Changing faces

Outdoor advertising is transforming. Radix’s Trevor Dsouza examines the factors driving that transformation and dictating its pace

Trevor Dsouza, Media manager, Radix

The digital revolution has brought with it numerous more contact points advertisers can use for building their brands and businesses. With reduced marketing spend and increased growth in digital advertising, companies are trying to find the optimal way to spend their advertising dollars. Hence the question arises: Is OOH vulnerable in this new age? Even: Is it the end of outdoor? Stay assured, outdoor is very much relevant today. Considering we live in a mobile economy, where people are out and about, OOH becomes even more important. Not to forget that it is the only medium that has the stopping power and potential to create high impact, unmatched by other channels. When done right, it delivers a glam quotient for launching new products or brand awareness.

So, to put it in perspective, keep in mind that it takes consumers eight touchpoints with your brand before they are ready to purchase. This makes a holistic marketing strategy that incorporates various touchpoints and channels more likely to result in conversion for your brand or product. Depending on your objectives (and budget), OOH may not be on every plan, but it has its place, use and advantages.

With outdoor advertising being anything that reaches consumers outside their homes – from billboards, street furniture and transit advertising to exterior signage and point-of-sale displays – it remains a common way for businesses to advertise to the public. But, as with everything else, today consumers are as distracted as ever. Their attention spans are short. This makes the rule of thumb even more important: keep it short, sweet and to-the-point. Also, OOH faces the challenges of cost-effectiveness and measurability, both solid advantages of social and digital marketing. That is why we see its growth.

It comes as no surprise, then, that in today’s digital world we see technology’s wings spread to driving innovation with Digital OOH. Already, in markets like the US, UK and Germany, digital out-of-home addresses the challenges of traditional OOH – cost effectiveness and measurability – to make a path from traditional media into the digital foray of programmatic outdoor media.

These are interesting times of convergence of traditional OOH to programmatic OOH, where DOOH acts as another screen available to the advertiser. With the technology already available it means suppliers, agencies and clients only require adapting to a new process and making the current supply-side platforms (SSPs) and demand-side side platforms (DSPs) better, along with a few favorable adopters to get the ball rolling. In contrast to slow manual installation, with DOOH the display is dynamic and can be done at a very short notice.

Comparing screen displays between digital and outdoor space, OOH ads are not placed within a content environment, and so will never compromise an advertiser’s brand. OOH is free from ad blockers and it cannot be skipped. Thus, to sum it up, programmatic buys will enable granularity, and targeted audience planning and buying will increase efficiency and effectiveness, brand safety and measurement. By layering first- and third-party data to optimise OOH campaigns, advertisers can now look at creating a more unified user experience across all media channels. By doing so, they can create memorable experiences for those that matter the most – the consumers.

Google has recently shown interest in this technology, and bringing together its programmatic know-how and huge accumulation of personal data could be a real game-changer for outdoor, particularly considering its unique access to mobile data. At present this an unfamiliar process that will make the traditional media owners uneasy. It could be due to technology, inventory or other factors.

Traditionally, OOH has been bought and sold in a very confined manner, with personally negotiated direct deals making up most transactions. Long-standing deals and concepts like these need to be translated into an open market. With the open market concept, the cost for outdoor will reduce the entry cost for outdoor considerably.

While the industry will continue to trend towards digital in the coming years, we aren’t expecting to see the end of static posters and billboards any time soon. The foremost reason for this delay is the
significant capital investment required. Moving an entire enterprise-level static network to digital would be a very costly affair even for the most well-funded networks. Digital screens are usually rolled out over time at a capital-refresh cycle rate that makes sense to the business. Moreover, some of the placements do not have proper connectivity to the basic infrastructure required for digital screens.

Furthermore, there are creative possibilities available in static that simply wouldn’t have the same effect in digital. Static locations, especially those with special creative capabilities such as die cuts and 3D posters will continue to be in demand among advertisers and agencies.