Back to blog

An Insightful Hat-Trick

Katherine Ashmore, Communications Manager at Outsmart   |   01st February 2018

Last week was certainly one that was jam packed with all things Out of Home and media. From stand out advertisers, esteemed panels and noteworthy insights to discussions, disagreements and alleged decapitations, we had it all.

Mediatel kicked off the week with their inaugural Out of Home Summit at the RSA.

The first session featured Dominic Mills in discussion with a man who most people in the room were dying to have a word with. Simon Valcarcel is the Head of Creative and Media for O2, the advertiser who produced the most memorable and creative Out of Home campaigns of 2017.

The OOPS campaign was praised for turning a classic Out of Home format on its head, quite literally. Simon explained that great creative should be visually arresting and a poster seemingly hanging by a thread certainly does just that. He went on to say that he challenges his team to think of innovative ways of using the medium by drawing on inspiration from all aspects of their daily life: newspaper clippings, science, menus, fashion… Simon loves the medium and acknowledges its ability to drive branding and fame for his brand.

The next session was made up of brilliant minds from agencies, Out of Home media owners and Out of Home specialists. The topic for discussion was Out of Home’s ability to build brands. Whilst the panel were unanimous in their views that the medium does this as well as any other channel, Sophie Pemberton of Talon Outdoor believes the industry is on a knife edge. She elaborated by saying that as clients become increasingly persuaded by short-term response metrics, they need to remember that this is not suitable for many Out of Home campaigns. It is a broadcast medium whose brand effects build over time. It talks to people, not a single person. It is sophisticated mass marketing.

Inevitably, the question of Outsmart’s role in OOH was raised. The view of the panel was that it should be doing more, and comparisons to marketing bodies such as Thinkbox, IAB etc were made. Perfectly understandable given Outsmart was launched in 2015 as a marketing body - staffed (and budgeted!) accordingly do deliver on its promise to “Inform, educate and inspire people to do wonderful things in Out of Home.” What the panel probably did not know was that in September 2016 this changed, and with considerably less fanfare Outsmart became a Trade Association. Whilst we do some marketing via our social and website, our primary remit is to “Protect and advance the trade interests of members and the Out of Home advertising industry.” Perhaps not quite as awe-inspiring , but arguably just as important. Ironically the summit highlighted to us that one of our tasks is to market the message that we’re not all about marketing! So to see what we are doing, have a look here

Despite bumps in the road, one thing is clear, Outsmart’s success is dependent on the continued involvement, valued expertise, and unrivalled resilience of its members. We are better together and as we surge into 2018, we should all remember the wise words of Sophie from Talon (my new favourite person in Out of Home): ‘imagine how powerful our voice could be as an industry if we all said the same thing at the same time.’ With my trade association hat on, these words have never been truer.

Next up it was Rapport’s turn to bring the Out of Home industry together for what promised to be a very worthwhile session by providing another step on the effectiveness ladder. The impressive study that was unveiled was done in collaboration with the IPA and used its databank of over 2000 case studies to quantify the business and brand effects of Out of Home. As emphasised at the Mediatel Summit, Out of Home is brilliant at delivering long-term metrics like brand building. Rapport’s study highlighted how it can also achieve short-term sales activation. Not only does the medium boost market share by one third, but it delivers a significant uplift of 47% in short-term sales by power users (those who invest at least 15% of their budgets in OOH vs. non-users). The stats that gave colour to the session's apt title ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ were those that highlighted the effect of OOH power-users on other media giants, boosting search by 54% and social media by 20%.

Out of Home delivers fame. It builds brands. It generates sales. It boosts business and brand effects. And when campaigns use the killer combination of branding and sales activation, they double long-term results. Anyone need a piggy back?

Last but not least, and to round off a stellar week, the Advertising Association held their annual LEAD conference. As to be expected, the over-arching theme of the day was Brexit, its impact on businesses and what initiatives they will adopt to succeed when the time comes.

It was clear that all of the impressive speakers shared a common sentiment. Whether they were politicians, economists, broadcasters, CEO’s, advertising gurus or even bankers, they appreciated the value of advertising. They spoke eloquently and enthusiastically about the industry that brings colour to businesses, context to culture and smiles to faces. Make no mistake, there are a number of issues highlighted which the industry needs to tackle as areas like fake news, transparency, trust and consumer confidence become increasingly apparent.

I took away a melange of brilliant soundbites: ‘advertising is for life, not just Christmas’. ‘Media can be a beacon of positivity in a transformational world’. ‘We all have a voice which must be heard’. ‘It is like two bald men fighting over a comb.’ ‘Now, more than ever, consumers care what a brand stands for.’ But nothing struck me more than the wise words from the very eloquent and entertaining Nick Manning, founder of MGOMD. He said that ‘trade associations cannot do it alone’. A healthy industry needs real partnership between associations and members, something that Outsmart continually drives and encourages.

Whilst every industry, not just that of advertising, continues to deal with a huge amount of uncertainty that comes with Brexit, one thing remained crystal clear, when times get tough, people pull together. Whether that be economists and politicians, advertisers, and agencies or even Out of Home folk, when faced with adversity and uncertainty, we come together, focus on what unites us and work as best we can not just to survive, but to grow.

If this week has highlighted anything it is that advertising, and Out of Home, has things to work on. It is not perfect but what is certain is that it has limitless potential, for businesses, economies, and people.



"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"