It’s no exaggeration to say that today we live in a visually busy, noisy world where a multitude of media channels are hungry for our attention. Wherever you go these days you are constantly bombarded with advertising messages; buy that, look at this, X is better than Y, this new product and that new service. But just how far can the traditional 6 sheet or billboard go to cut through the chatter and engage with its target audience?
OOH or (Out of Home advertising) has taken on board the digital age in recent years and evolved from being a print medium with clever imagery and snappy headlines to a dynamic digital platform. Whilst in the past outdoor advertising was obviously eye catching and a good way of getting your message to consumers, there was no way to guarantee that your message was actually getting to the audience most important to you.
Outdoor advertising these days has become far more sophisticated, utilising technology, so that that same static outdoor advertising space can now be controlled in real time, dynamically changing content and even evolving in real time to suit a specific audience. Whilst that is great for the viewer allowing them to engage even more with your brand, it’s great for the advertiser as well. For example where as a print ad might get people to connect with your brand you still don’t know who is actually looking at your ad spot. With outdoor advertising embracing new technologies, we can now get all sorts of data such as who is looking at the advert, are they male or female, how old are they or when are they looking.
The beauty of OOH using these new technologies means that with the use of video and interactivity elements, people become more engaged with your brand, often sharing the experience on social media.
For example take the outdoor ads British Airways ran recently. Using digital billboards in Piccadilly Circus and on the M4 route to London Heathrow, which showed advertising messages from other brands, until a BA airplane flew overhead. As the plane passed over, the ad triggered showing a kid getting up and pointing to the sky, just as the plane flew past. But this wasn’t just about clever timing the billboard also showed the flight number of the plane and even where it was flying in from and letting people know the price of that flight.
Another example is the McDonald’s ‘heat sensing’ outdoor ad. The fast food giant bought ad spots in Amsterdam and filled them with 100 empty McFlurry containers. When the temperature hit a certain point the casing opened and people could grab a container and get it filled, for free, at the nearby McDonalds – a clever way of getting the public to sample your product whilst also engaging with them in a unique way.
Something for the future…
What’s next in the evolution of digital outdoor advertising?
Increased interactivity, an increase in the use of video like and the use of touchscreens within interactive 6 sheets. This can be a great way of increasing brand engagement whilst capturing useful customer data. It will also create more memorable experiences that will lead to more of this type of work going viral. People will engage more with brands like they never have before.
A recent poster on Oxford Street bought the idea of interactivity to a whole new level and is being hailed as the world’s first artificially intelligent poster campaign. The fictional coffee brand ad evolves and generates new, unique content based on how much ‘positive’ attention it attracts. Using a Kinect camera to sense people around it the ad engages with people who look at it measuring the response of viewers based on their reactions, are they happy or disinterested. Images change, the fonts increase or decrease in size and the layout changes, based on measuring what is making viewers happy or not. If the ad doesn’t get a response it will change and over time elements from what is deemed a ‘successful’ response will be incorporated in to future ads, elements which are not will be discarded, the ad will not do anything different while you’re physically there but will change over time. The technology at the moment has the capacity to gather its data from up to 12 people at a time. Facial recognition and live interaction would be the next step. Whilst still quite a way off of becoming a reality for all outdoor poster advertising, who wouldn’t want to essentially create their own ad based on them and their likes.
Technology is ever changing and new advancements are happening all the time and this will
be shown with the way in which brands use outdoor space to engage with people. Connectivity with smart devices will become a viable option for advertisers and maybe these outdoor ad spaces will be able to capitalise on this creating unique experiences and pushing the boundaries of what this emerging technology can really do.
Whilst traditional outdoor advertising will always be important, innovation will be at the heart
of advertising as it always has been and the way forward is definitely by making the best use of digital technologies.