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Smart Linear: Maximising the Potential of Digital

Ric Albert, Digital Director, Grand Visual   |   01st June 2017

Ten years working as a creative in the digital OOH industry has allowed me to champion creative excellence and more intelligent ways of using such a potentially rich channel. There have been creative breakthroughs during my ten years from developing appropriate use of full motion animation, multi-panel installations forcing us to think beyond the single screen, subtle motion regulations challenging us to create a new tier of animation. And there are still more techniques to promote.

One of those techniques allows for targeted and relevant advertising copy without necessarily building a real time, responsive dynamic campaign. Whilst brands want richer, more contextual creative, dynamic campaigns are often prohibitive due to long lead times and higher costs. However, with some small tweaks and a little effort, linear ads can also be smart and contextual - they can be ‘smart’ linear as it were.

Before I go into details, I want to point out that smart linear is still a linear campaign. No flash files, media owner testing or live feeds needed. It’s just a smarter type of linear.

We have defined 3 key elements to smart linear campaigns:

Pre-determined data: useful and relevant data sets used to form the creative/copy Multiple pieces of creative: multiple file variations are created based on the pre-determined data Intelligent scheduling: media owners schedule the relevant creative, based on the data over the course of the campaign

Pre-determined data can include time of day (morning/lunch/evening), days of the week, specific events and location. Integrating data will multiply the files you need to deliver, but with clear scheduling instructions and media owner assistance, you can create a contextual campaign without the need for live updates.

For the Warner Bros. campaign The Legend Of Tarzan, the team at Grand Visual created specific morning, daytime and nighttime versions, each with their own trailer cut and creative that related to the time of day. This simple dayparting elevated the campaign creative above the other film releases at the time.

Sometimes smart linear demands scale to make the most of the opportunity: by combining time of day and location, last year’s TSB Local ended up with 120 variations (40 cities each with a morning, daytime and evening creative). With some intelligent production techniques, this can be a more cost and time-effective solution than dynamic content.

For projects or clients with smaller budgets, smart linear campaigns deliver impactful creative. Last Christmas, Age UK wanted to raise awareness about loneliness amongst older people in communities across the UK. We did this by creating multiple files which featured figures of those at risk of loneliness in the local area. Through the use of smart linear, Age UK was able to reach a national audience with locally relevant messaging - making their media and creative budgets work harder..

These examples demonstrate how smart linear can be an effective weapon within the DOOH armoury. Costs are less prohibitive (no developers, QA or media owner testing) and it means richer, more targeted adverts across the board. I believe that to ensure a rich and engaging experiences we should focus on making campaigns smarter as standard, taking full advantage of our digital opportunity.

"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"