What OOH’s digital transformation means for us and the region, writes Viola‘s CEO, Ammar Sharaf There are hundreds of steps that go into the planning and buying of any given outdoor campaign, and to a certain extent those steps have historically been rather inefficient, for example in the way parties share information. However, OOH is currently undergoing a radical evolution, underpinned by the digital transformation taking place throughout the industry, which will dramatically change the way we look at, and benefit from, the process. It may seem obvious, but we need to examine the two facets of digitalisation in OOH that are the game-changers right now: the transformation of the workflow by automating the planning and buying of media, and the digitalisation of the platforms themselves, two extremely complementary developments which Viola Outdoor is leveraging in the region. First of all, then, it is important, when looking at the role that technology plays in the OOH arena to examine the management potential of so-called ‘big data’, primarily by making sure that the industry is staying up to speed with the tremendous influx of information that comes from the vast insights that we are able to uncover and understand based on mobile location and phone usage. It’s also important to know how to use the huge amount of data generated. In the currently fragmented advertising landscape, demand for data-led OOH is growing rapidly; advertisers want increased transparency, and more dynamic and accurate measurement and data-driven planning to guide their investments. Meanwhile, marketers are focused on two key areas, targeting and measurability, with the aim of unifying the customer journey by bringing various media channels together and delivering messages across multiple touchpoints. To get OOH to deliver on this omni-channel approach and be part of the process of customer conversion, we as media channel providers must measure up and deliver these important requirements. The digitalisation of the platforms enables us to look ahead from both an on- and off-line perspective. Still with the omni-channel consumer journey in mind, the impending demise of the third-party cookie will certainly mean that a bigger piece of the digital pie is available for OOH as its biggest selling proposition has always been its broadcast ‘one-to-many’ approach, as opposed to digital advertising, which looks for individual connections, where the objective is fundamentally different and more context-driven. Reaching consumers in real-time, when they’re in the right state of mind, used to be next to impossible in the one-to-many environment, but now innovative technologies have emerged to empower advertisers to connect with audiences in a direct, more human, memorable, and contextually relevant way. DOOH takes the best elements of traditional OOH and optimises them with cutting-edge technology, giving brands access to valuable insights and analytics beyond simple targeting. Taking things one step further, combining any existing first-party data with DOOH could enhance the user experience in even more personalised ways through which marketers can find powerful ways to engage with their desired audiences when and where it matters most. As regional OOH industry leaders working closely with marketers and brands, we at Viola are well positioned to go on this fascinating journey with our customers and spread awareness of the flexibility that digital platforms afford. Combining this with accurate data analytics and learned insights to ensure that relevant and targeted messaging is achieved in the right place, time and context, we can guide brands through the enhanced capabilities of the medium, maximising their effectiveness whilst shifting them from traditional thinking. DOOH is already altering the region’s advertising landscape, and as we adapt our thinking beyond the traditional boundaries we will see brands really experimenting and discovering what they’re capable of in this new space. We have seen the future of the outdoor space, how OOH uses software to be smarter and more agile about how it operates, and how it now works in tandem with other media channels to be able to digitally enhance and merge the broad experience of advertising, adding incredible value for the consumer while at the same time returning better insights and earning attribution for the advertisers; it is a very bright future and an exciting time for the industry, to which Viola Outdoor is proud to be a contributor.