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Where I differ from Max

Tim Lumb, Outsmart Director   |   14th March 2018

Radiocentre and Ebiquity’s new study Re-Evaluating Media was good news for traditional (or proven, non-digital, legacy, whatever we are calling it this week) media, not least Out of Home.

The study found Out of Home is the best medium for maximising reach, the best medium for building frequency, the second-best medium for low cost audience delivery and the third best for getting ads noticed.

If you want lots of people to notice your ad lots of times at great £value – OOH is where it’s at!

I was surprised to read in Re-Evaluating Media that OOH did not score so well in Increases Campaign ROI and Brand Salience. There is ample evidence that OOH delivers ROI in abundance, so why does it not show up in the Radiocentre report?

Let’s take two examples that make the point. 

First, we can quantify ROI from work like Talon’s 2015 joint econometric study with BrandScience and seven OOH media owners. For example, OOH delivers a ROI of around £4.50 for a medium weight campaign.

One of the strengths of Talon’s study was ensuring BrandScience meta-analysis of 200+ campaigns used ROUTE data for OOH measurement (see here for why this is so crucial).

Secondly and even more recently, OOH specialist agency, Rapport released their 2018 study Standing on the Shoulder of Giants; an IPA Databank analysis by Peter Field (the doyen of media effectiveness).

Rapport found OOH strongly increases brand measures like esteem (+41%), fame (+32%), plus it increases customer acquisition (+15%), profit (+26%), and market share (+30%). (There is a lot more in the study - read it here)

I started digging into the Re-Evaluating Media methodology. I strongly commend Radiocentre and Ebiquity for the transparent and accountable detail their study provides. It was time to get nerdy.

The first thing I looked at was how the relative importance of a medium’s attributes was looked at.

Radiocentre and Ebiquity conducted 116 in-depth telephone interviews. These were split between a number of groups. 68 were with marketers and media experts in companies spending £2m+ on advertising in the last year, 30 interviews were with media buying agencies, a further 13 interviews were held with full service agencies and 5 with creative agencies.

According to the interview responses, building frequency, ads being noticed and low cost audience delivery were considerably less important attributes, compared to targeting the right people in the right place at the right time, increasing the campaign ROI and increasing brand salience.

The importance of all the attributes was calculated using MaxDiff analysis, which is the statistical version of forcing responses into either/or choices, rather than expressing strength of preference. It is commonly used to determine the specifics of a product and its pricing, where one thing can be traded against another and ultimately an optimum offer determined.

But in this case, many of the attributes are interdependent. For example, increasing brand salience and increasing ROI are not either/or. One is likely to influence the other.  MaxDiff is not really designed to be a ‘real world’ representation of how campaign strategies are executed. You don’t set out to build frequency and not to have our ads being noticed, so why use a technique that suggests this might be possible?

The problem is that this type of analysis will, at first glance, leave the reader with the impression that OOH and other media don’t do so well in ‘important’ things.

Taking the parochial path, I looked at how Re-Evaluating Media calculated OOH’s (low) scores for Increasing the Campaign ROI and Increasing Brand Salience.

Campaign ROI relied on three sources:

Firstly, research commissioned by MarketReach, The Private Life of Mail (2015). MarketReach’s partner for the ROI section was BrandScience who did an econometric analysis in 2014 that included OOH and it found OOH’s ROI was about £3.20 (6th highest).

The second source used to calculate the OOH ROI was another Radiocentre study. This time from the 2013 paper, Radio the ROI Multiplier. In this econometric analysis, OOH’s ROI was about £2.00 (5th highest). They measured 461 Radio campaigns and just 41 for OOH. The study recognises this, saying: “The project was instigated by the radio industry, so radio was always going to be central to the agencies’ replies: we did not set any quotas for reporting of other media”

Route launched in 2013 so it’s not surprising Radio the ROI Multiplier contains zero Route data – but why are they and Ebiquity relying on a 2013 study about radio for a 2018 OOH ROI?

The last source is Ebiquity’s own database (2014–17), which calculates OOH ROI at £0.57 (7th place). I don’t know how many OOH campaigns they had or how many had Route data in them (versus flat spend or client business KPI data).

Brand Salience relied on five sources, including  DCM’s 2016 Building Box Office Brands Vol II (a cinema advertising study using Millward Brown’s surveys) and two further 2016 studies from Magnetic: Why Being Different Still Makes a Difference and Metrics that Matter (both about magazine advertising). At least there is one study from OOH here: Clear Channel The Power of OOH on Consideration (2016), plus an IPA piece: Media in Focus (2016 Binet & Field).

By way of contrast, OOH’s top score in maximising reach is sourced from an independent and fresh IPA Touchpoints rolling dataset (itself using JIC-approved ROUTE data for OOH).

Pulling this together, I am not suggesting Radiocentre and Ebiquity’s Re-Evaluating Media is a bad study. The findings are encouraging for traditional media. Nor am I suggesting that OOH must be number one in every metric imaginable. Horses for courses.

But I am inclined to think that the low score in brand and ROI metrics may be predicated on less-than-ideal source material. It’s fair to say that using better sources may tell a different story and more accurately represent OOH’s contribution in these areas.

"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"