The Past, Present, and Future of OOH Measurement

By Julia Cramer for Billboard Insider

Published: December 21, 2022

When some think of out-of-home (OOH), it’s hard to picture the one-to-many advertising medium as measurable against specific business objectives. But despite popular belief, the oldest form of advertising has received a programmatic makeover, revolutionizing how campaigns are measured!

Before we sink our teeth into how we measure campaigns today, let’s dive into the OOH measurement past to see where it all began.

Measurement Past: 

Traditional out-of-home advertising had inherent measurement limits prior to programmatic. Until 2011, OOH impressions were measured by a daily effective circulation (DEC), which is a rough estimation of the number of people who are exposed to a given advertisement. This 1930’s measurement was far from perfect, establishing it as a ‘vanity buy’ to most advertisers. Another issue this metric created was that it had to have a clear vantage point of the consumer; otherwise, it wouldn’t record the impression. According to the OAAA glossary, “[this tool] is no longer a credible measure of an OOH audience and is out of step with other media metrics.”

The Traffic Audit Bureau (TAB), now known as Geopath, introduced a new measurement metric to solve the DEC issue. This non-profit hosted a series of experiments where drivers had to wear goggles that tracked their eye movement. The assessment provided a percentage of drivers in a specific location who actually registered and read the advertisement. That percentage was calculated with the DEC, creating a variable adjustment index (VAI). VAI is the most up-to-date standard of measurement used for out-of-home advertising. In combination with census data, VAI helps determine if an advertisement is reaching a specific audience.

Measurement Present: 

While people spent time indoors during the pandemic, out-of-home has been launched into a viable programmatic channel. Advertisers and agencies demanded greater relevancy and measurement capabilities, which the DOOH community delivered! Programmatic DOOH not only tracks impressions, but with anonymized mobile location data, advertisers can now reach specific audiences on the most relevant screens. Similar to mobile and online campaigns, real-time performance provides insights into KPIs, including ad plays, impressions delivered, and eCPMs, and enables advertisers to optimize campaigns throughout flight dates. For larger campaigns, advertisers can receive KPI Performance Reports measuring the net lift on their specific business objectives, such as website visits and conversions, store visits, or mobile app downloads and in-app conversions.

Measurement Future: 

Programmatic DOOH has created a sense of measurement boundlessness that we wouldn’t have thought possible with traditional OOH. In his most recent article for OAAA, Place Exchange CEO Ari Buchalter predicts, “As more buyers and dollars are coming into OOH through programmatic pipes, demand will continue to grow for impression-based buying of OOH that is apples-to-apples with other media. Buyers will focus on impression measurement that is dynamic and up-to-date, applicable across all OOH venues and formats, and validated against transparent industry standards.” In essence, as technology in OOH advances, more brands and agencies will shift their demand towards programmatic OOH advertising. Because of this, Buchalter further states, “innovation around measurement will flourish, and OOH in 2023 will start to resemble other channels where buyers and sellers can choose from a marketplace of accredited measurement solutions.”


There’s a reason why OOH has stood the test of time. Despite the overall reduction in forecasted global ad spending for 2023, OOH has made a full global recovery, reaching $33.5 billion, according to the most recent Magna report. And that is all thanks to programmatic. Programmatic has become a game changer for this advertising channel, drastically improving measurement and allowing brands to choose the most optimal locations to reach their target audience at the right time. The future of out-of-home is looking promising and more measurable than ever!

Read the full story on Billboard Insider

Written By: Julia Cramer

To get the latest updates on out of home advertising, digital marketing and technology, follow us on:


Or sign up for our newsletter.

  • Post published:December 21, 2022
  • Post category:IN THE NEWS