How to Measure Traditional and Digital Out-of-Home CPG Advertising

OOH is often the last media channel added to an CPG advertising campaign and the first to get slashed when budgets tighten – and it was particularly hard hit during the early days of the pandemic. That’s because it’s been thought of as a spray-and-pray way to reach consumers that’s difficult to link to sales.

But now digital out-of-home (DOOH) has become the new ‘cool kid’ in the advertising world and is part of a media channel that has become more sophisticated and easier to measure. Traditional OOH was expected to grow by 10% in 2021, the strongest growth of any offline advertising medium. The global DOOH ad market is expected to grow by 13% annually through the end of this decade, according to It is gaining popularity because it’s a flexible, cost-effective way to reach a large audience, and through programmatic buying can now be bought in the same manner as other advertising channels such as mobile and connected television.

Data-driven media activation and closed loop measurement are new to the OOH marketplace, but increasingly important as the industry looks to become part of the mainstream media mix. However, many brand marketers and retailers are under-valuing OOH’s ability to not only build awareness but drive purchase because they have lacked data to target and measure. Was that billboard for Coca-Cola on the side of the interstate seen by the most valuable shoppers? Did it cause a shopper to pick up a six-pack at the grocery store? It was once hard to tell.

Today, marketers can partner with data analytics firms to use more granular purchase-based targeting for both traditional and digital OOH that creates borderless engagement and seamless integration into broader media plans. Brands now can amplify messages delivered in other channels with the enhanced scale and reach of OOH, which leads directly to purchase-oriented engagement in-store. The question of whether a shopper picked up a six-pack of Coca-Cola after seeing a billboard ad can now be answered and marketers can also uncover additional insights about who responded to the ad.

How is OOH measured?
Until recently, OOH targeting and measurement relied upon practices such as census-based demographics and footfall data to determine the ideal placement of media, as well as location-based foot traffic studies to estimate and measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns.

These methods no longer work for CPG advertisers since the demographic data fails to identify actual consumer purchase preferences for specific brands. Meanwhile location-based foot traffic studies highlight when a consumer visited a grocery store but don’t tell whether a purchase of an advertised product is made.

Through sophisticated modeling and geolocation data, marketers can now tie a person who saw an OOH ad to a purchase in-store.

How should you evaluate an OOH measurement partner?
It’s important to answer these key questions when selecting a measurement partner.

What data coverage does the partner have?
Look for a partner who can deliver scaled data based on first-party point-of-sale data versus relying primarily on panel or purchase intent data. They should have broad geographic coverage as well as coverage in key verticals where your product is sold. With the rise in e-commerce sales, it’s important to understand the partner’s coverage in this area as well.

What types of data does the partner have?
Seek out granular data at scale about a broad range of performance metrics that go beyond the traditional sales lift and Return on Ad Spend. Buyer-level insights provide valuable information that can demonstrate effectiveness for objectives such as new item trial where traditional metrics fall flat. Additionally, understanding the impact on buyer behavior enables you to target the next OOH campaign more efficiently.

What investment is required to qualify for a study?
Measurement is trickier in OOH because it’s a one-to-many instead of a one-to-one medium, often requiring a higher media investment. Look for a partner who offers a variety of measurement offerings at various investment levels.

What other advertising channels does the partner measure?
As out of home seeks to find its spot among other media channels, a firm understanding of cross-channel measurement is an important quality in a partner. However, as noted above, out of home is nuanced so it’s important to seek out a partner who doesn’t apply a one size fits all approach to its various measurement channels.

How do I make sure I’m getting the best OOH measurement?
OOH measurement is more complex than many other advertising channels so it’s important to find a partner who not only understands how all media channels are measured but also the nuances of the OOH space. Look for an OOH measurement product that provides insight into sales impact as well as the behaviors of the buyers who were exposed to media across a wide range of investment levels. Seek out one who can move faster than the industry norm with a personalized solution. The right partner will give marketers a one-stop way to maximize speed and flexibility, target more efficiently, and measure traditional and digital OOH at scale.

To learn more about Catalina’s OOH capabilities, visit our Media & Activation solutions page.