MMC 2022: Recap - Programmatic DOOH (pDOOH) goes mainstream


The 16th Malaysian Media Conference which was held under the theme of Rest, Recharge & Reconnect, sponsored by Moving Walls this week, saw panelists take a no-holds-barred approach to topics within the Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) sphere that often go unsaid. While the light hearted sentiments elicited laughs from a full-house session, many of the salient points served as food for thought. If you missed the power-packed discussion, some of the key insights are listed here. 

Programmatic Transformation is Driving Addressability and Accountability

Maaresh Starling, the CEO of Redberry and President of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Malaysia (OAAM) said the industry needs to be cognizant that one medium cannot replace the other. “Each medium has its pros and cons. With digital, the emphasis is now on dynamic content executions and that is changing consumer experiences.” 

Meanwhile, Abhishek Battacharjee, the Managing Director of Publicis Media stated that programmatic has become the catalyst for Out-of-Home (OOH) transformation. “There are two key factors which make this transformation experientially promising - addressability and accountability. For the longest time all channels including television have been struggling with this. This puts DOOH in a sweet spot being backed by technology that drives both these factors.”  He added that with a canvas larger than life, it cannot be compared to any of the other media options. “It's like TV on steroids. If you marry TV with digital, the result would likely be programmatic digital out of home.”

How Does Digital OOH Set The Context For Creativity? 

Dwelling on creativity within the medium, Abhishek said that there’s a place for DOOH across the funnels with different uses. “We talk about the upper funnel and lower funnel but there is a place for DOOH to cut across the funnel. If you are running an awareness campaign it must contribute to understanding the exposed audiences that you can drive down to the funnel eventually, even through another channel.”

Meanwhile, Mahek Shah, Head, Account Management (airasia media group | airasia ads) echoed that dynamic content brings in relevance, elevates perception of the brand and builds trust. “Maybe it's a flight taking off, a show time, everything is a signal now and can be incorporated. Once you lay automation with these signals, you create magic - and that’s the power of programmatic,” she said. 

Kiron Kesav, Chief Strategy Officer, Omnicom Media Group on the other hand said that creativity to him was about capturing an audience's attention and eventually building salience for the brand. “One of the first automated DOOH campaigns we did for HP printers was alongside Moving Walls when DOOH was still testing this technology. We made use of dynamic creatives to suit the audience segment. The opportunities are endless and it all boils down to how granular we want to get with signals.” 

Measurement And Performance

A topic that captivated the attention of many was measurement. “Agencies are perhaps better prepared for digital transformation due to digital executions in the digital internet world but even with that there is a lot of learning to do in terms of how OOH works and the differences in Cost per measure (CPM) measurement in both digital and offline.” Kiron said that a question which comes up in client conversations is whether pDOOH actually works. “The reason for this is the credibility of the data. Digital has been around for some time and people have become comfortable with their level of trust but for pDOOH, if we can say there is enough data to support it, the credibility aspect is partly resolved.”

Mahek however said that pDOOH is still nascent and there still are a lot of questions regarding the data adding the lack of standardization is the crux of the problem. “It started out from click-bait and now we have accountable data, but we still need to prove it.” “A lot of media owners are afraid of this. What has happened is that we have agencies, clients and media owners who come up with a certain technology or methodology of their own to measure OOH. But in the midst of it there needs to be equality and fairness - accepted unconditionally by everyone in the industry,” Maaresh added. 

Abhishek said that this is akin to going from Gross Rating Point (GPR) to Cost per view (CPV) which took a decade. It has come to a point where the inflated prices do not live up to the hype of certain assets. “This is the level of accountability we need to talk about,” he said. “Clients have to be able to pay for the outcome and what it generates for a business. The onus is on us as agencies and marketers  to drive effective outcome measurement.” 


Questions From The Floor

Chief Executive Officer of Mindshare Group Malaysia, Sheila Shanmugam queries “How important is singular measurement in OOH?” 

Abhishek said that if the baseline measurement is the engine, the fuel is programmatic DOOH. Kiron agreed, adding that while measurement can be bespoke, measuring up attention, which is starting to attain buzzword status, can be a secondary currency in OOH. Meanwhile Maaresh said that the challenge is for media owners because technology keeps changing very rapidly. “Purchasing measurement technology is an investment, but how do asset owners get it back? On the flip side, the technology is a liability when it becomes outdated or replaced by a new layer.” 

Sheila posed her second question “Who is taking the role of ensuring legality in this uneven playing field?”

From the OOH association point of view,  Maaresh said that he is working with different councils, approving bodies and authorities to eliminate illegal boards. “The problem lies in enforcement, we don't have enough human resources. At the same time inconsistent policies of the government and regional councils also create a ripple effect.” All the panelists agreed that there is a need for industry stakeholders to consolidate and educate the market as a single cooperative unit. This is because they agreed that there needs to be a better consistency in measurement and reporting in OOH as a whole. 

Future Forward: Making pDOOH More Accessible

The panel then moved ahead to discuss another question posed by a member of the audience - on the complicated creative approvals process. Mahek suggests with the introduction of technology and Artificial Intelligence the process of manually evaluating creatives for language and constroversial content can be eliminated and a more seamless and efficient process can be adopted.  Mahek further adds that DOOH is an integral part of the omnichannel mix and is being integrated in many campaigns. “For agencies, it is crucial how OOH is conveyed and amplified in client conversations.”  Kiron believes that playing to the strength of OOH while reminding everybody of the nimbleness that programmatic DOOH is the key factor in bringing programmatic into the mainstream. 

True to the theme of this year's MMC, the panelists echoed sentiments adding that this era calls for increased flexibility. For agencies, brands and owners to face unforeseen changes with confidence. To be able to rest, recharge and reconnect in real time at a click of a cursor. 

Moving Walls would like to keep this conversation flowing, as it rolls out a borderless and self-service approach to activating creatives anywhere in the world. 


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