The out of home (“OOH”) media industry continues to offer smarter digital advertising options that are now further amplified by location-based tech. Through advancements in hardware, software and buying technologies, the OOH sector is in the midst of its most transformative period on record.
The digitization of OOH is accelerating. Media owners have been replacing static boards with digital screens for years now, but today we are witnessing new generations of state-of-the-art displays deployed on a massive scale. Higher pixel densities and LED technology together will allow for thinner, larger and brighter screens than ever before.
Regulatory opposition has slowed down the pace of digital screen proliferation in some markets. However, OOH media companies keep digitizing where it’s allowed by law, as they see how brands are benefiting from increased user engagement, recall and sales lift from digital screen advertisements.
New Hardware & Software Implementations for OOH
Another significant DOOH trend is represented by the hardware and software add-ons to screens. Displays can now be outfitted with different features, including cameras, proximity networking tech, Wi-Fi, and audience measurement software. These technologies enable OOH operators to collect information on the demographics of the audiences viewing their ads, a perk standard in certain other digital advertising channels, but only recently made available in OOH.
Future ad tech will carefully hone in on where you have been, where you are and what you may do next, in order to develop consumer patterns in the form of a predictive algorithm. There are multiple examples of how OOH companies use real-time metrics to adapt screen content based on gender, age and multiple other parameters.
The above technologies have proven to increase the effectiveness of campaigns. A recent Toronto Mazda ad on a billboard loaded with crowd detection and facial recognition software maintained a tally of how many shoppers stopped to look at the advertisement. It was a clear success – within two days, the advertisement had turned 15,000 heads and received significant media attention.
Other new tools in OOH owners’ arsenal include smart chips for radio-frequency identification (RFID). RFID tech uses electromagnetic fields to identify and track tags attached to objects.
RFID tags are most familiar to consumers through credit cards, including Visa PayWave and MasterCard PayPass, which allow consumers to “tap and go” at pay stations. However, the technology is quite flexible – RFID chips are rather small, and hence can be integrated into a number of surprising industries. Advertisers are increasingly using RFID in OOH media.
Recent RFID Campaign Example
Ogilvy recently executed a campaign for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in East London’s Westfield Stratford mall.
RFID chips were placed in leaflets handed out to shoppers across the mall; concurrently, several displays advertising Battersea Dogs and Cats Home were outfitted with RFID technology as well. When shoppers passed one of the displays, the RFID chip embedded in their leaflets triggered the display to play a video of Barley, a dog up for adoption at Battersea. Because the displays were located all throughout the mall, shoppers saw Barley wherever they went.
As a result of the campaign, Barley found a home. As with the aforementioned Mazda ad, the Battersea campaign also generated a lot of media attention. Such advertisements highlight OOH media as a versatile medium that can have remarkable pull over consumers. It is the only media channel that can deliver such emotional, engaging and experiential effect.
Given the U.S.’s high smartphone penetration, mobile platforms represent a highly-coveted channel and so far a mostly unexplored opportunity for OOH media. A recent study by UK firm Outsmart showed that OOH ads performed better than other media in compelling people to use their smartphones to find out more about the brands advertised.
Equipped with this knowledge, OOH companies were able to convince brands to run campaigns that included both mobile and out-of-home. Concurrent with these developments, mobile marketers have begun using location-based data to reach audiences on the go and better measure return on ad spending.
To that end, PJSC believes that the use of geo-temporal data is the newest revolution in OOH media. And for good reason – brands have demonstrated that cross-platform campaigns that included OOH media and used geo-temporal data increased engagement by up to 60%.
Buying Side of OOH
We are seeing a continued shift to programmatic buying in OOH advertising which, if successful, will revolutionize the way this medium is bought. Traditionally, ad buying has been a negotiated affair, with ad agencies serving as the middlemen between brands and operators. A new system, programmatic buying, allows brands to directly purchase and sell ad slots in real-time, simplifying the process and encouraging more advertisers to use it.
Algorithms and data analytics offered by ad operators will provide brands with more programmatic buying opportunities. Marketers will be able to purchase ad slots based on views, audience, demographics, weather patterns or other triggers.
Operators are also developing programmatic platforms to integrate DOOH media with mobile and online, which will allow buyers to purchase synergistic multi-screen campaigns. While programmatic buying has met some resistance from some OOH industry giants and ad agencies who need to adapt to this new method, major DOOH vendors are getting closer and closer to achieving automation.
We think a middle ground can be found between brands, OOH media companies and ad agencies – programmatic buying is inevitable. This, in turn, will allow parties to apply data more productively, and make informed decisions throughout the buying and planning process.
As we move through the remainder of 2017, the future looks strong for OOH advertising. OOH keeps innovating while other traditional media stagnate. OOH has transformed itself from a historically passive medium to an interactive, experiential media channel that produces great results for advertisers.