How DOOH Advertising Transformation Empowers SMBs

Outdoor advertising (OOH) is both the simplest and most complex form of advertising. From humble beginnings as posters and flyers, we are now entering the next evolution: Digital OOH (DOOH), which includes everything from digital billboards to interactive advertisements at local bus stops.

DOOH elevates traditional OOH by enabling advertisers to deliver the personalized advertising experiences customers expect in their online environments. This revolution has transformed the static billboard into an interactive customer experience – and it’s clear that advertisers are recognizing the opportunity of this transformation. Projected ad spend for DOOH ads will increase to $15.9 billion by 2027, an increase of more than $9 billion since 2019.

More importantly, however, the rise of DOOH could make OOH more accessible to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that typically couldn’t afford a weeks-long physical poster campaign. DOOH provides the accessibility these businesses need to enter this advertising space, enabling them to enjoy reported ROIs of up to $5.00 for every dollar spent.

Supporting SMEs also serves the interests of advertising publishers. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that SMBs were responsible for most of the unprecedented 35% growth in digital ad spend last year – and there is no sign that this will change.

It’s time to embrace DOOH’s role as an enabler for small business and community commerce – and it’s time for leaders in the advertising space to deliver platforms that enable this evolution.

Understanding DOOH Today

Like traditional OOH advertising, DOOH aims to capture the eyes of potential consumers as they go through their days. It might look like advertising in Times Square, but in smaller communities it might also look like advertising at the local commuter train stop or on the main freeway.

The main difference of DOOH is its format. It replaces the physical poster or billboard with a digital screen, which expands the flexibility offered to advertisers both in terms of ad style and placement. DOOH ads can move around, react to local weather, and even interact directly with potential customers. Without physical advertising, advertisers can focus their budget on the most impactful places and times.

Just like the rest of the world, this industry also had to prove its resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic. As DOOH lost the reliable sights of commuter traffic, these customers also turned to the outdoors for safer socializing. And as the world settles into a new post-Covid-19 normal, DOOH is on the rise again and free to reinvent itself. This next chapter of OOH must offer real accessibility to SMEs.


To provide this kind of accessibility, DOOH platforms must understand the distinct needs of SMBs and create systems capable of accommodating a higher volume of advertisers. This allows anyone – not just a few local businesses that can afford an expensive, long-term campaign – to take advantage of the opportunities provided by DOOH. These changes may look like this:

  • Self-service interfaces designed for business acumen, not technological expertise: SMBs are experts in their products or services and their customers. However, they may not have the kind of in-house technology or design expertise to create digital campaigns from scratch. Platforms can remove this barrier for SMEs by creating interfaces that cater to non-experts.
  • A wider range of ad placement options, time, and budget: Part of fulfilling SMBs is providing them with the tools they need to build the advertising strategy they know will resonate with them. of their customers. SMB advertisers know who their customers are, where to reach them, and when ads will arrive effectively. Don’t force a small advertiser, who may have a more conservative budget, to buy ad space that they won’t be using. Instead, provide an interface that allows advertisers to customize a campaign that meets their needs and ensures that every dollar contributes to their ROI.

Supporting these changes with self-service technology also provides a more customizable ad buying experience overall, while easing the burden on individual employees. By funneling a higher volume of potential advertisers into a supportive and more automated process, employees are freed to focus on providing personalized attention to advertisers who want this experience.

Every medium has its part to play in the evolution of digital advertising, and DOOH has the power to unlock audiences and advertisers previously overlooked by the OOH industry. Partnering with self-service interfaces, SMBs are free to execute advertising strategies that maximize ROI on every dollar without flooding platforms with volume they can’t handle. If DOOH is to match the digital advertising industry’s ad spend growth in 2021, it’s time to center SMBs and build the right structures to support them.

Johan Liljelund is CTO and EVP of DanAds. He is an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience developing technology for the media industry. He was a pioneer in the digital advertising industry enabling publishers to streamline and optimize their internal processes in a global marketplace, and is now digitizing the media industry through self-service and automation.

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