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(I lied about being) The Outdoor Type

Keith Benzie, Client Partner, Space & Time   |   24th May 2016

Hopefully the slightly cryptic – and more-than-slightly tenuous – title of this post will lead you to seek out the song of the same name (by Australian band Smudge). Then again, perhaps you’re not really interested in self-deprecating and bittersweet paeans to the things people will do for love so, in that case, please do read on to find out more about the future of Digital Out of Home (or OOH, as I prefer not to call it).

We recently attended an event in Edinburgh hosted by Primesight entitled ‘Unlocking The Potential of Digital Out of Home’. The event was well-attended by agencies from Auld Reekie and beyond and included speakers from Primesight and Outsmart (formerly the Outdoor Media Centre) – the aim being to inform everyone in agency land as to who Outsmart actually are and what they do, and to talk about the rise (and rise) of Digital Out of Home.

Primesight used the event as a platform to talk about the growth of the DOOH footprint nationally. Some of the numbers involved make for compelling reading; in 2007, the average consumer was exposed to eight minutes of DOOH per week. By 2017 this figure will be 56 minutes per week. In 2007, 4% of OOH spend was on digital formats – by 2020 it is expected to be as high as 50% of OOH spend. Evidence suggests that outdoor media is particularly effective at increasing the ROI of other media (examples provided included broadcast and digital display) when added in to the mix, with the right mix of ‘classic’ and DOOH being 75%/25%.

So, we can use DOOH to amplify traditional media campaigns, we have the ability to buy and report on campaigns like we’re now so used to doing with digital media and we can be more creative (ie location, time and context-specific) when it comes to messaging. All this offers agencies and clients the perfect chance to reach consumers in key ‘micro-moments’ (a phrase coined by Google to describe the increasingly-fragmented consumer journey).

All the main contractors are now entering the fray with digital offerings (both 6 sheet and large format). Indigenous contractors like Forrest Media and national retail specialists such as Universal Outdoor are also adding to the opportunities available.

The digital estate is still dwarfed by more traditional ‘classic’ vinyl and paper & paste panels – which is where the real scale still is – and the footprint is still relatively small (especially up here in the frozen Northlands). But if you just want to target commuters on specific routes in their cars, or families at high footfall malls while they shop – all with messaging that can now be served in ‘real time’ – DOOH is staking a real claim for space on media schedules.

Outsmart launched in September 2015 with the express purpose of ‘informing, educating and inspiring people to do wonderful things in Out of Home’ and (importantly) driving an increased share of display revenue into the OOH medium.

They are currently in the process of collating the results of the largest consumer insight study into OOH – an intriguing piece of research which will measure the impact on connected device activity following exposure to OOH campaigns – and Outsmart also want to prove that OOH can perform well in econometric ROI models and deliver an uplift in sales, customer acquisition and market share for increasingly demanding clients and agencies. Not much to do then.

Finally, in terms of outreach, their plan is to meet and engage with more agencies and specialists to sell in what is often a largely undersold medium. Route – the £19m piece of research which was brought to market in 2013 as a game-changing audience analysis tool – hasn’t really changed the way many agencies plan and buy OOH in the way the industry hoped it would, chiefly because so many people still don’t really know what it is and what to do with it.

Outsmart’s mission to enlighten and inspire agencies (creative or otherwise) is an admirable and – I think – probably overdue one. I think most planners/ buyers worth their salt would welcome the opportunity to discuss any new, relevant and exciting research and opportunities available with clients.

I hope the title – or the latter content – of this post doesn’t suggest I have an axe to grind with OOH (my feelings for that personally-maligned acronym aside). Far from it. As Outsmart’s intensely passionate CEO said on the day, ‘posters – digital or otherwise – are still posters’. By that I think he meant that they are still a very well-known entity, a tried and trusted form of advertising that can deliver huge impact for brands and businesses of all sizes. The flexibility and creativity that the increasing digital estate will (eventually) bring, coupled with increased transparency and targeting bodes well for the future of this venerable medium and for the clients who continue to use it.

"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"