How the domestic market is driving the growth of programmatic DOOH in China

Digital Out of Home (DOOH) has taken China by storm in recent years and is not looking like it will slow down any time soon. The channel currently makes up 30% of the country’s total out-of-home valuation of 9 billion USD. However, it is expected to flourish even further, with the Chinese DOOH market predicted to be worth 6.1 billion USD by 2027.

Technology, most notably, programmatic DOOH advertising technology is one factor that is supporting growth in the channel across the region. Its precise targeting and measurement capabilities and flexibility are enticing for both local and global brands looking to advertise in market. China also has a large availability of outdoor displays, estimated to have a higher reach than TV for consumers aged 15-45.

But the Chinese market is uniquely difficult to navigate. Local partners have led the way in opening the space up to global brands. This symbiotic relationship has not only given global players the expertise needed to navigate the market, but also expanded the capabilities of these in-market experts.

Boots on the ground: The Importance of leveraging local partners

Unlocking the power of programmatic DOOH in China requires global brands to tackle some distinctive challenges. The first is how to navigate the online security network known as The Golden Shield. Known to the rest of the world as the Great Firewall, this combination of legislative actions and technologies was put in place by the People’s Republic of China to domestically regulate the internet. In turn, it poses challenges for brands and agencies who do not operate locally to activate and run their advertising campaigns within the strict boundaries of the law.

Legislation within the region can create unnecessary hassles for global brands. China’s Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) and compliance certification including the Safe Grade Protection Level make the handling of data needed to run successful programmatic DOOH campaigns tricky for those without detailed knowledge of the market. Without addressing both these issues, global brands cannot even run a programmatic DOOH campaign, let alone make it a success within China.

Fortunately, domestic media agencies and partners can immediately prove their worth. They not only have infrastructure that can function behind the Golden Shield, but can give invaluable knowledge on how to navigate data laws and restrictions. Local partners can give global brands the platform to create agile, scalable, and targeted programmatic DOOH campaigns by safely handling and activating the data needed to reach the right set of consumers.

An omnichannel future: How local providers can evolve programmatic DOOH

Out of home has traditionally not been seen as part of an omnichannel strategy. Its lack of granular measurability has meant that it has been used mostly for brand awareness campaigns. With budgets worldwide under closer scrutiny, the ability to measure impact has become a must have across all media and has required OOH to adapt to this in order to hold its place within the media mix.

The data-targeting and measurement capabilities of programmatic DOOH means that OOH now has utility across the entire consumer funnel, from awareness to performance based outcomes.

Though performance-based models across DOOH are still quite nascent in the Chinese market, local providers can help to lead the way in building best practices to approach the channel with fresh perspectives and expertise. As the advancement of technology and players within the landscapes continues to grow, the capacity for the industry-wide testing, research and collaboration needed to bring programmatic DOOH into the omni-channel mix in China can be achieved.

For an indicator of how powerful this could be, it is worth examining the wider APAC region. OTT video, for example, has proved to be a perfect partner to programmatic DOOH in the wider region. With the Chinese market set to be worth 16.7 billion USD in 2022, it is the largest in APAC. In the near future, advertisers could harness both channels in a dual-screen approach, using the measurement capabilities of programmatic DOOH to track consumers across these previously disjointed touchpoints.

Harnessing retail: Why programmatic brings targeting and measurement to DOOH

China’s ever-expanding purchasing power is helping to push its retail sector to higher and higher levels with retail set to grow by 6% in 2022. In such a competitive and crowded market, programmatic DOOH can give an edge thanks to its ability to reach the right audiences and direct them to stores.

Contextually relevant messaging can be a powerful way to turn heads. Programmatic DOOH allows marketers to change messaging rapidly around customer triggers such as density, lifestyle factors, proximity to landmarks, or even the weather. Programmatic DOOH customizing messaging for events can also prove effective. Singles Day, for example, gained record sales in China in 2021. Local in-market partners can leverage programmatic DOOH to give global brands access to highly sought-after inventory during days such as these.

Audiences are also able to be targeted by historical data, such as audience movement patterns and consumer behavior. Analyzed via anonymised mobile IDs, specific audience segments can be defined by brands through inputs such as affinity, personas, footfall density, and dwell-time generated from their local programmatic partner’s data sources.

In-market partners can bring programmatic DOOH’s measurement capabilities to life thanks to their knowledge of local market nuances, practices and privacy rules. Factors such as awareness, consideration, intent and visitation can be gathered and analyzed via the aforementioned anonymised mobile IDs, providing full funnel opportunities for advertisers.

The knowledge of locally-operated programmatic partners is invaluable to global brands wanting to expand into programmatic DOOH in China. The ‘outside-in’ strategy benefits both brands and their domestic partners. By bringing incremental value and investment from out-of-market buyers to local media owners knowledge and expertise can be expanded within China, leading to the power of programmatic DOOH further expanding.