DOOH, Duh, or Huh?

In my opinion, the term “Digital” Out of Home, or “DOOH” is becoming widely overused.  So much so that I think it dilutes the space, minimizes the impact of what can truly be done through technology outside of the home, and ultimately, confuses people – advertisers, marketers and brands alike. 

I look at the term through a simple lense.  Digital Out of Home (DOOH), to me, is nothing more than adding display technology to an otherwise static OOH installation.  So, let’s take a billboard for instance.  The standard OOH installation is a static billboard.  The digital OOH installation is created by simply adding some sort of display technology onto the the static billboard.  This can be through LEDs (as is the case with billboards), LCDs, plasmas, or projection.  It’s a finite list, but apply any of them to any static OOH installation and voila, you now have a digital version of said installation – Digital Out of Home. 

I think it’s important to make this distinction, especially with the introduction of other technologies that make our surroundings, including these billboards, come to life.  As mentioned in a previous post, I call these sorts of technologies enabling technology.  Right now, I think it, too, is a finite list, but it’s a bigger list than display technology.  RFID, for example, is an enabling technology.  GPS is an enabling technology.  Mobile, albeit more broad, is also an enabling technology.  But within mobile, I think you start to see a subset of enabling technologies like Augmented Reality, QR Codes, MS Tags, and Bluetooth.  Then, you have touch screen technology (single and multi-touch, even gesture-based) that is on the list, too.   The point is – these technologies enable personal interactions with an otherwise digital installation.  At this level, it is not Digital Out of Home to me.

I sense more and more that the industry and many of the players in it call everything Digital Out of Home just because it occurs outside of the home through any sort of technology.  But unless we start talking about it in consistent terms, how can we expect it to catch on and even grow?  Do you agree?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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