DOOH Proof Of Play Dethroned as the Digital Atom Of Accountability

Digital Ninjas, what’s up?!

Parisien here in beautiful Paris, France. Did you know proof of play is in the process of being dethroned as the atom of accountability in digital out-of-home?

Today is the dawn of a new day for proof of play as the programmatic revolution, driven by the convergence of all digital media into one programmable platform, sweeps through digital out-of-home transforming much in its wake. What does this mean? I will explain myself in three parts. First, I will recap proof of play and its historical value. Second, I will expose the false equivalency between digital out-of-home’s atom of accountability and that of its digital cousins. Finally, I will point to how accountability compatibility will be achieved in the coming years.


For historical reasons, out-of-home media owners have considered proof-of-performance to mean proof that the ad was posted on the asset. This applies to out-of-home classic, where solutions like Ayuda Media Systems launched one of the first platforms to track photographic proof that the poster was pasted correctly on the billboard. It transitioned into digital out-of-home where solutions such as BroadSign launched one of the first platforms to track electronic proof that the digital ad was not only played, but that the screen was on when it played.

Evidence of this nature makes sense under the current paradigm in which a media owner’s responsibility starts and ends with the job of posting the ad. The results, post-facto, are in the realm of the creative’s performance… But are they?

Out-of-home companies lure advertisers to buy media from them by packaging their ad inventory with quantitative and qualitative information about the audience, so shouldn’t they be responsible for that info’s veracity? These companies pay good money to commission studies to get this information, so I am not claiming anyone is negligent or misleading in this regard. Instead, I am making the case that the industry is undergoing a paradigm shift – one which will affect more mature digital out-of-home markets such as the UK, the US and Australia, first, but which will affect all markets in time.

This shift is driven by the false equivalency of proof of play to the atom of accountability in every other digital channel: the viewable impression. The false equivalency comes from the fact that in other digital channels, ad play logs can be used as ad view logs because by the nature of mobile, social and desktop advertising, there is only one person viewing that ad when it is played. The focus in other digital channels is on making sure the ad was viewable. In digital out-of-home, each ad play generates multiple ad views, so the atom of accountability shifts from proving the ad played to proving the ad was seen (or at least that it could be seen).

So, is proof of play dead? Not exactly. For a real-time digital audience measurement system like Quividi to take the reins, it needs to rest on the foundation of a CMS’s industry-standard ability to prove the ad was displayed. Proof-of-play is vital context to the impression logs being generated by any third party accountable audience data provider. By combining a content platform with an audience platform, you get a true end-to-end digital platform for out-of-home which provides accountability compatibility with the other digital media.

Digital out-of-home not digital enough? Not any more!

Alright ninjas! This has been DOOH Decoded telling you why proof of play is in the process of being dethroned as the atom of accountability in digital out-of-home. And remember, you heard it here first!

Shinobi seeing you!