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The Future of Out of Home Advertising

Nadja Lossgot & Nicholas Hulley, Creative Directors at AMV BBDO   |   11th April 2016

Nadja Lossgott and Nicholas Hulley are Creative Directors at AMV BBDO in London. In 2010 they were part of the team that won a Black Pencil for the Trillion Dollar campaign, and followed up in 2015 with seven Pencils for Guinness’ Sapeurs. Nadja will be a judge on the D&AD Professional Awards 2016 Outdoor Advertising Jury.

In the article below, they explore the past, present and future of Out Of Home Advertising. Whether it’s digital billboards, branded experiences or traditional posters, OOH Advertising is here to stay. What’s more, they argue, it will outlast other forms of media which are currently under threat.

‘Out of Home’ often feels like both advertising’s past and its future.

You can’t accuse outdoor of being reluctant to change. A quick look at the OOH award categories gives you a clue. There’s ambient, ambient digital screens, interactive outdoor experiences, live events, non-formatted digital outdoor, special builds. The list goes on.

Buskers have been used to release albums. Billboards have been turned into benches. Pepsi turned Uber Taxis into Back to the Future Deloreans. And the incredibly poignant New York Gun Store campaign was a pop-up store.

A recent piece I loved was BA’s brilliant ‘Magic of Flying’ billboard. The idea is like a roll-call of adland’s favourite buzzwords: real-time data, interactivity, some digital, and lots of collaboration. And it all comes together in a beautifully evocative ode to our childlike wonder for flight. It’s the kind of idea you just know is routinely invoked by CDs in every creative department, “give me some of that.”

They’re the kind of ideas creatives love to make.

But the gift of new technology can also be a curse; we all know about adblockers. Here again, outdoor looks like the future.

Another one of my favourite pieces from last year (I’m not really going out on a limb here) was the ‘Nazis Against Nazis’ rally. A simple stunt, this piece of outdoor transcended its medium, slipped past the adblockers and found it’s way into the news and popular culture. Just like Security Moms did. Just like Gaytms. And just like the Marathon Walker for Water for Africa. It’s just a woman entered into a race carrying a bucket of water and a message that this is how far women walk for water. So Simple.

It’s all quite meta. Is it the event that counts? Or is it the after image that counts, as the idea travels around the internet landing up on blogs, Facebook feeds and news sites?

And then there’s advertising’s past. The intrusive, inflexibile and mute billboards. They feel like throwbacks to the old way of doing things. A flat image with an unyielding rule that the consumer can take in no more than eight words (unless they’re Economist readers). How boring. How old school. Until you remember 2015's ‘Shot on iPhone 6’ campaign. Simple, traditional and utterly un-missable pieces of art in the urban landscape.

It proves our past can be our friend too.

There is a piece of research that has always stayed with me. In focus groups people will remember seeing a brand’s new television ad, even though no such ad has been on air. It turns out that what people are recalling is the billboards they pass each and every day. People don’t forget billboards. Although they sometimes mislable them.

They might not be shiny, they might not be new, but billboards are real workhorses. We shouldn’t dismiss them. The other good thing about billboards is you can’t adblock the view.

I’m really looking forward to seeing all the new work that will come through this year. I hope there’s room for both the future and the past.

"As an industry, I believe, we have forgotten the power of repetition. Effective communication isn't small. It isn't cheap. It isn't once."
"Advertising isn’t supposed to be private. It’s supposed to be overheard, shared, stumbled across and discovered."
"And then there’s advertising’s past. The intrusive, inflexibile and mute billboards. They feel like throwbacks to the old way of doing things. A flat image with an unyielding rule that the consumer can take in no more than eight words (unless they’re Economist readers). How boring. How old school. Until you remember 2015's ‘Shot on iPhone 6’ campaign. Simple, traditional and utterly un-missable pieces of art in the urban landscape."
"Out of Home is the oldest medium of all There’s still huge power in the public message – the power of the public comment. It’s a big thing – it’s why people get married in front of an audience of 150; it gives a public sense of commitment."
"We've chosen to use digital to make everything more efficient...but we've forgotten how to explore and discover. It's a loss of serendipity and we've lost a lot of the humanity. We're becoming very reliant upon digital and the internet to make us incredibly efficient and we're losing out."
"The beauty of OOH is that it can double as a TV screen, a social feed, a camera, a vending machine, a download site, or a purchase point."
"OOH is constantly evolving, and its ability to integrate so brilliantly with new technology is one of its main strengths."
"Media changes, driven by digitisation, have left consumers facing a tyranny of choice—yet OOH is a channel that can still deliver huge audiences, and can increasingly do so in creative and engaging ways."
"The Out of Home sector has been tremendously resilient throughout the recessionary years, showing consistent growth driven by its fundamental benefits. In an ever-fragmenting media landscape, you can still reach pretty much the entire population, all at the same time."
"Out of Home is booming right now: OOH is the most ubiquitous media – you can’t turn the page, change the channel or switch it off, and Out of Home continues to integrate itself brilliantly with other new and innovative technologies."
"Posters decorate the world "
"Speed of change is all around us and no more so than in the rate at which advertising investment in traditional posters is being transitioned to include a far more flexible Out of Home canvas; the digital poster."
"I love OOH because the diversity of opportunities makes it a realistic option for almost any client. Add to this the ever growing possibilities for new innovation and it’s a media channel that is truly exciting to both agencies and clients alike."
"As DOOH becomes more “digital,” it becomes more agile, richer, and better able to play its part in a big idea. As a plugged in medium, DOOH can be the active element in a multi-layered campaign. It can create buzz, break news, invite interaction, and help to drive content and discussions online. Great DOOH campaigns are ones that sit comfortably within the wider brand strategy and capture the imagination."
"By its very nature, Out of Home’s remoteness from the consumer living room, from the office, and from the home computer, has made it a natural bedfellow of mobile marketing."
"OOH inhabits a wonderful space in which we benefit from a rich heritage of memorable, iconic campaigns and a truly exciting future unfolding before us. A broadcast medium that just keeps getting better."
"DOOH is a really interesting storytelling medium, beyond advertising. It allows you to touch and feel and interact in a way no other medium does. That's the real beauty of it, and usually overlooked"
"Show me any brief, for any client and any campaign and I guarantee that OOH will be able to have a justifiable role to play as part of the media solution. That role maybe big or small; local or national, classic, digital or both, large format, small format or anything in between... but it will be justifiable and worthwhile. There isn’t any other medium that can replicate that claim, or indeed come anywhere near doing so."
"London’s very large public transport network carries a great deal of OOH advertising. As a result, London alone has 170,000 advertising sites, more than 40 per cent of the national total. This makes London the most valuable city for OOH advertising in Europe and among the most important in the world."
"Digital OOH networks are multi-sensory and with the development of touch technology things are moving fast. Stimulating the senses more creatively generates social shares, great PR and awards."
"Central London will undergo a transformation and cities like Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds will get even brighter and more connected"
"It makes sense for the most welcomed and least intrusive media to deliver presence for brands interacting through the media"
"OOH remains the flexible canvas for which a guaranteed audience is never too far away"
"OOH may be the oldest medium, yet it has shown remarkable resilience in reinventing itself"
"Smarter brands are contextualising their ad messaging, reaching a target audience when it matters most and can change behaviour"
"Poster sites really are the last true broadcast medium capable of near universal reach"
"Immediacy, targeting and excitement are what DOOH can offer that other media can't - its just very very cool.The opportunities are endless"
"The combination of classic and DOOH should be an intoxicating mix for any marketing director"
"Out of Home is an accountable, measurable and effective media for advertisers"
"Reaching people in the right place, at the right time is still Out of Home’s biggest strength"
"Posters are the purest and most effective form of communication"
"I would advise marketers using OOH not to see a poster as a Wikipedia entry, think of it as a piece of art"
"OOH engages hard to reach audiences on the move with inspiring and innovative communications"
"Using data to plan OOH enhances campaign performance by up to 200%"
"London is the most valuable city for OOH advertising... and among the most important in the world "
"Super premium digital Out of Home is one of the quickest ways to get into the conversation and make your brand famous"
"For a brand to live, it needs to appeal not only to the people who buy it, but also to the people who know about it "
"Media isn’t about the number of impressions you make. Media is about the power of the impression you make."
"In advertising, we have the power to change minds, change beliefs and change the world"
"DOOH offers deeper engagement than other media, more of a story and feedback"