State of Programmatic DOOH: From Mainland China to Rest of the World


We are at the midpoint of 2023 and Programmatic Digital Out of Home (DOOH) is showing no sign to slow down. In April’s blog post, our Adtech & Programmatic Committee Team Lead Sally shared an excellent showcase of a programmatic DOOH campaign in Hong Kong. For this blog post, I would like to take a more macro approach and look at the state of programmatic DOOH in Mainland China, and extend further to the rest of the world, to give everyone some food for thought for the outdoor opportunities that lie ahead for the rest of the year.

Programmatic DOOH has emerged in Hong Kong since late 2020 and pioneering marketers braved the trend and got the first taste of it. There are many angles to look at the benefits: the efficiency, the flexibility, the completion of an omnichannel strategy. All of them are very valid points and have proved to add intrinsic and incremental value to any campaigns. While we can boast all the successful cases and campaigns around the world, in Mainland China, we do need similar campaigns locally to give marketers a reason to jump on the bandwagon. Trust me though, once the trend is set, it will exponentially go through the roof and programmatic DOOH will become the new darling in the market.

In Mainland China, while it is still in its early stages in terms of programmatic DOOH (according to a survey, in 2022, 24% of media professionals in China have planned or invested in programmatic DOOH, comparing to 51% in global markets including the UK, US, Australia, Germany and France), the potential of targeting accurately and the flexibility of programmatic features still prove to be a promising medium to increase investments. A lot of the industry professionals and leaders are optimistic about the future of programmatic DOOH. They are actively developing internal talents and building the technological foundations, with nearly 90% of them ready to increase their investments on expertise and measurement capabilities. With that said, we are going to see a much faster growth rate in adoption rate for programmatic DOOH in 2023, which is projected to be about 31%.

As stated by a marketing professor in Shanghai, the “Smart City” development trend in China is one of the key advantages that programmatic DOOH will thrive. The new infrastructure is being built with ample investment and digital is on top of most city officials’ minds. The image of a new digital city is of utmost importance and it can leave audiences a lasting impression for global brands to run memorable and socially viral DOOH campaigns. And in the near future, programmatic trading, with the capability of targeting the right audience in the right place and at the right time, will only drive the momentum further and at a much quicker pace.

To achieve an even broader and more rapid programmatic DOOH adoption in China, these 3 things are crucial:

  1. Education in the market to spread knowledge and understand the key benefits. Brands in China need to admit and feel the impact of this new technology, by focusing on the fundamentals of programmatic DOOH and the insights gained. Internationally, media professionals are more excited about learning how the use of data and omni-channel attribution with programmatic DOOH can help meet their campaign goals.

  2. Evaluation of programmatic DOOH impact: one challenge now is that we do not have industry standards and accepted metrics in mainland China to measure the ROI of programmatic DOOH campaigns. While most digital agencies are experts in measuring performances in other channels programmatically, it cannot be applied yet in programmatic DOOH. 

  3. Measurement and data granularity, when it becomes more readily available, will be the trust marketers can rely on and apply to prove the value of programmatic DOOH. More targeting options and any additional insights into the customer journey will undoubtedly enhance the role of programmatic DOOH in any multi-channel campaigns and one that marketers cannot ignore in planning.


As outdoor audiences recover in mainland China, as in the rest of the world, the need for OOH advertising grows. It makes programmatic DOOH increasingly essential. It offers precision, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, all of them are key for brands' multi-channel marketing strategies. Programmatic DOOH's integration with other digital channels like social media and Connected TV (CTV) ads allows brands to attain full-fledged objectives. The growing demand for programmatic DOOH in mainland China has underscored the importance of data and measurement. The industry anticipates further market validation to bolster the adoption of this emerging media channel. Exciting times ahead and we all look forward to seeing more and more immersive and relevant programmatic DOOH campaigns in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Tokyo, London, Paris, New York, and other major cities around the globe.


State of the Nation, Mainland China (2023)

Author: Kevin Leung, Head of Operations of VIOOH China (IAB Hong Kong AdTech & Programmatic Committee)

Kevin Leung

Please address any questions or comments about this blog to Alvina Chan, Secretariat Office, IAB (Hong Kong) -