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The Metrics of Digital Out-of-Home Advertising

The Metrics of Digital Out-of-Home Advertising

DOOH AdThe metrics of advertising become more and more muddled each year, from impressions to exposure to “dwell time.” What the heck is dwell time, anyway?

Digital out-of-home advertising is particularly complicated to measure because often both the ads themselves AND the target customers are dynamic, meaning they change over a given period of time. It’s understandable, then, that advertisers and ad hosts have a difficult time understanding exactly what data is useful for determining whether an ad or a digital display is worth it.

Let’s break down the most important metrics to know in digital out-of-home advertising…

Opportunity To See (OTS)
Also known as an “Average Unit Audience,” an Opportunity To See is essentially the likelihood that a potential customer has to see an ad shown in a digital OOH display. Three different qualities have to be present for this metric to be used: the customer has to be present in the area of the advertisement, the have to notice the advertising vehicle (like a Media Caddy Bar Caddy or a digital subway banner), and they have to have measurable dwell time. The higher the OTC is for any given media channel, the better the advertising investment.

Dwell TimeDwell Time
Dwell time is essentially the amount of time, usually measured in minutes, the average person is expected to spend in the area the advertising vehicle is placed. A digital bus stop ad, for example, likely has a dwell time of somewhere between 5-15 minutes, or as long as people typically wait for a bus. Media Caddy’s Bar Caddy bar-top digital displays conversely have a dwell time of nearly 52 minutes because people usually sit and linger at a bar or dining table. The higher the dwell time, the more likely your ad is to be seen (…and seen again).

TAB Out of Home Ratings
TAB is the “Traffic Audit Bureau for Media Measurement,” a non-profit organization who monitor out of home media consumption. TAB ratings are one of the few widely-accepted ratings systems for DOOH ads because they do a good job of measuring exactly how many people saw an outdoor ad, not just had the potential to see the ad. The TAB system is mostly used for digital and traditional billboard ad placement and the higher the ratings, the better the ad buy.

Impressions are, in essence, the number of times an ad is displayed in a given period of time. Most people measure impressions by the hour or the day, depending on the setting of the ad vehicle. The more people that pass through or linger in a given area in a particular period of time, the higher the impressions will be for a digital out of home advertisement.

One of the oldest measurements of an ad’s effectiveness, recall is the ability of a person who was exposed to an ad at some point or another to recall the ad or parts of the ad at a later date. Obviously, the longer recall an ad has, the better the ad itself (or perhaps the more memorable the delivery vehicle) was to the consumer. Digital place-based out of home advertising has some of the highest recall in the industry, at around 47% after a month’s time. Better recall means more customer recognition and more brand engagement, even a month after the ad was shown!


There’s no doubt DOOH advertising is one of the most exciting developments in the advertising industry in years but with change comes new challenges. Advertisers and media companies will continue to develop new ways to measure these ads’ effectiveness but in the meantime both advertisers and vehicle hosts will continue to reap the rewards of this new media channel.

Tell us, what measurements are most important to you when considering your advertising spend?