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To understand the programmatic DOOH ecosystem, it’s important to understand what exactly programmatic advertising is and how it’s different across channels.

An (extremely) simple way to put it is programmatic digital advertising is a way that enables advertisers to purchase inventory at a moment's notice.

For a bit more context, marketers, advertisers and small business owners have more exposure to programmatic advertising than they realise. Every time you purchase Facebook, Instagram, Google or YouTube ads, you’re engaging in programmatic buying.

Unsplash - Stephen Phillips

These above examples are all what are known as demand-side platforms or DSPs. The place where the inventory is actually made available for purchase is known as the supply-side platform, or SSP. In regards to the services previously mentioned, their SSPs are Meta Ads and Google Ads.

Programmatic processes and technologies are present and picking up steam in the digital out-of-home advertising space too.

So why is programmatic picking up so much steam in the DOOH space? Simple, it’s accessible, measurable and affordable. The level of technical knowledge required to buy inventory is also being reduced heavily thanks to platforms like Caasie and Helio.

Demand Side Platform vs Supply Side Platform

The two main components of the programmatic DOOH ecosystem are the previously mentioned DSP and SSP, or demand-side platform and supply-side platform. Both of these platforms are needed for programmatic DOOH advertising.

Let's start with the SSP, this is where the advertising inventory will be bought via an auction system. In more traditional programmatic environments, this would include services such as Meta Ads & Google Ads. These platforms will generally take a percentage of the paid amount as a fee. Platforms like these two are familiar to many marketers and small business owners alike.

On the other hand, the DSP is where advertising inventory is viewed, such as between posts and stories, or before and during YouTube videos.

How does this all translate and work in the DOOH industry though? It’s a little bit more complex to understand as there are more moving parts and nuances as DOOH is a one-to-many channel.

The reason that programmatic DOOH is so different to more traditional online advertising is that DOOH adservers are much more like a two-way marketplace whilst the more typical digital adservers are selling their own assets.

Pexels - Brett Sayles

Accessing Programmatic DOOH Inventory As An Advertiser

Originally, access to programmatic digital out-of-home advertising was much harder to come by because of the way media owners had to set it up. Advertisers also want to be able to easily access measurement data and metrics of programmatic campaigns.

Each individual SSP had to be integrated with the DSP, this was both expensive and required a considerable amount of technical expertise. It also made it harder for advertisers to know where to go to buy specific inventory.

If you want your ad to show up on Google Search or YouTube, you know where to go and how to do it. If you want to put your ad on people’s Facebook or Instagram feeds, you know where to go and how to do it.

Digital signage on the other hand had a huge range of platforms that all offered different locations, not to mention they used different metrics and methods of selling that marketers and advertisers weren’t as educated about.

This is no longer the case as the DOOH industry has worked towards creating standardisation for measurement, along with adopting a share of time (SoT) selling methodology.

By creating and abiding by these standards, media owners and SSPs have made it easier for advertisers to know what they’re buying, but the issue of a fragmented marketplace still somewhat exists. At least it did until some recent changes in technology.

It’s also worth noting that as the industry has evolved, simpler and more user-friendly CMS platforms for accessing programmatic marketplaces have risen, such as the previously mentioned Caasie, or even Hivestack & Vistar (along with other, more geographically focused platforms).

As the market has evolved and changed, a new way to access a wide range of SSPs has become available thanks to the process known as mediation.

Freepik - fullvector

What Is Programmatic Mediation?

Programmatic mediation is a somewhat new term/process that has sprouted in the digital out-of-home space. It refers to multiple SSPs integrating together to provide a larger and more expansive range of screen inventory.

What this means is that media owners no longer have to install multiple pieces of SSP software, they just install one. This can then talk to all the integrated SSPs at once and select the highest bidder.

For advertisers, this means they don’t have to keep a huge list of SSPs, they can simply choose the one they’re most comfortable with operating and know that they will have access to a larger pool of screens.

The way that mediation works is by gathering all the top bids across different platforms, and having them bid against each other. During this mediation bidding process, the highest bidder wins and is granted access to the inventory. It’s not a perfect system (yet) as not every SSP is integrated with every other SSP.

Freepik - fullvector

The Future Of Programmatic DOOH

As it currently stands, programmatic DOOH isn’t going anywhere and is continuing to grow at an incredible rate. Mediation is the current shiny feature of programmatic and more SSPs are starting to incorporate and apply it.

The future of the programmatic ecosystem is mostly around metrics and standardisation, which are being adopted by more of the industry constantly.

Over the next few years it will likely become standard for all SSPs to use the same metrics and employ a certain level of mediation. Other than that though, we can’t speculate too much about the technological changes that are bound to happen to the DOOH programmatic ecosystem.


The programmatic ecosystem is constantly evolving and has recently been making a lot of progress, especially in regard to creating a more open and measurable advertising environment.

DOOH is becoming more comparable with online advertising, and marketers, advertisers and small business owners are starting to delve into the world of programmatic DOOH.

If you’re a small business owner or media owner, contact us today to learn more about the SSPs we support, along with our CMS capabilities.


Understanding The Programmatic DOOH Ecosystem

22 August 2023 at 1:21:46 am

Understanding The Programmatic DOOH Ecosystem
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