The old billboard gets the flick as digital OOH advertising takes over

The rapid evolution of digital out-of-home capabilities means brands now have more powerful ways to enhance customer engagement. We look at how

Static billboards and banners are a thing of the past as digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH) well and truly takes over, paving the way for more creative and powerful customer engagement strategies.

Facial recognition, augmented reality, beacon technology, real-time temperature parting and programmatic platforms are just skimming the surface of what is possible by way of DOOH advertising.

“At a high level and strategically, a lot of success we’re seeing in the business is with clients who are increasingly recognising the different role that out-of-home can play in their media mix,” Adshel’s chief commercial officer, Mike Tyquin, told CMO.

“That’s a combination of things: That’s utilising digital display, for immediacy and message delivery; it’s integrating with mobile and social; or it’s bringing data that they have in their businesses to help inform them about what they should be planning and buying for campaign activity.”

A more targeted, real-time approach

Experts agree one of the key benefits of digitally powered OOO is about using the various formats in a targeted, real-time way to hit the right customer at the right time and at the right place.

To do this, ad tech vendor, TubeMogul, and ad exchange platform, Site Tour, jointly launched a new platform allowing marketers to purchase digital advertising on thousands of out-of-home billboards, kiosks and elevator screens across Australia programmatically. Following integration with TubeMogul’s software in April, Site Tour’s DOOH ad exchange opened up a video inventory across screens in different environments nationally in real-time. Targeting was available by format such as on a kiosk or billboard, as well as location and time of day.

The ads appeared as 15-second videos and offer online advertisers the opportunity to target consumers in the real world with the same flexibility and targeting they have enjoyed online.

“For example, think about McDonald’s being able to target ads in Wynyard station between 3pm and 4pm in the afternoon: They know they’re getting a specific audience to purchase a specific product,” Site Tour’s chief commercial officer, Vicki Lyon, said. “That’s the kind of targeting we’re talking about. Customer engagement is being able to reach the consumer at that specific point where they can make a decision.”

With programmatic OOH, the screen becomes irrelevant and it becomes about targeting the audience, Lyons said. “Between 90-92 per cent of your decision is actually made when you are in that retail environment,” she added. “The key element here is that we’re reaching the customer at the decision making point, when they’re about to purchase.”

Digital OOO in action

Last year, Adshel launched a digital train campaign with Air Asia that involved linking digital screens to the airline’s live pricing systems. A consumer that walked through Town Hall station might see a flight to a particular destination in Asia at one price, then a different price if half an hour later, Tyquin said. It’s the same experience a consumer has online.

“We’re seeing a lot of retailers expressing a lot of interest to plan out campaigns based on a similar basis,” he said.

According to oOh!Media’s head of client content, Alex Mcintosh, DOOH is allowing constant innovation by helping marketers continue to find new ways to creatively engage with customers in real-time.

Earlier this year, oOH! worked with Porsche Australia to launch a new digital out-of-home advertising campaign at Melbourne Airport displaying a targeted message to drivers of its luxury vehicles. The ‘911 Turbo’ campaign relied on the company’s content management system, Argyle, along with IBM software to determine when a Porsche is nearby.

A camera placed 300 metres ahead of the billboard was used to analyse the vehicle make and model to identify the right cars to target. The billboard then changed to display the targeted message: “It’s so easy to pick you out of a crowd”.

Mcintosh said a vital component in the campaign’s success was using image recognition technology to see the make and model of cars driving past the billboard in real time.

“We challenged ourselves as a business to look at how we can use real-time data to help our advertiser to engage with our audience in new and innovative ways,” he said.

Last year, Adshel made headlines with its facial recognition campaign marking the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. This was achieved by recreating an iconic scene in the movie where Electro controls electricity and takes over digital billboards in Times Square.

Closer to home, interactive touchscreens allowed commuters to take a photo of themselves and submit them to be subsequently broadcast across the entire digital network in Town Hall station. Wherever commuters moved through the station, they were able to see their face on a digital billboard – much like Electro in Time Square.

“If advertisers bring the right content and messaging to their campaign, there’s a powerful combination there for them to cut down on the latency or lag time between them and the customer,” Tyquin said.

Participation also formed part of a recent campaign by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), giving customers the ability to print recipes with the push of a button on ‘ShopaLite’ panels in shopping centres. The campaign was done in partnership with oOh!Media.

“When you get down to functional, we’re literally combining images of great meals and the ability for people to push and get those recipes instantly, knowing there is a shopping centre there dedicated to their meal plans and to get those products,” oOh!Media CEO, Brendon Cook, said. “Again, it’s technology and people’s engagement capabilities that are changing the way we’ve used the medium.”

OOh!Media recently rolled out a creative participation campaign for Lipton Ice Tea in New Zealand, where panels were set up in university and retail environments for four weeks and based the creative theme ‘it makes you cool’. When people touched a panel, a spray mist of water would come out and cool them down.

“It was just in five locations, but we got 50,000 interactions over a four-week period,” Cook said. “The good thing is technology like that is becoming cost effective.”

Another example of customer participation in action was Paspaley Pearls’ recent content-led airport campaign. Customers could, by either tapping or scanning downloaded content, or using Wi-Fi and other channels, access a seven chapter short story featuring the luxury pearls.

“In all these cases, new but different techniques were tracked, new revenue was attained but also new opportunities for advertisers to engage using the multitude of different technologies was being created almost daily,” Cook said.

It’s not just content created by marketers and agencies, either. In a recent activity, ooH! implemented a university product called, where content was created and curated by students and linked to native content by clients. The company’s commercial director operations and technology, John Purcell, said the uniqueness of the campaign was that content was written and edited by the students themselves.

“OOH is becoming a real connected experience for marketers and I think for marketers, the challenge is to talk to the right people at the right time at the right place,” he said. “That also means factoring in costs savings and efficiencies. That starts to translate through to the online experience, where we hijacked, which is run and edited by students for students on campus.”

Up next: The latest digital and tech innovations in out-of-home advertising

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New innovations: Temperature parting

One of the latest innovations in DOOH advertising has been ‘temperature parting’, which gives advertisers the opportunity to dynamically change their message based on the local temperature at each location. Brands that have rolled out temperature parting and seasonal parting-type campaigns locally include Holden, Unilever, McDonald’s, Suncorp and Dimetapp.

“With McDonald’s, you could be playing an ice cream ad because it was boiling hot, then if it started to rain you could play the chicken wrap ad,” Cook explained. “That’s exciting because as we get better data, it allows us to market different components of a client’s campaigns in multiple ways, subject to their creativity.”

Iconic triggers

Another fresh development is linking OOO to other channels, such as TV, through triggers. oOh! Media recently conducted the first global ‘Iconic Trigger’ study, which found that by identifying the most powerful or iconic moment in a TVC or video pre-roll, and applying it to out-of-home environments, advertisers could increase a respondent’s long-term memory measure by an average of 42 per cent.

One of the ads used in the testing was Carlton United’s ‘The Great Beer Chase’. The TVC can not only be analysed to understand what the iconic moments are within the campaign, but also to demonstrate how to utilise these moments in outdoor signage to increase the effectiveness of the campaign. Cook said results showed out-of-home campaigns that used iconic triggers in their creative strategy had greater impact by tapping into consumers’ long-term memory, which is linked to enhancing the overall ROI of a campaign.

“This research provides advertisers with an actionable tool that identifies moments from their TVC or video pre roll, most strongly held in the long-term memory, which we know has a positive impact on ROI,” he said. “This process has really been about providing capability for clients and creative agencies to have confidence in a process to develop their outdoor campaigns, knowing that doing it this way would ensure they improve long-term memory and coding, which leads to sales.”

Proximity and location

A third innovation is connecting OOO with beacons. AdShel recently announced it is deploying 3000 beacons across the network in what it claims is the largest beacon deployment in the world.

The beacons will initially be used as ‘listen and learn’ devices to build insights on consumers, as well as for advertisers. Longer term, Adshel hopes the technology will allow advertisers to leverage their existing customer databases to send geo-targeted and contextually relevant messages to customers standing within the vicinity of an enabled Adshel panel.

Tyquin dismissed any privacy concerns with linking beacon technology and DOOH advertising, and data collection and sharing with third parties.

“Beacons are quite an interesting technology, in that they’re permission based, but they also work specifically between consumers and app owners,” he commented. “With the brands themselves, we’re providing a piece of technology but ultimately all the communication takes place is between the consumer and the brand owner – we don’t play a role in terms of personalised data collection at all.”

Limitations and challenges

While the technology making real-time outdoor interaction has officially arrived, there are challenges to how DOOH utilised effectively. According to TubeMogul ANZ MD, Sam Smith, one the major limitations is that it is bought and sold through lots of complex packaging, along with negotiations and locking down of the media schedule, which is done a lot ahead of time.

“You’re basically packaged up with screens you want and screens you may not necessarily want, which is common media practice – and you are locked in well before the campaign goes live and you can’t change that,” Smith said. “So once you’re locked in, the cancellation policy is pretty stringent. That’s one of the bigger challenges.”

The other big hurdle is measurement. To combat this, TubeMogul has been working aggressively in Australia to prove the audience measurement, Smith said.

“Measurement for us is all things like verification of whether or not it actually is displayed or not, right through to what kind of consumers were exposed to the ad – and then what was their reaction to that exposure,” he said. “It’s a pretty traditional model when you think about it.”

Smith said TubeMogul wanted to standardise the way brands applied and used DOOH, with a focus on programmatic video advertising.

“Then we obviously wanted to automate the process,” he continued. “Automation of everything through our business has been very attractive to agencies and advertisers because the more we can automate, the less contact with humans and the more the technology can actually do. This allows the marketer and the agency to spend more time on strategy and focus a lot more on the creative.”

TubeMogul is also through programmatic buying allowing advertisers to move money in the OOH solution and then move money out without having to commit long-term to any screen.

“By doing that, the solution we provide is more real-time positioning,” Smith said. “Every hour the platform can actually start bidding on screen, based on location, time of day and the actual panel itself and that kind of opportunity for advertisers has never presented itself before.”

For Adshel’s Tyquin, one of the biggest frustrations is regulation preventing development of roadside digital advertising in Australia, compared to other global markets that have embraced the trend.

“That’s a regulatory and governmental issue, but the industry is working pretty hard through the media association to work with a number of government bodies at both federal and state level to ensure that there’s a balanced approach to development,” Tyquin said.

According to Cook, while there are always limitations and challenges across different technologies, the key is to find innovative ways to keep customers engaged using the right capabilities.

“There are various roads throughout Australia where you can’t have full motion, by the traffic authority, whereas you go in other environments and they’re all full in motion like shopping centres and airports,” Cook said. “You’ve got to think through the physicality of the medium and work through strategies around how it works both from a standard signage point of view right through to various engagement models that come up.”

Mcintosh pointed out billboards come in all different shapes and sizes, which adds complexity from a design and implementation perspective. To overcome this, oOh! built templates so brands can type the message once, choose which image they want and have it up instantly. The company is also rolling out interactive panels.

“We have been talking to a lot of advertisers and we’ve taken the investment and installed fifty of these across shopping centres in Australia,” he said. “From our perspective, these units are a blank canvas for marketers to have conversations with people in a way you couldn’t dream of two years ago.”

Where DOOH is headed

According to Tyquin, the next generation of new technology falls into four key areas, the first being developments in digital display.

“We’ve seen some fantastic digital display technology, be it flat screen or LED products, and they will become lighter, slimmer, more high resolution than they are now and cheaper – so that’s very exciting,” he said.

A second significant developing opportunity is mobile crossover space conversions, Tyquin said.

“That’s clearly what our beacons play is all about, being able to help advertisers connect through out of home and mobile, with consumers to have a deeper, richer engagement, and help advertisers build those customer relationships,” he added. “So we think that’s a massive opportunity for the sector.”

Data generation and management is another area Adshel continues to works closely with its clients and advertisers, while automation and programmatic are both significant areas of future commitment for the business.

“Automation, inclusive of programmatic, is something we’ve been involved with clients like Cadreon, it was a good experience for us and it’s a pathway we’re very much committed to,” Tyquin said. “I think as an outlet for advertisers to be able to get a look at digital out-of-home as another screen medium, and to improve the velocity of the business model we have. That’s a massive opportunity that’s still got a long, long way to go. It’s something as a business we’ll be investing in for a couple of years.”

Whatever the next innovation, Cook said the thing brands need to learn more about is how to achieve more direct response engagement through DOOH.

“That comes back to the simple rules of what’s the proposition and what’s the value point,” he said. “Just as people learnt the art of direct marketing and other engagement forms, it [DOOH] is about… having a value proposition and finding a way to create and communicate that in a way that gets the reaction you want.”

DOOH is more than just digital signage, Cook said, it is part of creating an overall strong brand proposition.

“This is one of the most powerful things you can do in an advertising sense,” he claimed. “What digital is doing is enlivening other aspects of the total campaign, so the collective together works very well in really reaching people.”

Smith added that if a brand’s video strategy on digital OOH screens sits alongside what it is doing with desktop video, mobile video and television, engagement becomes much more powerful.

“Looking to the future, if you think about putting all of your intelligence and all of your trading into one platform, then you can start to build a cohesion amongst your branding strategy, so that eventually once data can be verified and duplicated across all the different screens – it becomes incredibly powerful,” he said. “As a scalable solution, suddenly this becomes very efficient and very exciting.”

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