Posted by Andrew Chandler,
Feb 19, 2013
This week, we continue to dispute the notion that Outdoor is still a ‘traditional’ media by reviewing the range of new technologies introduced by the OOH contractors.
Rather than being replaced by the likes of online and mobile, out of home should sit side by side with these platforms on campaign schedules. Of course this is easy enough to say, but we naturally ask: ‘how can we achieve what online, the fastest growing medium for almost a decade, is now doing using outdoor?’ Advertisers want the flexibility, targeting capabilities and real-time elements that online boasts. Now outdoor can deliver all three.
Our first port of call when assessing OOH developments is to consider the impact of digital display. Already, we are able to break down some of the standard barriers associated with outdoor formats: long lead times; fixed in-charge periods and singular, static copy. You only need to take a trip on London’s public transport to see how digital OOH has re-written these norms - Transvision screens are breaking news as it happens, digital 6 sheets are telling me I want a beer during my Friday commute home and DEPs are following me up the escalator to tell the story of the latest film release. Digital OOH has the flexibility to put marketers’ creativity into practice at an affordable cost.
When considering the partnership between digital and OOH, we have to address the developments that have occurred within the wider digital arena. Over the past decade, social media has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. Take the emergence of Twitter - be it allowing us to harmlessly follow friends or D-list celebrities to breaking news stories and causing legal battles, it has made everyone sit up and listen. Digital OOH panels now enable us to live stream Tweets and feeds on a broadcast scale, meaning that even the consumer can get their opinions seen by the public. As well as putting consumers at the heart of the advertising and giving a whole new meaning to ‘word of mouth’, it can all happen in real-time.
Twitter is now often the first channel of a brand’s communication - integrating this with outdoor allows it to become an integral component of their broadcast message.
But live interaction is not just confined to the realms of social media. The recent BEING campaign by British Airways linked SMS messaging with Ocean’s impactful digital screen at Eat Street, Westfield. Passers-by were greeted by the 15 foot high HD screen at Westfield showing two holiday makers asking them to guess where they were in the world at that moment. By texting in questions to get hints from the pair, shoppers were encouraged to guess the location and win a holiday. Certainly not a brand new (or complex) competition metric – but in the context of real time on a huge, public digital panel, it made for a fun, live conversation with people on the other side of the world that people wanted to get involved with. Add some shots of the enviable sunshine, a few performers with steel drums next to the screen and two people waving at you in their swimsuits and it creates a pretty impactful campaign.
Bringing things back to ground level, another technology acronym attracting buzz is NFC. While much of the fuss is around the ability to make quick payments with retailers and public transport at the touch of a bank card, the same technology has also been implemented into OOH. The amount of NFC-enabled consumer devices quadrupled last year compared to 2011. As a follow-on to the QR code, NFC goes one step further in that with just a simple tap you can access rich media content, voucher codes and mobile bookings to name a few. Advertisers have already jumped on this opportunity, yet in the next year it is predicted to fully take off.
While most of the examples you have probably seen are linked to a poster panel, the technology can be used almost anywhere. And it is not just us marketeers who are getting excited about this. In a survey carried out by Posterscope and Clear Channel, 84% of those who have used the technology enjoyed the experience, while 72% had told friends. The key challenge for this technology is educating the consumer - 60% of those with NFC-enabled phones do not realise they have this technology. 2013 will be an interesting year to see if and what will reduce this number.
Ultimately, outdoor has come a long way and it will continue to adapt and evolve. It creates new boundaries and makes room for a whole raft of media firsts for brands to lay claim to. As the middlemen of the process, keeping abreast of the new technology means we can explore some truly engaging and clever opportunities as an agency. Key to remember will be that the buck doesn’t stop with the media world – and as with any campaign, if the idea doesn’t offer a value exchange for the consumer, it is a wasted opportunity.