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James Whitbread: three key factors driving out of home

Currently out of home is being talked about as the lead medium to watch in the advertising space.

With new technologies ever emerging and smartphones connecting people outside of the home and collecting data, the out of home industry is getting more and more exciting.

I have picked out three different factors which I believe to be the most exciting changes that will set out of home on a trajectory.

Screen Technology

Out of Home will soon have the same sophistication as TV and digital advertising in terms of knowing who is viewing where and when, due to advances in screen technology. These digital screens will have the ability to tell who an audience is in terms of gender, interests and age. This will help out of home to shake off the “out of home isn’t accountable” tag. In many ways DOOH is the rightful owner of the second screen medium and with exciting consumer buy in, developments such as being able to tweet directly from DOOH screens will become second nature.

New Data

The ability to analyse data about audience habits and interests will ensure that messages are targeted effectively to the right audience, at the right time, for the most effective results. Digital out of home is harnessing ‘Big Data’ to reach consumers with location based strategies which work across multiple screens. Most importantly, knowing where people are, and who they are, will give advertisers the ability to connect with an ever growing, mobile-savvy audience.

Rise of Mobile

More people than ever own a smartphone and this creates a massive opportunity for OOH. New technologies which connect with mobile phones, such as beacons (Successfully being trialled currently by Adshel in Australia), will mean that advertisers will be able to personalise the consumer’s experience. They will be able to provide audiences with appropriate money off vouchers, links to social media and other content which immediately connects them with a brand.

It feels crazy to think how far we have come from when I began my career in OOH in 2008, a time when we were struggling to get clients to put QR codes on their posters (I was selling washroom posters at the time) so they could connect with people’s mobiles. QR codes didn’t quite take off, however they paved the way to what we have today: with mobile targeting, interactive screens and big data.

Back in 2008 when I started in the industry, digital accounted for just seven per cent of OOH spend, whereas in 2015 it is reported to be 27 per cent. Rapport says that the growth rate of digital revenue has risen by 312 per cent in just seven short years. This is a massive growth figure for any industry.

The challenge that OOH now faces is to ensure that digital does not cannibalise the traditional poster medium. I know that the clients I work with such as Exterion, Clear Channel, AMScreen (pure digital) and Primesight are successfully taking budget from other media by dedicating specific teams to digital inventory. Digital is successfully bringing in new advertisers who are attracted by the benefits that used to be offered by press, especially being able to respond to current events on a mass scale almost immediately.

James Whitbread is head of traditional media at Ultimate Asset.

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