Automated trading has been a long time coming for the out-of-home (OOH) industry. This month saw a significant step forward as Kinetic, the7stars’ outdoor media partner, launched its automated trading platform, bringing together all major OOH media owners for the first time.

Automated trading of outdoor formats was first trialed in the UK in 2015, with OOH tech pioneer Bitposter leading the charge. But the explosion of digital out-of-home (DOOH) is starting to make programmatic elements a reality. DOOH spend was up 25% in Q3 alone last year (AA/Warc), contributing to a 5% increase in outdoor ad spend across the year, out-pacing the total ad market.

Kinetic’s offering, developed with Bitposter, will provide an integrated trading platform to all major media owners, including JCDecaux, Clear Channel UK, Primesight and Exterion Media. The automated platform will be used alongside Kinetic’s own planning system and sites will be bought via a private marketplace.

The platform will provide a more efficient and streamlined means of buying DOOH. For now, the platform allows Kinetic to access availability across media owners in real-time, replacing the lengthy process of briefing media owners manually. Booking will then take place via the same platform.

Digitisation of outdoor sites has led the way for dynamic campaigns and flexible buying – a necessary improvement on the standard two-week cycles of paper-and-paste sites. Automated trading is expected to open outdoor up to even more innovation, such as real-time tactical campaigns.

The automated platform also goes some way to integrating trading with the reams of data now available, and represents a step forward in the industry’s move from site-based trading to audience-based trading. If audience data can be integrated into the trading platform, buying strategies such as geo-demographic targeting or contextual optimisation will be made possible.

But automated trading also brings its own set of challenges.

Media owners have made it clear they will protect the value of their proposition. So unlike digital, where programmatic was borne out of an excess of inventory, automation in outdoor allows improved targeting and flexibility, rather than cut-price media buys. There is also the issue of misplacement of ads, or display of inappropriate content. Industry leaders will need to develop an automated approval system alongside the trading platform.

Despite these challenges, Kinetic’s platform opens up the future possibilities of programmatic, or OOH’s version of, and could revolutionise the trading of DOOH.
With thanks to Julia Dobbin from Kinetic