of-home ads will be unstoppable in smart cities.

The Future of Digital Out-of-Home Advertising

While the increase in the rate of DOOH adoption is significant, traditional static media will remain relevant for a while. However, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, web3 technology, machine learning, and IoT will potentially transform DOOH advertising. 

These technologies can help automate creating and deploying campaigns, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. In addition, advertisers could integrate digital out-of-home into virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) experiences to create more engaging advertising campaigns. They can also use it to drive foot traffic to physical stores or locations. 

Like with any technology, it is important to consider these campaigns’ ethical and privacy implications from the onset. Advertisers must comply with relevant regulations and protect customer privacy when collecting and using ad data. Also, DOOH companies must consider the impact of their campaigns on local communities and strive to be respectful and non-intrusive.


Digital out-of-home advertising could be the big break your business needs, and despite the existing challenges, the industry is taking steps to overcome them. DOOH Service providers, companies, brands, and advertisers recognize the importance of this technology. 

But to get the most out of digital out-of-home advertising, you need a reliable, flexible, and easy-to-use platform. Leverage NSE LED’s industry expertise and innovative LED display solution to make the most of your campaigns and generates a strong ROI. Get in touch with us today to find out more.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Are the Differences Between OOH and DOOH Advertising

Out-of-home and Digital Out-of-home advertising are two common types of advertising which brands and businesses use in advertising their products and services to large audiences.  They share similarities but also have their distinct peculiarities, and the following are some of the differences between them:

  • Definition: OOH is the Out of Home advertising abbreviation, while DOOH means Digital Out of Home advertising. Both premises are the same, except that DOOH advertising uses digital infrastructural means in displaying ads.
  • Technology: Out-of-Home advertising uses printing machines and papers to design adverts physically placed on billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising. The ads on OOH are. In contracts, digital media create and display digital content over LED screens. As such, they use relevant software to facilitate content creation and a reliable internet connection for publishing the content.

OOH is static and can only display one ad over a specified time. On the other hand, DOOH allows for easy ads rotation over the same period, eliminating the stress of mounting and unmounting large printed papers on street billboards, as it is in OOH advertising.

  • Cost: DOOH advertising is usually more expensive than OOH advertising. But it is worth noting that OOH is one of the most cost-effective forms of media.

How Much Does Digital Out-of-Home Advertising Cost

The cost of digital out-of-home depends on factors such as screen size, time slots, number of screens used, etc.

DOOH advertising is typically priced based on the Cost Per Mille (CPM). DOOH advertising companies use this to measure the impression or cost per thousand views of an ad.

The location of the billboard can affect the CPM. For instance, a digital billboard in urban or big cities will have a very high CPM, while billboards in rural areas may have a very low CPM

Also, DOOH advertising companies may charge extra fees for ad schedules, creative design, details of the campaign, and overall production.

Discuss Some Digital Out of Home Advertising Data That Shows The Industry Direction? 

Digital out-of-home advertising has replaced traditional forms of advertising. In today’s world, it’s normal to walk into an airport, and 90% of the signage you’d see is digital. As DOOH continues to disrupt mainstream advertising in various sectors, experts believe its global adoption will soar. 

Also, modern breakthroughs in the tech space have led to a significant reduction in digital screen costs, allowing more players to penetrate the market. 

Now, even small and medium businesses can afford some sort of digital advertising campaign to reach their local customers. Finally, the advancement in urbanization across growing global economies can soon deliver profitable opportunities in the digital out-of-home industry.

What Is the Digital Out of Home Advertising Market Size 

The global market value of DOOH advertising in 2021 was 18.98 billion, and according to the market forecast, the DOOH advertising market could reach USD 57.93 billion by 2030.

In DOOH advertising, promotional content is digitally and dynamically displayed in indoor and outdoor public areas. Advertising and marketing businesses are exploring alternative solutions that will allow them to broadcast their brand messages due to the rising complexity of online advertising and the high cost associated with ad blockers.

This is creating a more profitable opportunity for the DOOH market, which could expand adoption throughout the forecast period.

What Are the Best Digital Out of Home Advertising Companies

NSE LED is among the best companies manufacturing digital out-of-home advertising screens and other salient resources. Advertisers worldwide use these screens to run various campaigns, including outdoor and indoor.

Out-of-Home Advertising vs. Digital Advertising 

Out-of-home advertising and digital marketing are essential marketing strategies for any serious business, meaning that serious businesses aiming for quality returns must invest in these forms of advertising.

While OOH advertising use physical materials like billboards, stickers, banners, and flyers, digital media uses the internet to reach and connect with potential customers.

But, one thing that distinguishes out-of-home advertising from digital marketing is that it has a better reach, especially considering that users need internet access for digital marketing to have any effect. In addition, consumers in big towns notice out-of-home advertising more as they go about their daily activities, driving on the highways, in local cities, or even walking in the street. 

However, digital marketing is more direct and offers better customizing options than out-of-home advertising. By directing your marketing efforts to your target audience, you get better results for your money. Plus, it gives your brand a better international reach, such that out-of-home advertising cannot provide. 

Through digital marketing, you can reach potential customers several miles away, widening your business reach and boosting your coffers. Another difference between out-of-door advertising and digital marketing is that the latter makes it easy to track results. 

With out-of-door advertising, it is hard to tell how many people see your adverts daily and the advert’s conversion rate. But with digital marketing, you can view these numbers in real-time and tweak your marketing efforts as you go. Alternatively, you can take these numbers into consideration for your next marketing campaign. 


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