The Year Ahead for OOH

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By Philip Matta, Group COO at W Group

W Group COO Philip Matta shares his insights on the Out-of-Home media scene in 2023, in the following feature in Campaign Middle East.

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising has brought the UAE region to the threshold of revolution in the past few years, notably in 2022 where the emergence of innovations such as 3D immersive screens changed the way brands run their campaigns.

Today, the breed of new technologies and changing consumer patterns are still spawning a non-stop paradigm shift in the landscape. So, what is next for the OOH industry in the year ahead?

Data and programmatic

The UAE has witnessed a boom in digital OOH advertising, which has driven the dire need for data implementation. Audience measurement and analytics based on impressions are enabling brands to measure the impact of their digital OOH (DOOH) advertising on both the upper-funnel and lower-funnel KPIs.

According to Hypermedia, a subsidiary of W Group, end-to-end measurement is now possible and will be more and more refined to help marketers meet their campaign goals at their convenience most effectively. It calls for in-depth adaptation and exploration of analytics, which is why programmatic is another asset to build upon. With the largest network of data-powered assets in the UAE, Hypermedia is endowing brands with the maximum benefits.

While the region is trailing behind this advancement compared with the international market, bringing it into being will allow marketers to grasp a solid 360-degree grip on their DOOH campaign strategies and performance across all venue types. This is better than data coming through unique reporting from each publisher and conducting the analysis – more practicality and more efficiency.

Tech-based smart signages

With a focus on realistic representation, digital signage in ads is opening new possibilities for attracting clients’ attention. Also powered by real-time data, it is becoming even more interactive through affordability and new technology features such as touchscreen, 3D technology and the internet of things (IoT).

Consumers may easily view a broad range of products and even digitally ‘try on’ products. We are moving towards a further enhancement of user experience and consumer journeys by making campaigns more engaging and bolstering brands’ interactivity with consumers.

The UAE digital signage market – which was valued at about $422m in 2017 – is now projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 18 per cent to cross $1.14bn by 2023. A trend today, digital signage is set to be a consistent pattern in the future.

As new technologies arise, we are likely to see more interactive and efficient signage that goes beyond facial recognition, smart-trigger or sociodemographic advertising. The future potential of digital signage is a range of technology revolution trends that will definitely tap into automation, touch-screen innovation, cloud-based deployment, augmented reality, interactive media, social media interaction and wayfinding technologies, personalization and much more.

This will all further engage consumers with brands with an amusing touch. OOH stands on the tipping point between data, digital and experiential. However, creating an experiential ecosystem and posing a focus on storytelling through the display of content is the road ahead, with technology carrying the torch.

We are already seeing these changes. Being one of the few tech companies in OOH in the region, DigitAll – the tech arm of W Group – has played a big role in this evolution. Specializing in signage consultancy, it has been employing the latest technologies including data and audience analytics coupled with its smart technology solutions such as 3D content, 3D renders, augmented reality and much more to push the user to actually enjoy the ad while exploring the brand’s offerings.

Regional Growth Appeal

While the UAE has picked up speed in adapting to digitization and new technologies, many media owners are still lagging. However, agencies are responding gradually to these golden opportunities and embracing everything up and coming in the OOH market to improve their marketing and advertising framework with the rising input of tech companies. Though traditional advertising remains, we must say that the shift is already happening and will show no sign of slowing down.

The UAE is a regional frontrunner in DOOH advertising due to countless strategic locations, the appetite of international companies for brand awareness and the country’s favorable creative culture. Dubai is harnessing OOH advances in Dubai Metro, eminent malls and outdoor spaces. Brands are clocking up the success of their marketing performance one after the other.

Media suppliers are being drawn to look for the same outcomes in neighboring countries within the GCC. W Group is driven by its vision of becoming the leading tech media company in the OOH sector in the region. To expand its impact, it is focusing on many golden opportunities that could be reaped in other cultural environments.

OOH is already holding sway in the UAE and is moving at breakneck speed. By 2050, 68 per cent of the world population will be living in smart cities, with the UAE set to be at the forefront of housing full-fledged smart cities. The world needs to stay in continuous disruption to align with this dynamism. As such, media suppliers should be able to keep up and unveil the full aptitude of OOH to achieve further qualitative leaps in the region.

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