oOh!Media's marketing chief on how creative and content will lift out-of-home spend

Neil Ackland shares the latest investments into creative and content innovation

When the Covid-19 lockdowns hit Australia in 2020, no segment of the advertising sector was hit harder than our-of-home (OOH) advertising. According to PwC, the sector saw a 39 per cent decrease in year-on-year revenue to A$772 million.

But as Australians have emerged from lockdowns, so too has OOH. However, for oOh!media chief content, marketing and creative officer, Neil Ackland, simply returning to the status quo of the pre-pandemic world would not be sufficient to ensure the company’s ongoing prosperity.

With that in mind, he has added to his responsibilities the role of CEO of oOh!media’s recently launched creative and content innovation hub, POLY. Ackland says the goal of POLY is not to compete with existing creative agencies, but to promote what is now possible with outdoor media to grow the medium’s overall share of advertising spend.

“Out-of-home as a category is competing for a share of all media, and as the leader in that category, we have a vested interest in trying to grow overall share,” he tells CMO. “We are really focused on how we lead the category and the industry to bring more media dollars into out-of-home, and as the leader then we stand to benefit the most from doing that.”

Neil AcklandCredit: oOh!Media
Neil Ackland

One of the key insights that led to the creation of POLY was a mixed media modelling study, which found over 40 per cent of the return-on-investment of OOH campaign came down to the creative. Ackland says POLY is keen to work with clients to maximise the potential of their creative concepts.

“If we want to bring new spend into out-of-home and encourage brands to shift more of their spend away from other channels, and we know that creative plays such a key role in the return-on-investment, then we really need a position on creative,” he says. “As a marketer, you are always looking for how you can differentiate your brand and your business and wanting to create reasons for you to get your share of the pie. And creative is one of them.

“As the leader in this space with the biggest market share, we are investing a lot of resource and energy behind this team.”

Those resources include a core team of more than 20 professionals within POLY. OOh!media has also invested in a partnership with Quantum to overlay transactional data against its locations.

Ackland says one of the key ambitions for POLY is to promote the digital potential of OOH, including the ability to incorporate location data, QR codes, full motion video and 3D anamorphic presentations.

“There are so many things for creatives to tap into, but there is a really small percentage of the creative that we are delivering to our sites that is using the full suite of tools available,” Ackland says. “With POLY, we are really pushing into being the leaders in creative in out-of-home, and in production, design, art direction, copy writing, ideation and all of the things that go with it, to help our clients enhance their campaigns and make them more effective.”

Ackland says the longer-term goal for POLY is to broaden client’s knowledge of what is possible with OOH, beyond being just an advertising tool.

“More recently, we are seeing content mixed in among the ads,” he says. “Digitisation gives you the ability to do that. You can break it up so there are even more reasons for consumers to look up at the screen and increase the value of the exchange they are having with the screen.”

One example is showcased in oOh!media’s longstanding relationship with Qantas in its terminal facilities and lounges, where news and sports updates are intermixed with travel information.

“It is quite early in the evolution of this, and there is a lot of innovation to come,” Ackland says. “We are just super excited to be in a position where we can be at the forefront of that and invest the time and the energy into working with advertisers and commercial partners to tap that opportunity and bring it to life.

“When you look at out-of-home, we think it stands out as being completely unique to any other channel. It has a physicality about it that can capture attention in a totally different way when people are on the move.”

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