OpenDirect 1.5.1: what does it mean?

Last month, Outsmart and the IPA’s outdoor specialists announced the publication of OpenDirect (OOH) 1.5.1, a programmatic direct trading standard for the OOH industry. Building on the IAB Tech Lab’s OpenDirect structure, this new standard will become the go-to source of information for those outside the industry to connect with OOH and incorporate it into their plans. It’s a wide-ranging document and if you’ve opened the specification you’ll know there’s a huge amount in there to decipher.

But the idea behind the new OpenDirect OOH extension isn’t to complicate things. Quite the opposite. It’s about creating a common framework that simplifies how we connect with each other and then with new revenue. It lays the foundations for smarter and easier trading of OOH.

This is something we at Signkick have been championing for a long time. But not only have we been championing a more connected OOH ecosystem, we’ve been building these connections on behalf of our media owners. So if you’re one of our customers (or thinking about becoming one!) you might be wondering how the new specifications change things. 

In this article we’ll take a straightforward look at what the release of the OpenDirect OOH extension means for everyone in the industry, how our existing connections to media buyers work under this new standard and, importantly, what every business needs to do to realise the benefits.

What the OpenDirect extension mean for OOH?

The OOH extension allows the existing OpenDirect standard to account for the difference between digital space and D/OOH space. Something that has plagued the industry for some time. The spec seeks to incorporate the many ‘real world’ attributes of OOH – that it is in the real world with real frames each with different physical characteristics. Look out for these attributes termed ‘OOHbjects’ within the spec.

Secondly, the OpenDirect OOH extension lays the foundations for handling new and constantly evolving ways to plan and trade OOH. This is critical in our quest for new revenue as it outlines a standardised way to accommodate the vast array of trading methods. It also offers an alternative to the at times complex SSP, DSP, Exchange structure. This means if your clients want to trade in impacts, it’s covered by OpenDirect. If they want to trade non-guaranteed space, the standard is there. Guaranteed, frames, plays, fixed-time, revenue-based booking. The framework for how you can build your system to cope with basically any way your client might want to trade is outlined in the spec. Simply put, it helps you to speak to your clients in the language they are used to working in.

What does it mean for Signkick customers?

While the OpenDirect OOH Standard has made a big contribution to improving the workflows associated with transacting OOH. There is still work to be done to first create, then maintain, the connection between buyer and seller.

Given our business is all about building these connections, something we’ve been banging on about for a while, you might be wondering what this latest release means for our customers.

In short, our existing connections are still 100% open for business. Most are built around the previous version of the OpenDirect standard and will quickly incorporate the new extension. For our existing customers these connections will continue to operate seamlessly and mean you already have the foundations in place to accommodate any way your clients would like to buy in the future. 

What the OpenDirect extension doesn’t do

Think of the OpenDirect OOH extension as plans for a house. They outline where and how the foundations should be laid and where and how to build the roof and walls. But until someone picks up a shovel and builds the house, no one can live there. The OpenDirect extension lays out the way we should be building our systems and processes in order to accommodate different ways of trading. But it doesn’t build them.

Furthermore, the specification outlines every possible trading model, so it is up to each individual company to decide which parts they will embrace. This is where communicating with your trading partners is critical. Just as a standard is nothing without the system to implement it, a system is nothing without someone on the other end of the transaction. A house only becomes a home when there is someone living in it!

This is where it really starts to get interesting. Right now, you and your trading partners may only be interested in trading frames. By using the OpenDirect standards to build this capability now, you’re also laying the foundations so that when a future buyer approaches you looking to buy in impacts or CPMs, you’re already most of the way there. 

So while the release of the OpenDirect extension doesn’t change everything straight away, it does signal the start of an important period of work for every business in OOH. Now is the time to speak with your trading partners. To get the wheels in motion. Because by embracing the OpenDirect framework in the way we trade now, you’re laying the foundations for accommodating the future of OOH trading. And that’s your golden ticket to new revenue. 

Working in this space for some time and having recently been included in the Technical Standards Committee on Clear Channel’s behalf, we know the benefit every media owner will realise by embracing the standards. To understand more about using the standards to future-proof your business, feel free to get in touch with us at Signkick, Outsmart or one of the IPA specialists – Posterscope, Talon, Kinetic or Rapport.

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