The possibilities might be many, but if out-of-home is serious about digital, it needs to invest in a more geographically consistent infrastructure, says Kinetic UK’s CEO, Stuart Taylor.
With four-wheel drive ads appearing as the ground freezes, BBQs being advertised when the sun shines and allergy medication promotions hitting as the pollen count rises, digital out of home (DOOH) is transforming traditionally static outdoor advertising.
Clients, brands and planners primarily use out-of-home advertising in two-week slots to promote a single message. This is how the industry has been structured, and for many good reasons.
But now, with digital screens and increasingly sophisticated content management systems coming to market, the opportunities are becoming endless.
Digital technology is enabling clients to evolve from advertising one static message to being able to truly tailor promotions so that they have maximum relevancy and impact. Why advertise garden furniture when it’s raining when you can instead hold the ad back until the sun comes out?
Anthony Mullen, a senior analyst at Forrester, recently said that the weather “directly affects our purchasing and buying behaviours” and that it’s time for UK brands to “knuckle down” and exploit environmental changes. This is something our clients have been doing for years.
In 2011, Argos advertised BBQs and water pistols across key digital sites when it was sunny and board games in inclement weather. More recently, Dyson promoted a fan heater with ads only appearing when the temperature dropped below 5C and Audi advertised four-wheel drive cars when the mercury dipped to freezing.
Currently, 45% of all DOOH is in London and more than 90% of digital roadside panels are in the capital – this is not satisfactory for clients who want to see truly national footprints.
This kind of bespoke campaign will not work for everyone but it is becoming more popular with clients who value this kind of contextual flexibility and relevance.
Johnson & Johnson used the flexibility of DOOH to full effect last summer as it advertised allergy medication Benadryl to its target audience – but only at crucial response times.
Using data from the Met Office pollen feed, the advertising appeared when the pollen count hit a critical level in the vicinity of the sites. The media spots also encouraged consumers to download the Benadryl mobile app, delivering a more integrated campaign.
Clients are clearly exploring the capabilities of DOOH, but there are still limitations. Certainly there needs to be more investment made by media owners in new tech and updating existing screens.
Great strides are being made with the likes of Clear Channel investing in NFC-enabled mobile touch points nationwide in more than 20,000 bus shelters and JCDecaux transforming 400 full-motion, fully optimisable digital six sheets in the largest Tesco stores across the country. This is a good start but clearly more investment is needed.
Clients and creatives are really excited about the opportunities that continue to open up and Kinetic is helping them to establish the best solutions for their campaigns. JCDecaux’s recently launched 40-metre long Waterloo Motion site is a good example. The screen spans six platforms at Waterloo station using all of the client’s full-motion TV assets and is capable of incorporating a live stream of data.
Audi’s current treatment involves drawing in stats that include the number of people in the station and train departures. This can be tied in with mobile, social media and experiential activity, creating a fully rounded campaign. For clever, relevant treatments it really is pushing the boundaries.
This raises another important point. Despite the digital advancements, the key driving force of OOH is established poster advertising, connecting brands with their customers in a trusted, open and contextually relevant environment. But with digital growing by 15% last year, will it continue to cannibalise other outdoor formats or grow market share for the sector?
We need to be clear with clients that DOOH complements rather than substitutes more established formats. Of course there will be some cannibalisation as paper/vinyl sites get upgraded to digital screens, but they are very different propositions and are not simply a replacement.
There is a huge opportunity to go after existing digital media budgets, which should help OOH hit the predicted £1 billion revenue mark in 2014, but we should also be extremely proud and confident of the impact that established formats deliver for advertisers.
For DOOH to make an even bigger impact, it’s critical that there is a more geographically consistent spread of digital infrastructure.
Currently, 45% of all DOOH is in London and more than 90% of digital roadside panels are in the capital and this is not satisfactory for clients who want to see truly national footprints. Client demand is driving growth in key cities such as Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham but more needs to be done to address the balance.
There are challenges which will always be there – for instance, full-motion on the roadside is not allowed for fear of distracting drivers and there will always be a planning process to get through before new sites are approved but as town councils’ budgets get squeezed, so they’re looking to media owners to see how they can best monetise their assets.
Yes, we can create campaigns based on the weather, sport results and travel news but the capabilities are actually so much wider and developing quickly – and increasingly data driven insight around mind-sets and mood states for people out of home will drive the future possibilities.