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Out of Home: 2016 and beyond

Alan Brydon, CEO Outsmart   |   20th January 2016

Outsmart, the marketing body for the OOH industry, launched three months ago with a mission to understand what can take the sector to the next level. Here, its chief executive, Alan Brydon, explains what happens now.

Since Outsmart launched on 24 September I have been around many OOH media owner, specialist, media agency and client companies - to present, to discuss with, and to listen to their views on the medium, and the industry.

There are a number of very consistent themes, and it is these that will drive what the Outsmart, its members, and our other partners within the OOH family industry focuses on into 2016 and beyond.

The first and probably most prevalent theme is one of positivity about the medium. More than any other it is the medium where technology, driving consumer behaviour, is bringing opportunities and growth in audiences, rather than challenges as with other media.

I'm not for a moment suggesting that these challenges make other media not valuable or not worthwhile. But they are challenges nevertheless: audience declines, inflation, ad avoidance, etc.

And the OOH medium can deliver in combination better than any other the four crucial things that every client and every agency wants from its marketing and media effort - Impact, Action, Relevance and Creativity. That's why every planner in town should be thinking about and recommending OOH more than ever before.

The OOH medium has bigger audiences, uninterrupted communication, without any fast-forward or adblocker technology...and it also has ever improving inventory, and ever more sophisticated planning, buying, creative and deployment opportunities.

Technology will mean that the digitisation of the medium will continue, at lower cost, more quickly, and to even better levels of quality; trading processes between media owners and specialists will become better and more efficient (indeed they are already with the introduction of SPACE); and real-time automated trading will develop apace, again allowing not only efficiencies but better and more effective deployment opportunities for advertisers.

And a really key element that makes OOH incredibly exciting for advertisers is how much and how often people are using their connected device whilst out and about. We at Outsmart are in the middle right now of a very major piece of research which will indicate just how much more people snap, search, share and shop on their devices whilst they are out and about, and how much more they do so for brands that are on posters than for those that are not. We'll have the results ready by the end of Q1 2016.

The other big theme that has come out of all my conversations has been 'effectiveness' in all its forms.

Demonstration of effectiveness is, quite rightly, a prerequisite for any medium. But the OOH medium has in the past been rather on the back foot in this area. It has allowed others to take the lead (particularly in the ROI area) at its expense, and it has been rather disjointed in the blowing of its own trumpet in all effectiveness regards. And yet, as I've already found in my first few months at Outsmart, there is a whole load of evidence that OOH works. 

OOH won't ever have a single 'magic' ROI number - such a diverse medium can't realistically have one."
Of course there is, because of course it does. And what's more, as well as case histories and bespoke research, a lot of that evidence is squarely in the ROI area. We - all of us in the OOH family - need to coordinate a fact-based and evidence-based effort to make advertisers and agencies aware of the realities. 

Namely, that when econometric modelling is understood and applied correctly, and when the 'R' in ROI is correctly defined and measured in that context, then OOH can be as potent and as effective as any medium. 

OOH won't ever have a single 'magic' ROI number - such a diverse medium can't realistically have one - and again we won't be suggesting that other media can't and don't work alongside OOH. 

But we will be trying to ensure that measurement is valid, methodology is correct, and that resultant learnings are understood, discussed and learned from. Surely only what any client would want after their significant investment in any medium? I have no doubt that in this scenario, OOH will be shown to work more often, in more ways, for more clients.

The final big learning I've got over the last few weeks is that in quite a few important areas, simply what is nowadays possible in OOH isn't fully understood. 

Certainly in the creative community, sometimes in the client community, and occasionally in media agencies, there is a real opportunity for 'enlightenment'. Not telling people how to plan, how to write great ads, or how to deploy funds, but rather, simply making sure that all of the possibilities, technologies and opportunities are known about.

2016 and beyond is an incredibly exciting time for OOH, and we'll be doing all we can to make sure that advertisers and agencies share in that excitement with us, and benefit from those four crucial components - Impact, Action, Relevance and Creativity.

First published by Mediatel: http://mediatel.co.uk/newsline/2015/12/07/out-of-home-2016-and-beyond/​

"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"