Outdoor media, a marriage made in heaven, by BPG Max’s Amit Raj

BPG Max’s general manager, Amit Raj looks at how OOH will move further into our lives as it becomes integrated with other technologies and media.

It is time marketers take this vow: “To have and to hold from this day forward, to better and for best, to make OOH part of our consumer engagement…” Rightly so. This is one media that walks with you from the moment you step out of the house, all through the day, in formats that impress and engage you. Let’s take a quick walk out of your apartment. There is a screen right in the elevator. You cruise down the community and a lampost or a mupi is wishing you a great day. Speeding along at 120km/hr, you have impressive signage giving you a glance. Go to a toilet, mall or supermarket, and they are everywhere by your side.

While mobile is part of you, OOH is by your side, and that makes a lot of difference in the ability of the media.

Outdoor is ‘amobile’. While mobile is about overload of content, outdoor is about no content. It is entertaining, it is non-intrusive and changes shape to fit into your environment. The challenge for most media advertisements is to be contextual, in line with content and non-intrusive. The struggle is eternal as a brand message at some point will be taking your mind off the content flow to create dissonance. OOH is pure ad; you don’t expect anything else, and that makes the message impactful. Acceptance of a cluttered ad space like Times Square is a testimony to that.

OOH can help conversion online. One crucial area where OOH is driving change in the path-to-purchase journey is ‘commuter commerce’ – people post- Covid have started to use commerce on the move more than ever. In the UK, commuters spend £22.8bn per year while travelling to and from work. OOH can be a big trigger for all these actions. For example, when you see an advert for toothpaste on the side of the bus, it will act as an effective reminder to refill.

To back this up, a Nielsen study from the US looked at the ability of OOH to drive online actions such as search or a social media post, and it was clearly OOH that stood out. It outperformed online advertising.

A recent Kinetic report found that 14 per cent of annual online spending in the UK is done using a smartphone during a commute, and that, of those surveyed, 70 per cent of commuters had made an online purchase thanks to viewing OOH on their way.

Neuroscience backs OOH as the most influential media. Research suggests consumers are more positively influenced by advertising when they are in motion. The effect occurs because the heightened state of arousal from physical activity reflects on brand acceptance. Research published in the Journal of Advertising Research in 2019 showed an active group in motion where consumers are in transit (streets, metros, airports and malls) or when exercising (gyms and parks) were significantly more aroused than the group inactive when served with the same ad.

Technology-driven programatic ad placement in DOOH is already being explored in the Middle East. There is also a surge in digital radio and music consumption. The next explosion in OOH media will be in this space where radio ads will be served in synergy with OOH ads based on location and targeting. It will be complementary messaging a consumer will find it difficult to refuse.

For example, the German energy firm E.ON carried out a national 48-sheet OOH campaign and used location data to geo-target audio ads to reach more people throughout the day. When a listener entered a geofenced zone, the technology served an audio ad corresponding to the poster site. As a result, E.ON saw four times more smart-meter sign-ups than average site traffic and a 26 per cent increase in consideration.

While DOOH can be activated when a customer enters the location bubble, we will soon be witnessing digital screens within wifi-enabled taxis on a large scale. This means advertisers have a captive audience during the commute time, with the knowledge of their profile and destination. A real-time customised offer or value-add, which is time-bound while they are in a taxi, can take customer influencing to another level.

Connected OOH is going to make this medium completely irresistible, if it is not already. Not only is it a marriage truly made in heaven, but it was a companion by your side at every point of your time out of home. Now it can customise the message based on your needs at any point, to be a truly rewarding experience for all stakeholders. It will minimise wastage and provide apt messaging, totally measured. Michio Kaku once predicted screens will be everywhere, as a chip will cost a penny. OOH has taken the first step in that direction.