Out-of-home advertising (OOH) vs Digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH), what’s the difference?


  • OOH advertising is the more traditional method, physical billboards with painted or printed content, fliers, bus-stops, posters, etc.
  • Whilst it has been somewhat overshadowed by DOOH advertising, it still has its place. Car, train and bus wraps for example will never be replaced and are still an effective way of advertising.
  • On the other hand DOOH advertising has allowed for motion/video content/advertising to be taken out of the home and leave a lasting impression.
  • Both are still relevant in the advertising industry today.

Out-of-home Advertising (OOH):

Out-of-home advertising has existed for over a century, starting with the humble billboard along a high traffic street. OOH is still relevant in today’s market as it is still the easiest and most efficient method of advertising in some locations. OOH is an unskippable advertising method and will be seen by large volumes of people in a specific location. The most common forms of OOH advertising were billboards, bus-stops and posters but has switched gears due to the entrance of DOOH. These forms of OOH still exist but in a more digital capacity, it is more appropriate to reference things such as vehicle wraps as OOH these days.

Whilst OOH has been somewhat stagnant since DOOH’s entrance, it is still very much relevant. In particular it is relevant for locations that do not have easy access to power or the internet. Out-of-home advertising is also still used for things that digital out-of-home advertising can’t do such as vehicle wraps, stickers and decals. An example of a successful OOH campaign is McDonald’s “Bitten Billboards” campaign. McDonalds installed billboards with “bites” taken out of them and images of their recognisable food products. A digital variation of this is possible, but it would not have had the same effect.

Title: The large format American poster (measuring more than 50 square feet) originated in New York when Jared Bell began printing circus posters 1835
McDonalds Bitten Billboards campaign under bridge

Title: McDonalds “Bitten billboards” campaign

Digital Out-of-home Advertising (DOOH)

Digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH) is the newer version of OOH aiming to build upon the ground work and improve it. One form of this is digital signage/digital displays which aims to replace signage in locations that have access to power and the internet (other forms of DOOH include digital billboards, digital screens, mall kiosks, etc.). There is a large array of benefits as to why DOOH is being introduced in appropriate locations including; ease of management, instant changes, lowered cost, market targeting and more.

DOOH allows advertisers and marketers to upload multiple pieces of content to a network of devices. Being able to remotely connect to these devices allows the content to be changed quickly and easily from a “content management tool” such as Doohly. It also allows content to be changed to suit the intended audience automatically. Both of these core benefits will also lead to reducing the cost of running advertisements as the need for labour is drastically reduced. It can also lead to an extra revenue stream for businesses who opt-in to having DOOH devices. These businesses can sell this screen inventory through a system such as programmatic digital out-of-home.

OOH and DOOH can now be measured in a way that was previously not as accessible through the use of QR/Promo codes. Potential customers/viewers of the content can use these codes to access special deals, you can then use this data to measure the success of the campaign.

Programmatic - pDOOH

We won’t go into much detail about programmatic DOOH advertising in this article as it warrants its own post. Programmatic digital out-of-home advertising is one of the newest advances in the adtech space. It involves the owners of DOOH materials, advertisers, and a third-party marketplace. The way it works is that the owners of the DOOH such as pubs, cafes, sporting venues, etc allow their screen inventory to be bought by advertising firms, this is known as the “Supply Side Platform” (SSP). It is all done automatically as advertisers set their budget and upload their advertising content to the marketplace, or “Demand Side Platform” (DSP). This advance in the adtech space has allowed SME’s to increase their ROI on DOOH as it provides an additional revenue stream.
Advertisers are switching back to OOH/DOOH advertising from online advertising due to two primary reasons. The first is that OOH/DOOH advertising is non-skippable. Pedestrians/customers will see every ad and have higher engagement than online ads. The other reason for the switch is due to privacy concerns with online advertising such as data tracking. OOH is thought to be the most trustworthy of all advertising types due to the anonymity associated with it.

There is no one size fits all advertising method and both DOOH and OOH should be used complementary to each other. Both DOOH and OOH have a place in today’s advertising environment and have appropriate use cases and benefits. If you feel DOOH can impact on customers and interests you, feel free to get in contact with us to explore potential options.


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