The new OOH front: Dynamic, interactive and immediate

Beacons rolling out across Canada are the latest sign that out-of-home advertising is upping targetability and real-time relevance.
Drixoral took advantage of digital billboard capabilities to display real-time, traffic-related messages linking road congestion with nasal congestion. An in-depth analysis of traffic patterns of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal allowed Astral to pinpoint the most relevant locations for the messages.

Drixoral took advantage of digital billboard capabilities to display real-time, traffic-related messages linking road congestion with nasal congestion. An in-depth analysis of traffic patterns of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal allowed Astral to pinpoint the most relevant locations for the messages.

Out-of-home advertising today is definitely not what it used to be. Any past objections that advertisers might have had about long production lead times or OOH’s ability to engage consumers can now be put to rest. Digital technology and industry innovation have transformed OOH into a responsive and interactive medium – without the ad-skipping perils of PVR.

Jordana Fatsis, VP of sales for Astral Out-of-Home, a division of Bell Media, says the industry has experienced a great deal of growth over the past 10 years, much of the recent change triggered by digital technology. “Out-of-home advertising is becoming more present and in the moment and I think that’s where OOH is going as far as the next new things. It’s becoming increasingly less static and much more engagement-focused – in real time.”

From large format digital boards and RSS feeds to interactive transit shelters and beacon networks, the new OOH connects with consumers during the approximately 70% of the day they’re away from home. And unlike some traditional media options, the out-of-home market in Canada has been holding steady and experiencing slight annual increases for the past several years. According to Nielsen, from 2012 to 2013 OOH ad revenue grew from $572 million to $604 million. That figure represents about 7% of the country’s total ad spend, and the OOH industry is projected to grow by 5% annually in 2014 and 2015.

“All the things that create context are now possible with out-of-home. You can target your customers where they are – where they work and play – and be time sensitive.”

Fatsis says the new drive to mobile web will continue to enhance the immediacy and immersive aspect of the medium, along with special executions with the ‘wow’ factor that allows marketers to really capitalize on the impact and inescapable reach of out-of-home. “The biggest advantage of digital technology is its flexibility. It allows us that instantaneous interaction with consumers and the ability to make ads come alive through personal mobile devices.”

Fatsis points out that technology has not only broadened the medium’s creative possibilities, it has lowered the effective cost of advertising and the time to market. Digital boards get advertisers to market just seconds after the receipt of a creative file – no long production lead times and costs. The turnaround time is a big advantage for marketers and another reason the industry expects advertisers will take another look at out-of-home.

Claude Foisy, vice-president of Quebecor Media Out of Home, says that the real-time ad programming capabilities of OOH provide media planners with improved targetability by time of day, by location and even by changes in the weather.

“All the things that create context are now possible with out-of-home. You can target your customers where they are – where they work and play – and be time sensitive. Tactical campaigns can be more successful by really investing time in the planning. Previously, to reach the mass market, to be dominant you could wrap a transit shelter with great creative, but now with digital, campaigns will be smarter and more effective. They can take advantage of the dwell time that people spend in city centres or malls, or in proximity to shopping, to create experiences that will connect with consumers and that can really differentiate the brand.”

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Making the most of that wait time is what is behind Quebecor Media Out of Home’s use of digital technology and RSS feeds to turn transit shelters into true urban hubs that provide up-to-date news, weather and bus schedules in addition to enabling consumers to interact with the brands by scanning codes on the ad posters. The company’s transit shelters are also equipped with touch screen or gesture recognition technology to provide advertisers even greater creative opportunities for engaging consumers.

Online and mobile advertising have been able to provide marketers with a couple of valuable commodities – relevancy and context. They do that with information and brand offers individuals want, they opt-in to receive and are delivered through sites and apps they visit and use. Out-of-home advertising is now able to do the same thing via NFC (Near Field Communications) beacon networks.

Beacon-enabled out-of-home structures send notification of offers to mobile devices that consumers will then be able to accept or decline. The offers could be extensions of the advertising on the OOH structure or from retailers in the same area. Whether it’s a coupon to save on their next purchase of a favourite brand or a free coffee at a nearby coffee shop, the value is evident to both consumer and marketer.

JUICE Mobile is currently building Canada’s largest proximity network that is expected to launch in Q4 of this year. The company has also developed the proprietary software that enables mobile devices to communicate with OOH beacons.

Neil Sweeney, president and CEO of JUICE Mobile, says that with this technology, out-of-home media will now play a much bigger role in the media mix on path to purchase. “With proximity marketing networks, it is the first time the OOH industry can embrace interactive and proximity-based technologies. Does that have the power to actually grow the overall size of the out-of-home market? I think so, but it also brings OOH into the modern age, which is about real-time, proximity and mobile. Technically marketers are now also able to put a traditional mobile campaign and OOH campaign together and get closer to seeing how one actually influences the other, to see the effectiveness of combining the two media.”

Sweeney adds that beacons also have the potential to revolutionize the way out-of-home media is measured, planned and sold – to potentially value it based on an exact audience. “OOH measurement is based on opportunity to potentially see a sign. Beacons have the potential to change that. When you walk by the structure, the beacon is trying to ascertain whether you have an app. It is actively listening into the market and is able to say exactly how many people walked past a transit shelter or column or a specific poster.”

Out-of-home advertising is ever-present and digital technology has given the medium the power to raise the stakes when it comes to grabbing consumer attention and engaging them in location and context. And now it’s ready to bid for a bigger share of advertiser dollars.

 

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