Digital Out-of-Home and Social Impact Messaging

Digital Out-of-Home Networks (DOOH) are underutilized video distribution channels for social impact messaging. DOOH networks are made up of screens in specific venue types that deliver advertising content in combination with informational and/or entertainment content. Because DOOH can scale online video content economically, and there is less fraud involved with these networks, I believe there is a strong case to be made for using DOOH to broaden the reach of online video content for social impact messaging.

Many DOOH networks have a lower CPM (cost per thousand impressions) than online pre-roll video spots, especially when working with non-profits and cause related messaging. Online pre-roll can be as expensive as $15 - $20 CPM for a :15 spot. The CPM becomes increasingly more expensive for more targeted campaigns, spots running before premium content, and/or whether or not the spot can be skipped. In contrast, many DOOH networks have scale and similar to online, maintain the flexibility to reach a broad or specific audience type. CPMs can vary widely, but in most cases will range from $1 - $10 depending on the network and timing of the campaign. If video assets have already been created for another effort, considering DOOH as an additional distribution channel for that content represents a logical extension of an online video messaging effort.

Another big advantage to DOOH is that the networks exist in the physical world. A non-profit can get into an elevator, or go to the gym, for example, and see their message running on the screens in real-time. This can be a bit harder in the online world, and non-profits can often be left wondering if a real person ever saw their spot online. According to, “a recent report from the Association of National Advertisers and WhiteOps predicts that traffic fraud will cost the advertising industry $6bn in 2015” (Wright). The money wasted on fake impressions is money that an advertiser cannot afford to lose, but it is particularly harmful to non-profits who have limited budgets. While there are no guarantees that spots on a DOOH network will be seen in their entirety, what can be guaranteed is the opportunity for those spots to be seen. DOOH spots play one at a time, and are not compressed or hidden on the screen. An advertiser knows that the spot will play, be visible on the screen, and receive even play time within the content loop.

Most recently, PVBLIC Foundation planned and managed a DOOH campaign in partnership with the White House and the Partnership for a Healthier America. The campaign was called “Drink Up” and was created to increase awareness for the health benefits associated with drinking water, as well as to increase the intent to consume more water. The campaign utilized digital screens in health clubs nationally. Nielsen conducted in-market research and concluded the strategy was successful in raising awareness about the health benefits associated with drinking water, in addition to increasing intent to drink more water. This research has been supported by the client’s repeat use of the medium in subsequent campaigns over the past 12 months.

We are seeing more and more consideration being given to DOOH networks from the non-profit community and we expect this trend to continue. Organizations are spending a lot of money on the production of quality video content and these networks are cost effective, easy to plan, and most importantly, they work!


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