You’ve seen them everywhere now – video screens flashing like beacons in public spaces, asking for your attention.

What started as an absolute niche product a decade ago is fast becoming part of the mainstream media landscape – as digital screens fixed in varied public places deliver highly targeted campaigns and solid, sophisticated metrics. As a medium, it’s still finding its way just as online did, and starting to settle in as an offshoot of the Out Of Home category. If you are planning media for digital screens in retail and other targeted places, you are buying Digital Out Of Home, or DOOH.

Most of these networks are driven by entrepreneurs, retailers or media companies extending their business. They secure media agreements with retailers, public areas such as mass transit terminals and platforms, and well-defined environments like clinic waiting areas and restaurants. Screens in place, the networks deliver content programming that provides some information and entertainment value for viewers, which in turn provides value to the consumer, venue operator and to advertisers who want to reach that defined audience.

These networks intrigue brand advertisers for one particularly compelling reason: it can take the rich visuals video based content and the dynamic capabilities of online and mash that together on screens facing consumers in the most contextually powerful moments – when people are actually in stores shopping, or in places, like frequented throughout their daily activity, when targeted messages can be particularly meaningful.

These networks of screens, when well organized vertically and geographically, let planners be highly efficient in their targeting – getting the message in front of the audience that really matters, and tuning that message by things like demographic profile, dominant language, time of day or even reacting and adjusting based on things like POS transactions.

This is part of a brand new, on-demand experience that reaches consumers across multiple touch-points. Activities that might start on one medium get broadened by other mediums and then reach, using public screens, right into where people are gathering. Consider a beer product promotion targeting sports fan that starts with in-store POP and broadcast, drives people online, encourages people to enter and interact through mobile and social, and then pulls all that promotion together on targeted screens in sports bars, where the engagement can be driven even further.

In pure marketing terms, it has always made infinitely more sense to advertise goods in the immediate vicinity of where goods are sold. This is especially true considering today’s consumer behavior and media consumption patterns. Marketers get more excited by the notion of advertising when people are shopping, than they do pitching people when they’re comfortably lodged on a sofa. There is now plenty of evidence, from retailers as large as Walmart, showing screens in retail have a fully validated double-digit lift impact on promoted items.

Forecasts are just that, but industry analysts like PQ Media and BIA/Kelsey both predict high growth rates for digital OOH media spending. PQ Media expects a compound annual growth rate of 9.4% through 2014 in the U.S., while BIA/Kelsey says the medium will be a $3.7 billion business by 2013.

Author: Jeff Atley