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OOH Industry Snapshot: by James Harrison

Integrating new technologies with Out of Home (OOH) advertising has significantly boosted the industry, from the use of data and AI to the advancements in LED technology.

Interestingly, data quality and utilisation were not prominent considerations for the UAE market until 2019, but have become widely discussed topics.

As we accumulate more data from our landlords and third-party suppliers and deepen our comprehension of its potential, we are better equipped to leverage this for the continued growth of the OOH advertising sector.

We can’t talk about technology without talking about AI, but is it really being used in the OOH sector? I can confirm that it’s here and assisting us; to predict traffic flows with AdMobilize, analyse content to enhance creativity with Neurons, and gauge attention through eye tracking to optimise content in real-time through AdMobilize and Broadsign.


We have observed a digital trend worldwide, and it is now unfolding right here as well. Through a market assessment and a deep understanding of the environmental factors, we have successfully installed industry-leading DOOH screens capable of withstanding even the harshest conditions.

BackLite’s transition from traditional static billboards to dynamic digital screens has marked a transformative era in content delivery, empowering advertisers with real-time updates plus flexibility and standout campaigns.

This transformation has fostered a culture of creative innovation, manifesting in captivating FP3D campaigns and interactive features that engage audiences.

Our integration with cutting-edge technologies such as live-data feeds and location-based services has allowed us to target audiences and deliver contextually relevant content.

We recognise that digitisation alone isn’t sufficient. To truly excel, we’ve incorporated data into our strategy, providing clients with comprehensive reports highlighting metrics like playouts, impressions, reach, and frequency, enabling them to make informed decisions and maximise their impact.


Globally: Surreal Billboards in the UK – Social Buzz. Locally: Lego on SZR – May the 4th be with you. Special Build, Timing and Relevance


They are increasingly seeking more data-driven and results-oriented solutions. They are asking for better audience targeting capabilities to ensure their messages reach the right people at the right time.

The demand for Programmatic Digital Out of Home (PrDOOH) is also on the rise, as it provides the efficiency and flexibility to optimise campaigns in real time.

Also, they are looking for creative and interactive OOH formats that can captivate audiences and make their brands stand out, like branded billboards, special builds and FP3D content for a social media buzz.

Overall, clients seek innovative, data-backed, and engaging OOH advertising solutions to drive tangible results for their marketing efforts.


With the journey towards PrDOOH, we have established an ecosystem that provides comprehensive data sources and solutions, catering to our clients at every stage of the marketing funnel; we call this BackLite 360.

Our commitment extends to embracing automation through programmatic campaigns, where we list our inventory on Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) and Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs), allowing brands to incorporate our screens into their omnichannel campaigns seamlessly.


MENA Power List 2023: Building an ecosystem where innovation thrives

Campaign Middle East recently covered industry movers and shakers from the advertising, marketing and creative space for our MENA Power List 2023 issue and there was a strong sense of optimism about the region’s landscape for marketers to flourish.

James Bicknell, CEO, BackLite Media

“Bicknell has been the CEO for BackLite Media for 14 years and spends his time planning the next stage of the firm’s rapid growth. He enjoys traveling with family and playing golf”

In the dynamic world of business, where the only constant is change, the landscape of marketing in the UAE has undergone a remarkable transformation, with innovation emerging as the cornerstone of success.

As the CEO of the UAE’s leading Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) advertising company, I am filled with pride to have worked with a dynamic and multicultural team and led a revolution in the way we perceive and engage with outdoor media.

Through innovation in product, process and ecosystem, we have not only embraced the challenges of the modern marketing era but have also emerged as pioneers in shaping the industry’s future.

Innovating solutions: Unveiling new possibilities

We realised that revolutionising our industry, first and foremost, comes with reimagining our products to suit the modern world and anticipating external factors disrupting the urban landscape in the UAE.

Our commitment to innovation and inspiration provided by the UAE leadership to position the country at the forefront of the digital revolution has driven the business beyond the traditional static billboards, turning them into dynamic, interactive media that resonate with the digital-savvy audiences of today and match the grandeur of the cities we live in. Harnessing cutting-edge technologies, we have collaborated with brands and agencies to create immersive brand experiences that bridge the gap between physical and digital platforms.

This achievement has not only brought creativity to the forefront but also harnessed the power of data. We work actively with our clients and data partners to create a credible data ecosystem, enabling us to adapt and optimise campaigns swiftly, ensuring our clients achieve maximum impact. By combining creativity with data-driven insights, we have elevated our media to deliver memorable experiences for audiences.

Innovating processes: efficiency and agility

Innovation should not be limited to the media solutions we offer—it should fill every facet of the business operations. To achieve this, streamlining processes and embracing automation to enhance efficiency and agility is of utmost importance. From campaign planning to execution, advanced algorithms can help us identify prime locations, analyse demographics, and forecast foot traffic patterns, ensuring that every advertisement is strategically placed for optimal reach.

Innovating ecosystems: cultivating partnerships

A true revolution requires a collective effort, and innovation in outdoor media is no exception. We have taken the initiative to build a robust ecosystem of partnerships that go beyond traditional boundaries. By collaborating with technology providers, creative agencies, and local communities, we have created an environment where innovation thrives.

Together, we have co-created solutions that challenge the status quo, bringing fresh perspectives to age-old challenges. Moreover, we have championed sustainability as an integral part of our system. By incorporating eco-friendly materials and responsible waste management practices, we have not only reduced our environmental footprint but have also positioned ourselves as pioneers in promoting conscious and accountable marketing campaigns.

Our partners and brands are looking for more transparency than ever, and it is essential that we deliver that information accurately and effectively. As the CEO of the UAE’s leading OOH advertising company, I take immense pride in our transformational journey, which has set new benchmarks for the industry.

I envisage an OOH industry that seamlessly integrates with digital platforms, offering advertisers the best of both worlds. With the use of technology, OOH advertisements will become more interactive, personalised, and measurable, enhancing their impact and value. Our commitment to embracing change and pushing boundaries is not just a reflection of our company’s ethos— it’s a testament to our dedication to shaping the future of marketing.

With innovation as our compass, we will continue to lead, inspire, and evolve, driving the industry towards new horizons of success.

“If you couldn’t fail, what would you be doing right now.”


An Interview with the World Out-of-Home Organization

Earlier this year, we had the honour of interviewing Tom Goddard, President of the World Out of Home Organisation in our annual magazine SpotLite 1.0, about their goals and ambitions. Here’s what he had to say:

What are the World Out of Home Organization’s goals for the near future?

To continue to connect, celebrate and elevate the world of Out-of-Home (OOH). However, we will be looking to help drive sector growth across the industry by encouraging collaboration both globally and locally.

We will be putting a spotlight on the issue of sustainability across the OOH eco-system through our newly formed task force to be led by WOO Board Member and BlowUp Media CEO Katrin Robertson. Our aim will be to increase our global presence in areas where we have not traditionally been strong, including MENA, but also Southeast Asia, Greater Africa and Latin America.

How was the MENA Forum held in Dubai? Did it achieve what you wanted it too?

We couldn’t have wished for a better MENA Forum. The quality of the speakers, including James, was tremendous with really invaluable advice and tips for competing better and harder in an always challenging regional and global media market. We really couldn’t have hoped for more. And, possibly even more important, it was an incredible chance for an industry across a huge and diverse region to come together, share their experiences and make common cause so we can move on strongly together. From a WOO perspective we received an amazing welcome, one which made us proud to play our part in a wonderful media industry.

What would you like to see in the OOH industry in the coming years?

Greater collaboration in the industry through active support of trade associations including greater sharing of best practice from across the world. Overall Sector growth with OOH taking a greater percentage of overall media spend would be the ultimate sign of success. This will be supported by us working more closely together as an industry on key areas including measurement and sustainability.


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